Fast Facts

  • Location: Montreux, Switzerland
  • Attraction type: Music Festival
  • Significance: Festival, Event, Music, Jazz, Rock, Blues
  • Best Time to visit: 3rd July — 18th July for the 2009 edition of the festival
  • How to Reach: Plenty of Public Transport facilities are available to reach Montreux during the festival time. You can take a night train from Geneva, Sion and Lausanne. There is also a special bus plying between Montreux and Bern. There are buses available from Geneva and Brig as well.
  • Nearest Airport: Geneva International Airport, Bern Airport

Among the most telling ironies in the music world is the fact that one of the most reputed Jazz festivals of Europe and the world is known more through an iconic rock song. Deep Purple’s ‘Smoke on the Water’, with its recognized riff, introduced many music lovers to the Montreux Jazz Festival of Switzerland. However, long before John Lord and Ritchie Blackmore saw the Montreux Casino going up in smoke in the middle of a Frank Zappa concert, the Montreux Jazz Festival or MJF already enjoyed a cult reputation among Jazz fans. The list of artists who have taken part and played in the Montreux Jazz Festival includes a virtual who’s who of the Jazz world — from Miles Davis, Max Roach to Ella Fitzgerald and Herbie Hancock.

History of Montreux Jazz Festival

The Montreux Jazz Festival started in 1967 by Jazz visionary and music aficionado Calude Nobs. In the earliest years, it was an exclusively Jazz festival, bringing in some of the most reputed performers in the genre from all over Europe and America. Traditional Swing, Be bop, Cool Jazz and Latin Jazz were some of the highlights of this fortnight long festival held on the shores of lake Geneva. However, by the beginning of the 1970s, the horizon was broadened enough to include other forms like the Blues, Gospel and rock.

In the 1980s, it became all the more all-inclusive. Now, Montreux Jazz Festival was platform for the presentation of some of the greatest performances in the categories of pop, electronica, folk, hip hop, reggae and many more forms, although Jazz continued and still continues to hold the center-stage.

Past Performances in Montreux Jazz Festival
The 2008 MJF was a gala affair that went on for 16 days. It was the 75th year of legendary composer and producer Quincy Jones, Mister ‘Q’ in music, and the performers celebrated it in style. More than 50 artists came together to present a great tribute to a great musician and composer. The five hour long set became a stuff of legends. Claude Nobs has a propensity to make the impossible, possible. In 2007, one of the sweetest surprises was Prince coming in to perform a memorable two and the half hour set, kicked off with a forty minute introduction praising the man, the festival and its rich history. It is no wonder that with such a great pedigree, almost 200,000 music fans arrive from all over Europe and the world to soak in music during this festival fortnight.

Montreux Jazz Festival 2009
Montreux Jazz Festival 2009 starts on July 3 and continues till the 18th of the month. Performances will be held over two main venues, the Auditorium Stravinski and Miles Davis Hall. There will be performances by artists from a wide range of musical styles. Some of the most notable performers to take part in the festival are Steely Dan, George Benson, BB King, Lauryn Hill and Dave Matthews Band. Sammy Hagar and Alice Cooper will also be present to build up the heat.

Accommodation in Montreux
There are plenty of accommodation options in Montreux, given that it was popular tourist destination for the British from the last century. However, most hotels, inns and guest houses are packed with visitors during the festival time, so it is important to book your accommodation in advance. Some of the luxury hotels in Montreux are Grand Hotel Excelsior, Golf hotel Rene Capt, Eden Palace au Lac and Best Western Eurotel Riviera. Among budget hotels, Villa Germaine and Hotel de Chailly are the most popular ones.

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