This year was my first experience of the Montreux Jazz Festival, and I thought it was great! My parents in a nearby town that offers free bus journeys whilst the jazz is on so I had no excuse. On my first night I didn't know what to expect so when I arrived I had a quick look around some of the stalls and then went into 'The Jazz Cafe' which was a small-medium sized venue for hosting free gigs. The Macabees played the first night and they were really good, the crowd was buzzing and everyone was having a good time...except my boyfriend who struggled to get his head around paying 5chf for 300ml of Beer!
Following my sisters lead, we were more prepared on the following nights, and packed rucksacks with alcohol to drink outside before entering the Cafe venue. The crowds tended to gather on the grassy hill near to the outdoor stage to enjoy the less known artists perform a wide variety of music until the sun goes down. A classy litre and half of cider later and I was ready to head to the Jazz Cafe again! All alcohol served within the festival is served in plastic cups and it seems to be the norm to take your own alcohol for drinking outside.
(Tip for any cider drinkers, it is almost impossible to find bars, and shops selling cider in Switzerland, If you can find a DENNER store, I mentioned it in other reviews, then they sell plastic bottles of cider right next to the normal apple juice for only 2.45chf! bargain!)
The second time I went to the Jazz Cafe, Delphic played a really good set. I wasn't very aware of the band but my boyfriend likes them and dragged me along, it was a really good show, and a full set for free, who can complain?
Outside, the paths lining the lake are filled with souvenir stalls (not tacky, the official, and officially priced Jazz Fest Tshirts etc), and food stalls from every country you could think of, but be aware of the price!
There was a whole host of ticked gigs available, usually costing from around 80chf, this year including Vampire Weekend, Mumford and Sons, Phill Collins and Simply Red. The late night club venue is where the party continues into the night, as the festival is open until 5am every day.
Lucky praters also got to see many acts for free, my sister and her friends were around when Missy Eliot and Mumford and Sons both decided to carry on their performance in the Jazz Cafe. This is good for the fans but if I had paid to see them I would have been disappointed to learn that they played for free straight after!
Wether there is a particular act you want to see, or you just want a fun few nights out, then head to the Jazz Festival if you are near Montreux next July. I'm sure next year will be bigger and better as it will be the 45th year.