Get ready to have a splashin’ good time! Hong Kong’s first-ever S2O Songkran Music Festival will be held at the Central Harbourfront Event Space in August.
The world’s wettest party is coming to our city, courtesy of Thailand. After making stops in Japan, Taiwan and South Korea, the S2O Songkran Music Festival is finally bringing its 360-degree water-splashing experience and DJ performances to the heart of Hong Kong in Central. Founded in Bangkok in 2015, S2O takes inspiration from Thailand’s annual new year festivities and turns it into a centralised and safe celebration. Partiers who attend the Hong Kong version can expect to fully immerse in a world of music, water and lights. With just three months to go until the event, the lineup has been partially revealed, including big names like Nicky Romero, Vini Vici and NGHTMRE.
Ahead of the festival, Lifestyle Asia sits down with founder Pulin Milintachinda to discuss the beginnings of S2O, the philosophy behind the event and what makes the Hong Kong edition extra special.
In conversation with Pulin Milintachinda
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your background?
Most of my early background is in public service. I was a Thai diplomat and lived in Israel for a few years, and then Germany for a few years, before I came back to Thailand and decided I wanted a change. I began working with my brother, who owns a media company doing talk shows, interview shows, entertainment and content.
With the S2O Songkran Music Festival, we wanted to approach it from the perspective of content, not from the perspective of an event organiser. It was about how you create live content that people would like.
So, S2O is a summertime music festival based on our new year celebration. If you come to Thailand in April, you’re gonna see a different side of the people here. Usually, we’re very conservative but during that time period, we get pretty sick and drink a lot. It’s a long holiday and people have one week off. It’s part of Thai society, but before we founded S2O, there wasn’t any centralised celebration, it was street parties.
So the idea was, how do you create this celebration in a safe way? If it’s a public event, there are safety issues, but if it’s a ticketed event, then it’s filtering out some people who may not be able to afford it. With so many variations to solve, the beginning was quite chaotic, just trying to find our way — but what’s always been consistent was the water.
What about the S2O Songkran Music Festival makes it stand out from other festivals?
I think the water part is the obvious part. Other things include the vibe that we’re going for — we categorise ourselves as an experience, not so much as a concert or festival. For instance, when we’re planning together, a lot of our discussion is from the point of the experience or the journey of the person coming to the event. What can we do to make it better for them? You don’t have to be an EDM fan. You don’t have to know any of these DJs at all, and you will have a great time.
Is getting wet a must for the festival?
Yes. It’s a big must. Some people don’t want to get wet. We have dry areas. You can enjoy food or you can be far away from the water. But I really, definitely urge people to go all out at least once and then you’ll know if you like it or not.
What is your connection with Hong Kong?
We’ve always wanted to bring S2O to major cities around the world and Hong Kong was one of them. With the world reopening after three years of the pandemic, I began to think — what could I bring to Hong Kong to make people happier? Aside from Ocean Park, there are no major water festivals here. So it seemed like fate.
What’s the lineup like for the Hong Kong edition?
We never want to apply any lineup from anywhere to any location. So it’s really about Hong Kong as a city and the people who reside here. What do Hongkongers really like? What do they really want? We discussed this thoroughly before coming up with a shortlist.
As for our DJs, we have both big names and rising stars. Nicky Romero, Vini Vici and NGHTMRE are on the list. Then there’s Liu, who I didn’t know was so popular in Hong Kong, but we got some really great comments when we announced him on the lineup. He’s a very handsome half-Chinese, half-Brazilian so I definitely see his appeal.
The Hong Kong festival is happening in August. Any specific reason?
Well, it’s supposed to be the hottest time of the year. Of course, even now in May, it’s hot in Hong Kong, but August will be like hell. That’s my target burn. It should be shown on the screen, like 38 degrees or 40 degrees. It’s a nice contrast and people will want to get wet.
Out of all the festivals you’ve thrown before, which is your favourite?
I’m from Thailand, so the Bangkok festival comes to mind first. It’s like a hometown game.
But really, it’s hard to compare and pick a favourite. All of the festivals are characterised by the people there and each one is different. In Japan, it’s very orderly. In Taiwan, it’s super sexy. And in Thailand, we’re more conservative.
For Hong Kong, I don’t know what to expect. But from seeing Hong Kong friends that came to Thailand’s S2O Festival in April — you guys are second to none. In terms of how you party and celebrate, I don’t think I’ve ever seen Hong Kong people waste time!
What is next for the S2O Festival?
We’re just gonna make it better and better every year. So after August 2023, unless there’s a hotter time, we’ll come back in August 2024. We’ll improve on what we did the year before. And I don’t think we necessarily need to have more audience, but we need to have a better time.