The first things that comes to mind when hearing St. Moritz are usually high society events, White Turf and expensive hotels.
Music normally is not mentioned that often. Having been at this year's Festival da Jazz, I can see this changing pretty soon. I only spent a single day there and saw one concert, but I can already say: Take me back next year!
The Festival da Jazz in St. Moritz has been around for ten years, so I have put the word out a while ago. What better moment to see the festival with my own eyes! Not only would I be lucky enough to see one of my favorite artists, but also to experience one of the most amazing venues of this festival.
One of the highlights of the Festival da Jazz is the free concert high above the valley at Muottas Muragl. This mountain overlooks the Upper Engadine with the towns of St. Moritz, Samedan and Pontresina. There, Britain’s most successful jazz musician performed this year: Jamie Cullum. Boy, what an awesome concert! Read my interview with the artist at Loads of Music.
Here's yours truly with Jamie Cullum right after the interview:
Due to various responsibilities back in the real world, I was only able to attend a single concert. This leaves me with many reasons to go back next year… Here are four of the most important ones:
The Festival da Jazz boasts some spectacular venues
Imagine seeing Adele at the Kaufleuten in Zurich. That's how it must be for jazz lovers to see the legendary Herbie Hancock at the Hotel Reine Victoria. Or in my case, Jamie Cullum, for free, up on top of a mountain with a view like this:
At this festival, all the venues are super small. This really seems to be an opportunity of a lifetime. Can you imagine being able to almost touch the artist and not have a million people around you? Let me tell you, it is an amazing experience! Especially when you are seeing musicians who could easily fill entire stadiums…
This jazz music is for real
I love listening to jazz music, but I have to admit that I am not the greatest expert when it comes to this genre. However, I have been told by jazz lovers that the artists performing at Festival da Jazz are the real deal!
Reading names like Herbie Hancock, Lee Ritenour, Chick Corea says it all. Even I know those musicians! Seeing these big names should be reason enough to go back next year and see what they have in store for us.
St. Moritz offers many beautiful hotels for lodging
The main action of the Festival da Jazz is happening in St. Moritz. So, obviously, this town is the ideal location to put up your tent. A number of beautiful hotels, from five-star luxury accommodations to a youth hotel and holiday rentals are located here.
To celebrate my first festival visit, I went straight for Hotel Schweizerhof. Located smack in the middle of St. Moritz, one of the festival venues is literally out front: Hauser's Terrasse.
Apart from the ideal location, the hotel is also the home of the "Stübli" bar. (Apparently, this is quite a legendary place.) Many of the locals recommended going there for a drink before heading to bed. But unfortunately, the concert and interview had worn me out too much, so I pretty much fell into a coma after entering my cute little room with the most comfy bed ever…
Finally, don't forget to explore the surrounding areas of the Engadine, either. Celerina, Pontresina or Samedan are some great spots to spend a few days - or even just hours. There are obviously loads of hiking trails to explore.
I will be back in a heartbeat for the scenic train ride to St. Moritz
Sure, this does not necessarily have anything to do with the festival itself. But the train ride on Rhätische Bahn alone is yet another reason to head to the Engadin. In short: The train ride was absolutely stunning. Even though I have been in that region many times before – mostly as a little kid, though – I fell in love with it all over again.
This is my train crossing the Landwasser Viaduct between Filisur and Tiefencastel:
If you travel from Zürich to St. Moritz, you will be passing some pretty small Swiss towns. Looking at the traditional houses makes you feel like you have just entered a time machine and got spit out in another century. Here is the little town of Bergün (Bravougn in Romansh):
The beautiful scenery will make you forget the stress and hassle from the city. I have to admit that I love to drive cars, but for this trip, I was glad I left mine at home. So much beauty to take in!
So, pull out your bucket list, grab a pen and put Festival da Jazz on it! Even if your partner or concert buddy is not a huge jazz fan – no worries, send them off to hike while you enjoy great music.
(All photographs copyright Shirley Michael/Loads of Music)