A new stage on the lake and a return to the casino: The MJF reinvents itself in the heart of the town
The Montreux Jazz Festival unveils the layout of its 58th edition, to be held from 5 to 20 July 2024 outside the walls of the Convention Centre. More urban than ever, the Festival is reinventing itself in the heart of the town of Montreux along an extended route along the quays. An eye-catching stage will be built on the lake, below the Place du Marché, offering the public a breathtaking view and an extraordinary experience. The Festival is also celebrating its return to the emblematic Casino, a significant venue in the event’s history. A large number of free stages complete the new layout for this year’s 58th edition, which will continue to accommodate its usual capacity of 250,000 attendees.
The Montreux Jazz Festival is reinventing itself in the heart of the town for its 58th edition, with an extended route along the quays, a stage on the lake and nods to its history. The changes have been made due to construction work on the Convention Centre which usually hosts the festival’s major shows, with work scheduled to continue until 2025. This poses a major challenge for the organisers, while also presenting an opportunity to reimagine the layout. The experience the festival has gained in recent years – including the Elton John concert at the Stade de la Saussaz in 2019 and the creation of the stage on the lake in 2021 – proved extremely valuable in bringing this project to fruition.
Three decisions were made early on in the 2024 project. Firstly, the event could only take place in Montreux, whose extraordinary setting has always been part a crucial part of the Festival’s identity. MJF also has a cultural, economic and social responsibility to the area to uphold – not least the economic impact of €80 million it generates for the region. Secondly, the Festival had to retain its capacity to welcome 250,000 people over sixteen days and remain true to its concept of intimate venues, both paying and free, indoor and outdoor. Thirdly, in the absence of the Auditorium Stravinski, the Festival had to invent an exceptional main stage that would appeal to agents, artists and audiences alike.
Many have been dreaming of it since the 2021 experience: the Montreux Jazz Festival will have its own stage on the lake next summer. The main stage will be built below the Place du Marché, between the quays and the lake. Audiences will be able to enjoy a breathtaking view of the lake and the sunset from the Place du Marché. The second ticketed stage will take over the Casino, an emblematic venue in the Festival’s history, to present the music of today and tomorrow. The half-seated, half-standing configuration of the venue will evoke the atmosphere and listening comfort of the great years of the Festival at the Casino.
An extensive tour of Montreux’s heritage
In addition to the two paying stages in the east of the town – the Lake Stage and the Casino Stage – the 58th Montreux Jazz Festival will feature seven free stages. The quayside route will be extended eastwards, starting at the Fairmont le Montreux Palace and ending at the Place du Marché. Numerous terraces, sun decks, bars and food stands will complete the Festival offer.
A fortunate coincidence: as the Festival prepares to strengthen its roots in the heart of Montreux, the town has recently joined UNESCO’s prestigious Creative Cities Network in the music category. With the Festival’s audiovisual archive having already been recognized by UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register, reinforcing Montreux’s position as a key music city.
The Festival’s new configuration will take visitors on a journey through Montreux’s rich heritage, reflecting the identity and diversity of this unique town. Festival-goers will pass through several of the town’s symbolic landmarks: the Belle Epoque architecture of its palaces, the seventies look of its emblematic Casino, the steel structures “à la Eiffel” of the Covered Market, the sixties aesthetic of the Eurotel (founded the same year as the Festival) and the flower-filled quays that are the pride of the town’s Parks and Gardens.
An urban layout developed in cooperation with local authorities
To bring this special edition to fruition, the Montreux Jazz Festival worked closely with the town authorities, the municipality and local stakeholders, including hotel owners, shopkeepers, residents and craftsmen. The warm welcome given to the project has enabled us to envisage the extension of the Festival perimeter with serenity, and to integrate the existing infrastructures on the quays harmoniously.
The Festival, aware that it will be expanding into more central and inhabited areas of the city, has paid special attention to scheduling to preserve the comfort of residents. Activities in the Lake Stage and Casino areas will cease after the end of concerts, from midnight. The schedules for outdoor entertainment areas will be coordinated with the relevant authorities, taking care to differentiate between weekday and weekend timings.