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Montreux Jazz Festival Will Change Your Mind About Music Festivals

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Courtesy of the Montreux Jazz Festival

With a lineup that spans the worlds of rock, folk, and even trip hop, this annual Swiss blowout goes way beyond jazz.

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Do friends’ rapturous tales of music festival experiences leave you unconvinced? Between the raves you hear the truth: The fields in which they’re held are inevitably either dusty or muddy. The crowds. The lines. The hair-trigger balance between staying hydrated and undertaking the Homeric journey through the crowd to find a portable toilet. For many adults, the appeal of music festivals is elusive.

The Montreux Jazz Festival may just change your mind. The legendary festival began with a rousing cymbal clash in 1967 with a lineup that included Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone, Bill Evans, and Miles Davis. The programming has expanded far beyond jazz, and this year’s roster of musicians includes names from rock, folk, and even trip hop.

The 2018 Montreux Jazz Festival poster, designed by Swiss artist Christian Marclay
The 2018 festival runs from June 19 through July 14, and performers include Jack White, Iggy Pop, Portugal the Man, Van Morrison, and Massive Attack, among others. Venues are intimate, even for the biggest acts, so festival goers will truly experience a live performance, not a JumboTron projection in a stadium. Tickets are sold for individual shows, not as multi-day passes, so prices are reasonable if you only want to catch one or two concerts (although tickets and hotel rooms can be bundled together).

And perhaps the biggest draw of all: The festival is held in picturesque Montreux on the shores of Lake Geneva and beneath the Alps. Its dreamy location means you can spend a day hiking through hillside fields of wildflowers and then spend the evening listening to Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds with a glass of local lavaux wine. That promise of a perfect summer day could sway even a comfort-loving curmudgeon to return to music festivals.

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