Montreux Jazz Festival cancelled for the first time in history due to the coronavirus

The annual Swiss festival had run uninterrupted since 1967

Lenny Kravitz was due to perform at this year's cancelled Montreux Jazz Festival. Joel Ryan / Invision / AP
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For the first time in its history, the Montreux Jazz Festival will not go ahead this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Scheduled to take place from July 3 to 18, the decision to pull the plug on this year's event came after the Swiss government declared that social distancing measures will remain in place in the country for some time. Organisers said a selection of this year's artists scheduled to perform will return for next year's event instead.

“The Swiss Federal Council announced that it would be gradually easing some of the protective measures against the coronavirus, but keeping the majority of the necessary hygiene and social distancing measures in place,” read the statement from the festival.

“As such, it is now impossible for us to consider holding an event on the scale of Montreux Jazz Festival in July, just as it is for our fellow organisers of other summer festivals in Switzerland and around the world. Public health concerns naturally take precedence over all other considerations.”

While the news is not entirely surprising, given the festival is one of numerous high profile cancellations such as Glastonbury and Coachella, jazz and pop music fans will still mourn as the event is as eclectic as it is picturesque.

Named after the breath-taking Swiss town in which it is held, on the cusp of Lake Geneva, the Montreux Jazz Festival have welcomed some of pop music’s most esteemed names to perform on its stage. Legendary acts who played include Johnny Case, Nina Simone, Marvin Gaye and Ray Charles.

This year’s festival was also due to host a colourful and multigenerational list of headliners, including Lionel Richie, Lenny Kravitz and Brittany Howard.

The festival goes online

Not all is lost however, you can relive the memories of the festival at home, courtesy of the streaming app Qello. Hailed as the Netflix of music concerts, the platform has more than 50 full concerts from the Montreux Jazz Festival from the past 30 years.

They include legendary shows by Simone (1976), James Brown (1981) and a particularly rowdy 2007 set by hip-hop group Wu-Tang Clan.

The app is free to subscribe to until Saturday, April 18. After which you need to pay a yearly subscription of $99.99 (Dh367).