Dec 10, 2020
MOST PLACES IN THE WORLD, the music festival has been yet another cultural casualty of Covid-2020. But in Thailand, which has managed to keep its reported case count just above 4,000 with 60 deaths throughout this pandemic, event planners have a smidge more leeway. And so, the annual arts-tunes-culinary-wellness-eco-hipstravaganza Wonderfruit, which had steadily bloomed in the fields outside Pattaya since its inception in 2014, didn’t call the whole thing off this year, but rather shifted smaller… yet, somehow also bigger.
Let us explain. This year’s iteration is called Moobaan (essentially, “community”) Wonder, and sans open borders, regular international flights, and therefore all those enthusiastic regulars from Hong Kong, Singapore and Oz, it’s a tighter-knit, cozier, dare we say calmer affair. The venue is smaller, the weekend days, of which there are fewer (three, not four), are shorter (3 p.m. to 4 a.m. Fridays, 5 a.m. Saturdays and an exceedingly civilized 10 p.m. Sundays—as opposed to non-stop round the clock), tickets are less expensive, and there’s no sleeping on-site (sorry, glamping addicts, but see our stories below for other accomms in Pattaya).
What there are, though, are five of them. Well, as of this writing, four, because we went and sampled weekend No. 1 before writing this, and it was a joy. Incoming December 11-13, December 25-27, January 8-10 and January 15-17 are more mini-fests than you can shake a regenerative bamboo stick at. The point is to create a more accessible and relaxed flow of fun to which you can pop down for just an afternoon or return for a dozen. Expect Wonderfruit’s signature blend of ceramics and fermenting classes, interactive sound- and sustainable-art installations, some of the most popular and the most cutting-edge Thai bands, Thai and western chefs galore (e.g. chef Ton Tassanakajohn of Michelin-starred Le Du), and plenty of people dancing their faces off.
Shouts-out to two massively appreciated upgrades: First, gone is the dustbowl of yesteryear—Moobaan Wonder is grassier and greener (seriously, there’s a working organic farm on-site) than ever. Second, hello, bathroom heaven! They’ve built new ones out of rammed earth, bamboo and recycled materials, with real toilets and sinks that are always clean and never run out of paper or soap. If that’s not a festival miracle, we don’t know what is.
If I could, I’d also happily credit the organizers with controlling the weather, which got down to a brisk 19 degrees C at night—and is supposed to hold steady for these few more weeks of Thailand winter. We warmed up by jumping around to rapper Twopee Southside, alt rocker Hugo, and girl group with great range Yellow Fang. But, still, seriously, bring a hoodie.
Friends from abroad, we do miss you. But in your absence, the loo lines are shorter and whew is the food spicier.
—Jeninne Lee-St. John
Check here for more details and to buy tickets.