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Montreux Jazz Festival: The 2022 Guide

Scenery and Sound

On the shores of sweet Geneva between the 1st and the 16th of July, the Montreux Jazz Festival blazes in its 56th year, celebrating deep musical diversity against an iconic backdrop. With the first-ever jazz festival in Montreux being thrown in 1967, since that summer in the swinging sixties, musicians and revellers have returned time and time again to the chic Swiss city to lap up the prestige and the prettiness of the region.

What is the Montreux Jazz Festival?

The Montreux Jazz Festival is famed for setting the stage on fire when it comes to talent. Having hosted the likes of Nina Simone, Ella Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin, David Bowie, Miles Davies, and Elton John back in the day along with a more recent lineup of Lizzo, Adele, and Kendrick Lamar, the Montreux Jazz Festival artists are always la creme de la creme.  This year's lineup sees the likes of Bjork, Mitski,  Nick Cave, John Legend, Diana Ross, Stormzy, and Herbie Hancock take to the stage.
For sixteen days, 380 different concerts showcase a carefully curated lineup of live music, and 250 of these shows are completely free. With eleven stages to choose from and everything from intimate jam sessions to DJ sets, grand-scale performances and silent discos, there is sure to be something for everyone's taste.

Where is the festival Set?

Boasting one of the dreamiest settings, the festival sits in a picture-perfect spot, flanked by the rising spires of the Alps on one side and the glittering waters of Lake Geneva on the other. Lake Geneva is a destination in its own right – regardless of its lyrical jazz history. As one of the most generous lakes in Western Europe, Lake Geneva isn’t short of scenic grace, wild swimming spots, and immaculate architecture all celebrating this waterfront locale. Aside from jazz, Lake Geneva is also famed for its vineyards that spill down towards the shore, its glorious chateaus and castles, and its glut of artistic personality that can be found in a vibrant program of concerts, and events, foodie fun, and chic cafe culture.
©2018FFJM - Emilien Itim

The history of the festival

Kickstarted in the late sixties by Claude Nobs, the Montreux Jazz Festival was a three-day event in its premier year. Held in the Montreux Casino, the first year featured the talents of the Charles Lloyd Quartet and was an immediate hit. A year later and both Bill Evans and Nina Simone headlined the bill and the festival was extended to five days to make room for even more musicians. By the time the 1970s rolled around, Montreux had gathered so much steam that it was now a two-week event. Not only had the fest swelled in terms of time and size, but the music had also branched out to include a fresh and vibrant mix of everything from jazz to blues, gospel, rock and the sweet sound of soul floating up into the heady summer night air. In the early ’90s, the festival could no longer be constrained in the casino and moved to the convention centre where even in this epic event hall, it spilt out into the streets, parks, and other venues. The program also began again to culturally diversify with workshops, films and talks being added to the lineup.

Reasons to book your tickets

With stunning scenery, incredible music, and a vibrant vibe, there are many reasons to mark the Montreux Jazz Festival on your calendar. 
A first-class festival
The Montreux Jazz Festival is no muddy backyard event, it's considered to be one of the best music festivals in the world. Not only does it have half a century of experience beneath its belt, but with its impeccable lineup of the biggest names in the music industry, you can be sure you are getting the best talent in the business. 
More than jazz
If jazz leaves you lukewarm, the Montreux festival spills out into a wide range of music genres. You can hear everything from blues to rock, reggae to rap, and everything in-between. Not only can you listen to a wide range of eclectic styles, but you can also indulge in workshops, talks, jam sessions, and a litany of cultural interests. 
Free stages
There are paid venues and stages that make up the Montreux Jazz Festival, but there are also six free stages too. This adds to the eclectic variety as the festival has ample opportunity for young musicians to perform and without a paywall, there is a sense of community spirit that seeps into the whole event. 
A dream destination 
A lush lakeside resort, part of the reason to head to the jazz festival is to sample a slice of life in Montreux itself. With strollable promenades, flowers in bloom, fairytale castles, and tumbling vineyards, Montreaux is a perfect example of postcard-pretty Switzerland. Culinary connoisseurs can visit the weekly market to stock up on fresh produce and hit the vineyards of Lavaux. Taking a dip in the lake is a must and for those who want to travel further afield, the Golden Line Pass starts or finishes here – known as one of the most scenic train journeys in Europe. 
©2018FFJM - Emilien Itim

Where to stay when visiting?

Montreux is home to a wealth of spectacular places to stay. The Fairmont Le Montreux Palace is sophisticated Swiss bliss with its 1900’s belle epoque architecture, sumptuous interior spaces, and spa delights. The five-star hotel also boasts a glut of gorgeous restaurants including the Montreux Jazz Cafe in homage to its home festival where you can sip a cocktail to the sultry sounds of jazz and admire classic memorabilia from over the years. Rooms are classically designed and offer perfectly framed views of pristine waters and soaring peaks. Located right on the shores of Lake Geneva and adjacent to the Montreux Jazz Festival you can fall out of bed and right into the action.

How to get tickets

The 2022 lineup was launched on April 13th and tickets for the grand event went on sale a day later on the 14th of April.  You can skim the lineup, and book tickets to the Montreux Jazz Festival through their official ticketing website or from their call centre. 
Header Illustration: ©2017FFJM - Emilien Itim

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