Wonderfruit Festival: An Eclectic Gathering for the Conscious Mind

*written By Jacqueline Khoury for Electronica Life
Thailand’s Wonderfruit Festival which was held from December 17th to the 20th, concluded its 2nd successful year on the stunning countryside fields of Pattaya. Since hearing of this festival from a fellow camper at the Envision festival in 2015, I was immediately drawn to its international praise and sublime ethos of “leave no trace behind”, radical self-expression, and immediacy, all of which are core principles from Burning Man and beyond.

Since moving to Thailand, my biggest concern (really) was whether I would find the same like-minded group of innovators who have transformed the way we gather in communal mass as I found at festivals like Desert Hearts, Youtopia, and Lightning in a Bottle. I didn’t want to be limited to the same artificial “press play” club and beach parties that I had recently left in Las Vegas, so after attending Wonderfruit I can happily express a few of the joyful elements that has given this festival such praise and why so many of us left wishing it lasted a few days longer.

The gathering was set on a generous field with two separate bodies of freshwater guiding one’s way through the stretch of land to the dreamy row of white Lotus tents at the boutique camp. The grounds were methodically arranged with miniature light bulbs allowing all visually appreciate the otherwise spectral surroundings after sunset. Many structures were organically built using a bamboo or wooden frame and each spike which held the frame together was covered over by a large, hollowed coconut. Seats of hay stacks and Thai meditation cushions were in abundance and so were the heartfelt bodies of energy that delighted in its coziness.
Each configuration had a meaningful purpose and was presented so thoughtfully. Food options seemed limitless and were handled by chefs from restaurants across Thailand. From organic passion fruit detox juices, to tacos from a local food truck in Bangkok, all of the essential needs were taken care of with an acute attention to detail. Although I didn’t take part in the nightly feasts that were hosted by world-renowned chefs, I felt the entire food community that was involved throughout the four days displayed their skills at the highest of standards. The natural laid-back vibe of rural Thailand mixed with delicate sophistication of polite society Bangkok led to an unassuming equilibrium that was uniquely experienced given the setting. The community successfully established an environment that wasn’t at all artificially developed to give us a stale illusion of expectations being met.

The art came to life through interaction from the “observer”, however none of us were observers. We were actively involved in creating which formed a pure sense of immediacy and engaged us as the primary spark of the festival – making it a proper playground for profound self-expression. Children were encouraged to jump, climb, and touch anything and everything. With the inner child activated the dynamic setting burst with wandering eyes and endless curiosity. A transformative change began when the community immersed in spirit with its surroundings, establishing an aura that spreads far outside the festival ground and into our daily lives.
The music traveled through the cool breeze in the astronomical yet intimate field sometimes tickling the soul at the most spontaneous of moments. A laser green smoke which hovered over like clouds, formed a shattered rooftop over the sea of gazers. We were taken to another world with hypnotic sounds being released into the cosmos for the first time. Not only did Jon Hopkins gift us with a deep ambient soundtrack as an individual’s mantra, Chris Levine mastered a visual composition that was openly interpreted in countless meaningful ways.

My deep house craving was generously fed throughout the nights with every electronic genre in between. Psy-trance, a high energy subgenre of Trance that was widely heard throughout the playa at Burning Man in the late 90’s, was playing into the late hours on Saturday into early Sunday. I was left gazing with vivid imagery into the disco ball as I danced heavily into the sound by Daypak Solo at The Quarry. Lucent Dossier Experience, an avant-garde acrobatic circus performance, illuminated the Living Stage with fire-spinning sequences and dancers levitating above the crowd on sacred geometric steel frames.

Wonderfruit happily reminded me that transformational festivals are everywhere and although each festival presents its own unique experience, they are guided by the same common principles. It is truly a meaningful festival that promotes individual growth and global inclusion on an artistic platform. From the food vendors and artists to the active attendees, each of us are the reason this movement has a global presence. The same energy felt on the playa can be felt through these fields giving it the title of “home” for me. Even though I am unable to return till the end of the year, that’s where my heart is on this side of the world.