Wonderfruit's fifth year has founder Pranitan Phornprapha thinking about the definition of success. The festival, a four-day celebration of sustainable ethos and boundary-pushing music, arts, and food, is moving to a larger, permanent location as it solidifies its reputation as one of Southeast Asia's must-attend annual events.
"Success has many forms," Pete, as the festival's founder is known, told VICE. "I had anticipated that parts of it would be well received but there were other elements that were surprising to me. Mind you, some parts of the operation are not successful yet."
The festival has always swam against the current in the Asian music festival scene. For starters, it's on the outskirts of Pattaya, a city in Thailand known more for its seediness than its natural wonders. And while others have favored the commercial approach of sponsor-heavy music festivals that pull acts from the deep well of international EDM DJs, Wonderfruit puts its ethics at the forefront, curating a multi-day fest. that is as much about better living as it is about big sound systems and bigger names.
And, in no small way, this is why Wonderfruit has been such a success. It continues to offer attendees an atmosphere and vibe of "hedonistic sustainability" that few others have been able to replicate in Southeast Asia. This year is bringing in well-regarded international and regional acts like Nightmares on Wax, Horse Meat Disco, and Young Marco, as well as local stars like Stars & Rabbit (Indonesia), Toshio Matsuura (Japan), and Adisak (Thailand).
But it's always been more than music, so expect some pretty amazing stuff for families, delicious feasts by renowned chefs from eateries like Bo.lan and Gaa, and mind-expanding talks and workshops about orgasmic yoga, blockchain, and climate change, as well.
This holistic approach is part of Wonderfruit's DNA, and it's not something Pete is too worried about losing touch with as the fest. continues to grow.
"I’m not worried about Wonderfruit losing its ethos," he told VICE. "I actually think our ethos will be more evolved and integrated as we grow. The more we learn and the more experience we have the more clearer it is to see what we want to do and how to do it.
"When we started it was just an intention. Now we kind of know what we are doing. The next steps involves designing experiences and processes that enable our ethos to all stakeholders so it’s not just us trying to demonstrate it."
Part of that ethos is making sure that Wonderfruit is a festival that gives back as much as it takes from the natural environment. The entire festival is carbon-neutral, food is served on biodegradable plates, and even the infrastructure itself, the gorgeous concert stages and installations, are built out of sustainable materials and constructed without the need for nails and bolts. It's all part of a serious commitment to create a festival that enlightens just as much as it entertains.
At five years, Wonderfruit is still the upstart on the Asian festival circuit, but its founder, and all the men and women who make each year possible, hope that its ethos will rub off on the wider region at large and make more festivals think a bit harder about the impacts of their events.
"I hope people will do it for the right reasons," Pete said.
This article was written as part of a paid partnership between VICE and Wonderfruit. To buy your tickets for this year's fest, click here. And to figure out how to plan for your trip, check out our handy guide from last year's coverage.