I guess it's a world wide trend nowadays that, once it's warm enough to ditch winter coats, festivals spring up like mushrooms all over the place. I love mushrooms. And I love festivals.
There's just something non-conform, something bohemian about them. Going to a club somehow never feels so liberating and so invigorating. There's something in entering an area particularly designated to partying and general fun. It's like a world where gravitation changes: it draws you to a different nucleus, to the center of the party universe. Social barriers cease to exist, we're all chums, guests at an immense house party, a party of all kinds of music and entertainment. And when there's nothing else to do, you can just... well, be festive!
And that's precisely what I've been doing these past couple of weeks. Every weekend my local friends took me to a different festival, and finally I started to feel completely at home in Switzerland. And even a bit better than that. But let's take it a bit slower and enlist all the places we've visited. For these are yearly events and, even though I couldn't warn you of their coming this year (well, I had no idea myself until the calls came in the morning ^^), you might want to check them out next year.
5 Continents, Martigny
This was a nice little festival, nothing pretentious. We went with a friend originally from Martigny, and it seems all the locals attend the event. Of course, you'll see many tourists and people from all over the country, but somehow the whole event has a friendly feel to it and you'll be able to mingle and chat as if it was a huge garden party in truth. But it's so much more too. There's music on two stages, from all over the world. We listened to a Mexican singer in colorful robes and a band of Iranian musicians, to top the whole thing with dancing holes in our shoes to the tunes of the Amstedam Klezmer Band. And, to restore your energy, tasting the specialties of world cuisine is a must. Gorge on dishes from Palestine and Thailand, or take a safe bet on Valeisan goodies, mouthwatering pancakes and meat cooked in a dozen ways.
5 Continents, Martigny
When Old Lausanne goes reveling. All around the Cathedral, stalls offer different shows and drinks and food in a huge variety. There's concerts too, featuring well known international bands and local novelties. We also had the chance to see a magician and dance to music from Ethiopia. As place here is more limited, be prepared to squeeze and push, but if you're up to the challange it will be a rewarding experience.
Montreux Jazz Festival
Yes. I won't be the first to write about this world famous event, I guess. But I'll just have to add to the tons of reviews and recommendations. It's an awesome show for sure, and hosts some of the most famous bands and singers in the history of jazz (and music, I'll venture to say). The thing is, if you have tickets (which I find a bit too expensive, but of course in case of such a special event the prices are hardly surprising) the festival's an instant hit. If you don't, it's a good idea to get a drink and head to one of the free performances. There's excellent jazz to be had at the price of your beer at the park stage, and you can meet the queerest people and get a feeling of the special vibe. The scenery's unbeatable and looking over the lake at the snowy Alpin peaks will make you forget the occasional slips in the tune, if the performance happens to fall below standard. Not something I've encountered though.
What I don't like about Montreux Jazz (because there are drawbacks too) is the phoniness. Here, the immense crowd is just that, a crowd of people from everywhere, looking around with glassy stares, intent on getting what they want or where they want. You have to understand that everyone comes here, at least once. Whether they like the music, have friends who like the music, want to pick up a chick/guy, have nothing better to do, are traveling in Switzerland on business or leisure at the time. They're admiring the cake style mansions, the rich hotels, the fancy cars... and to many this is what the festival is about.
I prefer to sit on the grass, drink fresh juice, talk to my friends and smile at nice strangers, listen to music and forget the rest of the world. Posh hotels and fancy cars decidedly taint that pleasure, in my opinion. I don't mind them, I just don't think they're very festivaly. And stepping out of a limousine, wearing Versace head to heals, is more like Canne to me than a jazz festival. I guess I'll keep attending until I feel too old to brave the breathtaking coastal road (a must!), but always with caution. I'll keep to the lawns.
See you in the next post! ;)
Have a fun and festive summer.
Swiss Chocolate Kisses =)