Writers, singers and ecologists are assembling for the second Bangkok Edge, a festival of inspiration
The “ideas festival” Bangkok Edge returns for its second year on January 20 and 21, offering a wide variety of educational and entertaining activities.
The inaugural event drew 20,000 Thais and foreigners, and this year’s festival – with its theme “Explore, Create, Inspire” – promises to be even busier.
“Attendance last year was way beyond our expectations,” says festival director MR Narisa Chakrabongse. “We’d prepared 4,000 entry stickers, and they were all gone within three hours the first day. That success gave us a tremendous energy boost!”
The hope this year, once again, is “that everyone comes away having explored different ideas, created something new, or been inspired to make changes in their life”, Narisa says.
“Above all, though, I want people to have a good time!”
The event will occupy the same three venues – Museum Siam, the Chakrabongse Villas and the Rajini School.
Rames Promyen, director general of Museum Siam, which is officially called the National Discovery Museum Institute, says it will give festival guests a deeper understanding of three far more traditional festivals – Loy Krathong, Songkran and the Boon Bang Fai rocket festival.
“We’ll also have the Mommy Puppet troupe putting on a hand-puppet show, presenting a fairytale about families and the rearing of children to demonstrate how puppets can teach lessons from folk tales,” Rames says.
The show will be presented in Thai at 4pm both days and in English at 5pm.
“Museum Siam will also be extending its operating hours from the usual 10-to-6 and stay open until midnight both days,” Rames adds.
SeaWrite Award-winning author Weeraporn Nitiprapa, who’s just published “Rocher”, will give a talk about his inspirations. He was a hit with both Thais and foreigners at last year’s festival.
ML Pratinthip Nakornthap, manager of the Rajini School, says she was “amazed” last year to see all the talks and workshops at the school featuring famous writers and speakers so well attended. “We had to keep making more room for the people who kept coming. So this year we’ve prepared two additional rooms.”
There’ll be speakers this year on smart cities, waste reduction, preserving cultural heritage, the future of transportation, and international relations. Local topics will include Thai history, literature, the LGBT movement and environmental conservation.
Three embassies have lined up speakers. Portugal has Alfonso Cruz discussing “Thinking about Identity and Culture – Connections and Contradictions”, Australia has Omar Musa on “The Power of Siam Poetry” and “Hip-hop and Our Combustible Society”, and Canada has Marina Mahathir on “Women’s Rights in Asia: Progression or Regression?”
Other speakers are historian Chris Baker, journalist Christina Lamb, Jaguar design director Julian Thomson, novelists Christopher G Moore, Colin Cotterill and Lawrence Osborne, “near-zero-waste” blogger Madeleine Recknagel and British photographer Michael Freeman.
More than 50 activities have been organised for the weekend, all free of charge. As well as the talks and workshops, there will be exhibitions, book launches, children’s events and film screenings, plus food and crafts markets.
Musicians lined up for concerts are Chanudom, Yellow Fang, Rasmee Isan Soul, Siplor, Yena and Narisa’s famous son Chulachak “Hugo” Chakrabongse.
“I’ll be playing both nights,” Hugo says. “On January 20 I’ll be playing the Thai songs I did with my original band Siplor – with Rasmee Isan Soul, Siplor and Yena – and on January 21 it will be all English songs, with Yellow Fang and Chanudom.”
Bangkok Edge is a great chance to get a glimpse inside the Chakrabongse family homestead. Prince Chakrabongse built the Italian-style villa in 1908 and for decades it’s been the private residence of his granddaughter, Narisa.
There will be four tours a day, one of them conducted in English, for people who buy a Bangkok Edge “chill pass”.
One of the big concerns this year is getting attendees to reduce waste by reusing and recycling as much material as they can. They’ll be reminded that Thailand is one of the world’s worst offenders when it comes to plastic waste and are encouraged to bring their own food containers and utensils.
Food and retail stalls at the festival are required to use only packaging that’s environmentally friendly.
How to get an Edge
- Bangkok Edge takes place at Museum Siam, the Chakrabongse Villas and the Rajini School on January 20 and 21. It’s free to attend.
- Learn more at (02) 622 1617, www.BangkokEdge.com and www.Facebook.com/bangkokedge.