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Montreux Jazz Festival,things to do in Montreux
Written by Srinidhi on January 20, 2022 Share on

Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland – A truly iconic musical gathering

Switzerland despite being the country known for its idyllic landscapes with a variety of snow-capped mountains and ice-cold mountain lakes, melting glaciers, and mountain pastures well suited as downhill ski slopes in winter, is also home to one of the largest music festivals. The Montreux jazz festival is a music festival held annually during the summer on the shoreline of  Lake Geneva, Switzerland. The festival happens for two weeks and is the second-largest annual jazz festival in the world after Canada’s Montreal International Jazz Festival. As we all know, Switzerland is known for its cash, cows, cheese, chocolate, and clocks, followed by mountains, meadows, Edelweiss, and Heidi, this iconic music festival makes it popular for jazz and other pop culture as well.

Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland - A truly iconic musical gathering
Image source: Unsplash

Something more about this iconic jazz festival is listed below

  • History
  • The evolution of genres at Montreux
  • How to get to the festival
  • Other events
  • Beyond the music festival


Did you know that this Jazz festival has been happening for over 50 years? Of course, it has some pretty great history to know about.

The Montreux Jazz Festival opened on 18 June 1967 and was founded by Claude Nobs, Géo Voumard and René Langel. The festival was initially held at the original Montreux Casino, which unfortunately burned down in December 1971 during Frank Zappa’s performance. Initially, the event happened only for three days featuring the exclusive jazz artists during that era. A few of the highlights of the era were Charles Lloyd, Miles Davis, Keith Jarrett, Jack DeJohnette. Originally the festival started off purely for jazz, it opened up in the 1970s and today presents artists of nearly every imaginable music style. Today’s festival lasts about two weeks and attracts an audience of more than 200,000 people. With regards to the venue, The festival was held then in other auditoriums in Montreux, until it could return to the rebuilt new Casino in 1975. The festival continued to grow, and in 1993, it moved to the larger Montreux Convention Centre.

Pretty cool huh?

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The evolution of genres at Montreux

The festival evolved in the 1980s: it grew dramatically and included an even wider variety of music styles. Jazz remained important, as did Brazilian music, but more rock and pop artists were also invited. While jazz and blues are the souls of this event, other styles of music quickly found their place, anchored by artistic encounters and unique experiments. The expansion that began during the 1980s has continued since then The Montreux transformed from a jazz festival into a world music festival. In recent years, Muse, Radiohead, Kendrick Lamar, Pharrell WilliamsEd Sheeran, Alicia Keys, Adele, Lady Gaga, Tyler The Creator, LizzoRita Ora, and many more played in Montreux and honored the legends who have played here before them.

That must be one wild night!

Other events :

Of course, there were competitions happening at the festival making it yet another great platform for budding artists. Three international competitions were organized by the Montreux Jazz Artists Foundation every year: Solo Piano, Guitar, and Voice. Each competition has its own jury composed of professionals and chaired by world-renowned musicians.

The festival is also made interesting by providing Additional themed shows (Bahia, Blues, etc.) which are held on boats cruising the lake and train cars traveling the region, and various workshops and competitions are held at nearby Montreux Palais and Le Petit Palais

All of these events make The Montreux Jazz Festival one of the best and most significant festivals in Europe.

Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland - A truly iconic musical gathering
:Image source : Unsplash

How to get to the festival

  • You can absolutely board a train through the scenic beauty of swiss, The Montreux train station is only a few minutes’ walk from the festival site.
  • You can always hop on a bus , take Line 201 (Vevey-Villeneuve / Villeneuve-Vevey).This bus line serves as the shuttle for parking lots 1 to 8 and 11 to 21 during the Festival.
  • Or even better, take a car/cab, There are free parking lots on the outskirts of Montreux with free shuttles to the Festival provided by the VMCV bus service.
Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland - A truly iconic musical gathering
Image source: Unspalsh

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The Montreux Jazz Festival 2021

Even though the iconic music festival didn’t happen during 2019 due to the Covid outbreak, it sure did come back with a bang during 2021. This 55th Montreux Jazz Festival was the opportunity for both artists and audiences to finally come together in the name of music.  In addition to ensuring the comfort and safety of the public due to Covid, the reduced format of the Festival not only made it a huge success, but it also made it even more possible to place music at the heart of all its activities.

Fortunately, most of the artists agreed to be live-streamed, which easily allowed everyone to follow the event despite the limited number of tickets. A total of 21 concerts were streamed. Awesome right?

The main attraction of this event was the new Scène du Lac, which helped to captivate the artists and the audience with its first-class visual and audio quality.  The Lake Stage has highlighted all the nuances of its natural charm: a rainy backdrop due to the weather went hand in hand with the poetry of Yseult, scarlet sunsets danced in harmony with the warm melodies of Ibrahim Maalouf, Hermanos Gutiérrezor Brandão Faber Hunger, an enchanting rainbow accompanied Oklou, As for Woodkid, he magically transformed the set into a 4D show, complete with a giant screen and sub-bass sound, making the stand and heartthrob.

Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland - A truly iconic musical gathering
Image source: Unsplash

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Over 1500 artists have performed at the Festival from 1967 to 2019, with the most appearances by Herbie Hancock and B.B. King. The legacy and standing of the event are unmatched by any other, it is also to be noted that countless artists choosing their Montreux shows to be recorded for live albums as well, and their editions have been attracting more than 200,000 visitors across the two weeks of shows.

Swiss is generally known as the country which is home to some great tourist destinations, amazing culture, beautiful festivals, and delicious food.  All of these are what makes Switzerland the amazing place that it is. I’m sure The Montreux music festival made it to your bucket list because it sure did make it to my bucket list.

The 56th Montreux Jazz Festival is all set to happen from 1 to 16 July 2022,  Wondering how to plan a trip to Switzerland and clueless about whom to approach? Well, we got you covered on that wink wink. Check out  Pickyourtrail, Destination experts at Pickyourtrail are super ready to help you plan a dream trail to Switzerland, make sure you experience the great Jazz music festival if you plan a trip during that time. What are we waiting for? Let’s plan an awesome trip with Pickyourtrail !

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