Montreux Jazz Festival 2014
I decided to go to the Montreux Jazz Festival on the spur of the moment, without having any tickets or anything organised . I knew that the biggest attraction this year was Pharrell Williams and the tickets were sold out, so I just caught the Montreux train without any planning. Isn’t life a lot like jazz? It’s best when you improvise.
On the train I googled “Montreux free” and watched at what time were the free concerts of the day. I arrived at the station and just followed the people – the crowd all went to the Festival. The waterfront was peaceful and stunning: plenty of space to walk and sit, beautiful flowers, cast iron musical notes, blue water, boats, swans, decks and terraces, cushions on the grass, statues with musical and marine themes, fountains, live music, stalls of vendors selling everything from art to tourist junk, and food from any country one can imagine.
From cocktails to coffee, from gospel to impromptu dancers, the scene was always entertaining but never too hectic. Tourists sat down on the rocks and put their feet in the water, kids played in the gardens or danced along with the music.
My free concert happened to be the Brighton and Hove Youth Band, a group of young and talented musicians who performed high energy music from classic swing numbers from the 30s and 40s to contemporary funk and soul.
The festival was originally held at the original Montreux Casino, which burned down in December 1971 during Frank Zappa’s performance (as referenced in “Smoke on the Water” by Deep Purple). Today it is held mainly in two stages: Auditorium Strawinski (capacity 3500) and Miles Davis Hall (capacity 1800). There are also the smaller Montreux Jazz Cafe, and several open-air stages. In addition to this there are jazz boats cruising the lake, train cars traveling the region, and various workshops and competitions held at the nearby Montreux Palais and Le Petit Palais.
Montreux at night offers yet more concerts, music on boats, coloured lights, fireworks, a lively night walk. It is the second largest annual jazz festival in the world, after Canada Montreal’s International Jazz Festival, so worth a visit for anyone who is passionate about jazz.
If you are a music lover, Switzerland is ideal for concerts. All the top artist perform here, but the atmosphere mostly remains calm and relaxed. You hardly have to queue up; venues are normally a bit smaller than in the big cities and therefore you can see who is performing from a reasonable distance; concert halls are safe and well organised; security is high; people behave and enjoy. Next time a concert is sold out and you really want to see it, have a look at its Swiss date. And if you look for a big choice of top concerts and free concerts, try the Montreux Jazz Festival.
The Montreux Jazz Festival is on until the 19 of July.
Xenia was there last year and reported about this luxury music event at CHICoverdose before