Taking advantage of the mild winter weather, three festivals in and around Bangkok slated for December are launching the city onto the global festival circuit. With diaries poised, we give you the lowdown on the line-ups.
by Richard Mcleish.
Wonderfruit (December 19–21)
The biggest and most ambitious of the three festival offerings for the month is Wonderfruit – www.wonderfruitfestival.com, which is hoping to bear fruit for the Kingdom’s creative scape. With big ambitions, it goes well beyond the usual paradigm of DJs and dance floors with a more holistic approach that categorizes famous festival dates in the West. In fact, one of the three main organizers of the event is involved with the Secret Garden festival in London, known as the festival for festivallers.
The line-up includes big names such as De La Soul, Jose Gonzales, Fat Freddy’s Drop plus local champs Hugo, and Paradise Bangkok Molam International Band. But the family-friendly program features much more than music, with some of the best chefs involved to tempt your palate over the three days. Then there are the eyes to take care of, and artists and architects such as street Rukkit (Bukruk Street Art Festival) and Duangrit Bunnag (The Jam Factory) have been engaged for the aesthetic aspects of the weekend. The soul will also be catered for with yoga, meditation, and more.
It is bold in scope, size, and social responsibility, but also in location. A site in Chonburi has been selected for the occasion. Punters will need to organize accommodation or take up the one of the range of tents being offered by organizers. This might be the required leap of faith for Bangkokians who have yet to fully embrace the elements for such an outing.
Tickets: THB 5,000 (adult), THB 3,500 (teens/students), THB 13,500 (family)
Location: The Fields at Siam Country Club, Chonburi. Camping on site. Transport by bus from Pattaya or Bangkok (two hours). Ample parking.
Big Mountain Music Festival (December 6–7)
The origins of outdoor music festivals in Thailand definitely lie in Khao Yai, which means Big Mountain- www. bigmountainmusicfestival.com). Now in its sixth installment, the annual two-day event caters largely to a local audience with the cream of rock-leaning Thai bands showcasing the local talent pool, including usual suspects Thaitanium, 25 Hours, Carabao, Da Endorphine, and the like. This year sees a stronger injection from bands of the region too. The 40-hectare Bonanza site is scattered around a racetrack, which affords plenty of space and stages for the 50,000-plus revelers. It’s well organized, and there are plenty of food and drink points, toilets, transport options, and tents (if you can brave the shade-less conditions).
The most important aspect of the festival is its commitment to the local scene and foundations of spirit it has created for the live music scene. And weekenders can combine a visit with other worthwhile sites in the area including local vineyards, farms, and galleries.
Tickets: THB 2,000
Location: Bonanza, Khao Yai, Nakhon Ratchasima. Camping on site. Transport by bus from Bangkok (two hours). Ample parking.
808 Festival 2014 (December 9)
Continuing the ‘90s tradition of warehouse-style rave parties is 808 Festival – www.808festival.com. The formula is tried and tested—an open shed, a gritty DJ, a booming PA, thousands of revelers—but these days the style of party includes extra trimmings such as dazzling lighting rigs, gourmet food and booze, better party favors, and VIPness. Not to be confused with 808 Fest in the U.S. Catch celebrity DJ names such as Richie Hawtin, Dutch DJ Nicky Romero Blasterjaxx, and British DJ Daley Padley.
It’s presented by Retox Sessions, which is responsible for bringing big-name acts through Bangkok’s clubs. Catering for big numbers, the festival will take over the expansive Bitec sheds for the occasion, pushing out the maximum capacity to almost infinite. Either relive your youth or go see what all the fuss was about in the ‘90s. Either way, the quality and caliber of music shouldn’t disappoint audiophiles, particularly Hawtin, who is one of the best.
Tickets: THB 2,200, THB 2,700 (VIP)
Location: Bitec Arena, Bang Na, Bangkok. Ample parking.