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Montreux Jazz Festival 2021 to go ahead

The MJF team are building a stage on Lake Geneva to ensure the 2021 festival will be able to go ahead in an in-person format

By Jon Chapple on 31 Mar 2021

Lizzo performs at MJF 2019

Lizzo performs at MJF 2019

image © Marc Ducrest/Montreux Jazz Festival

The 55th Montreux Jazz Festival will go ahead this July in a reimagined, Covid-secure format, organisers announced today (31 March).

In a first, Montreux Jazz Festival 2021 will take partially on Lake Geneva, with maximum of 600 people able to watch performances on the main stage from seats on the lake shoreline. Three other stages with a smaller capacity, located in the event spaces and gardens of the Fairmont Le Montreux Palace hotel, will also host live music performances, alongside jam sessions, workshops and other events.

Through a previously announced deal with livestreaming platform Qello Concerts, performances from the physical festival will also be made available in a digital format free of charge.

On the ground, artists will perform on four stages, the largest of which, the aforementioned Lake (Lac) stage, will be built atop Lake Geneva, 25 metres from the shore and have a seated capacity of 600. The second stage, the 300-seat Petit Théâtre, located in the grand Salle des Fêtes at the Montreux Palace, will showcase “jazz fused with different influences, with a fresh and contemporary feel”.

The free-to-access Grand Hall will focus on artists affiliated with the Montreux Jazz Artists Foundation, while the similarly open-to-all Gardens will feature acoustic performances, DJ sets, a cocktail bar and food stalls.

“Our stages’ capacities will be even smaller, which will create an exceptional streaming experience for international audiences who can’t come to the festival”

The Lake stage, in particular, was a long-time dream of festival founder Claude Nobs, who passed away in 2013. “In a year when everything seems impossible, we wanted to do Claude Nobs proud and channel his favourite saying, ’Nothing is impossible’,” say organisers.

MJF’s announcement it is forging ahead follows a raft of recent festival cancellations in Switzerland.

Mathieu Jaton, CEO of Montreux Jazz Festival, says: “We are thrilled to unveil our brand-new format for this year’s festival, which pursues our hybrid model strategy. Montreux Jazz Festival has always been about creating very special concerts where artists can feel up close and personal with their fans while sharing these unique moments worldwide through audiovisual content.”

Montreux Jazz Festival 2021 stages

The format of the 55th MJF will evolve based on the public health situation in consultation with the local and national authorities, says the festival, while contact tracing will be required for each festival zone (the Montreux Palace, Lake stage area and the Gardens). It will not, however, be necessary to reserve places for the free activities and zones, which will remain open until they reach maximum capacity.

“This year, our stages’ capacities will be even smaller due to Covid-19 restrictions, which will create an exceptional streaming experience for international audiences who can’t come to the festival,” adds Jaton. “The content will be especially breathtaking from our new stage built above the water on Lake Geneva, with the Alps in the background.”


Line-up and ticket information for Montreux Jazz Festival 2021 will be released in the coming weeks.


This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.

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