Montreux Switzerland, like many other small towns in Switzerland, is known for its skiing, being that it is located in one of the many valleys of the famed Swiss Alps. For this reason many travelers far and wide automatically associate the town with ski vacations, but there is something else in Montreux that has people flocking to the town every year. The annual Montreux Jazz Festival is not just any jazz festival, but the second largest music festival of any type in the entire world. The festival features a wide range of genres and musicians performing at a variety of different venues throughout the festival area. And the area that the festival is held in is unlike most others in which such festivals are held. Lake Geneva and the Swiss Alps make for a backdrop that is as mesmerizing and diverse as the music that will surround you.
Those that want to experience the Montreux Jazz Festival will get to see another side of Switzerland, other than skiing. Summertime in Montreux is as breathtaking as the winters are, and the milder weather allows you to visit some areas of the town that you might shy away from during the colder months, namely the Lake Geneva area. The festival is held during prime weather time too, usually from the end of June to the beginning of July. You will be surprised to find out that the festival does not only last one, or two, or even three days but rather a total of 16 straight days that are literally filled with great music. In fact, music continues well into the night, lasting 18 hours a day! And you don’t have to worry about being able to afford to see everything you want to when you get there either, because at 10 out of the 12 music venues that are featured in the festival it is absolutely free to attend the shows. It’s no wonder that the Montreux Jazz Festival brings in more than 200,000 visitors every year. But there are plenty of other reasons for heading to Montreux during the jazz festival as well.
Montreux Jazz Festival History
The Montreux Jazz Festival has been taking place every summer for more than 40 years. The name of the man behind the festival is Claude Nobs, who found the festival decades ago in 1967, and who still enjoys the festival today. Nobs was never one of the famous musicians to play at the festival, nor was he a famous musician at all, but rather a fan with a vision that he turned into a reality.
The very first Montreux Jazz Festival mostly featured the music that gave the festival its namesake, and it only lasted a total of three days. What now features more than a 1,000 different musicians from all different types of genres first featured a mere 12 jazz music ensembles. By 1971 the festival was featuring over 300 different musicians and lasting for nearly 10 days. From then on the festival continued to grow in size, diversity, and in popularity. Today it is a beast of a festival that the people of Montreux are pretty content with leaving untamed.
The Music That Makes the Festival
While jazz was the exclusive musical style that the Montreux Jazz Festival was based on, and the only genre of music that was featured at the very first festival, the jazz fest is much more diverse today. One thing is for sure, and that is that the festival has featured many, many greats of many genres over the years. Some of the greats that have made an appearance, or appearances, at the Montreux Jazz Festival include Ella Fitzgerald, Santana, Aretha Franklin, Roberta Flack, Miles Davis, Van Morrison, Buddy Guy, The Rolling Stones, Etta James, Ray Charles, Herbie Hancock, B.B. King, Jimmy Cliff, Elvis Costello, Marvin Gaye, James Brown, Eric Clapton, Tracy Chapman, Joe Cocker, Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, Natalie Cole, George Clinton, The Roots, The Robert Cray Band, Paul Simon, and Sting. These are only a few of the hundreds of great performances that have characterized the Montreux Jazz Festival over the years, and they certainly will not be the last.
Dining at the Montreux Jazz Festival
The music, although the highlight of the festival, is not the only thing visitors get to enjoy there. Those that attend the Montreux Jazz Festival will also have the opportunity to enjoy a wide array of culinary delights as well. Different foods from around the world are served at various locations throughout the Montreux Jazz Festival Convention Center, including both Italian and Asian dishes, as well as plenty of local flavors as well. Terraces offer seating with a flair for diners at the festival, as the lakeside view is something to be enjoyed right along with the music at Montreux.
Remembering Your Montreux Musical Journey
If you decide to attend the Montreux Jazz Festival then you do not want to head back home without some reminders of your musical journey. To be sure, a picture speaks a thousand words, but souvenirs are historical reminders of your memories. Visitors to the festival can shop for such reminders at the Montreux Jazz Shop while they are there. There is all manner of festival souvenirs, such as festival posters, both festival specific and artist specific t-shirts and other memorabilia, and even music from the attending artists available for sale. With so many reminders of the Montreux Jazz Festival, along with your memories, you will never forget your time in Montreux Switzerland that is for sure.
Flying across the world may seem like a lot to through for a music festival, but when it is the second largest music festival in the entire world it is worth the time and money spent. At one festival, for 16 days, for 18 hours a day, at 12 different venues, with more than 200,000 fellow music lovers, you get to enjoy more than 1,000 different musicians, in one of the most beautiful settings in the world. That is the Montreux Jazz Festival.