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The history of Caprices Festival, the clubbing gem of the Alps

Tomorrow in Crans-Montana will start the 19th edition of the festival

The history of Caprices Festival, the clubbing gem of the Alps Tomorrow in Crans-Montana will start the 19th edition of the festival

After two years of summer editions in September, the historic Caprices Festival will return this year to its usual spring dates, opening tomorrow its first of two consecutive weekends of clubbing in the Swiss Alps. The second weekend of Caprices will take place from April 15th to 17th and the tickets can still be booked here. The festival traditionally represents the grand finale of the Swiss ski season, mixing electronic music and winter sports, and this year it will present a loaded line-up led by Sven Vath, who will present a special set dedicated to his first album in twenty years, Catharsis, and will count among its guests famous names of European clubbing such as Tale of Us, Dixon, Luciano and Riccardo Villalobos, RPR Soundsystem, Recondite and Jamie Jones. This year's edition, in addition to returning with traditional features such as the Modernity Stage at 2200 meters high and reachable only by cable car, will present a summit dedicated to the convergence between the art world, NFT, blockchain and metaverse organized in collaboration with SwissBorg - making of Caprices «among the first to offer an artistic event combining real and virtual life», as declared by Maxime Léonard, founder and artistic director of the festival.

The history of the festival starts way back, almost twenty years ago, when Maxime Léonard, a native of Crans-Montana, along with a group of his friends, decided to establish a music festival in his hometown, a well-known ski resort that was beginning to lose popularity in the early 2000s. «At the beginning we wanted to mix live music with electronic music so there was a super-eclectic line-up»,  told Léonard in a 2018 documentary after the festival's victory at the DJ Awards in Ibiza. Contacted by nss magazine, the founder of the festival told more about its evolution: «At the beginning the festival mainly programmed groups such as Deep Purple, Iggy Pop, Bjork, Portishead, Cypress hill and many others. Electronic music was reaching a niche audience but over time the demand became more and more strong and we finally made the radical decision 7 years ago to focus only on this younger segment, in tune with our times». The idea worked, the first edition counted 10,000 spectators that by the fourth had already become 17,500 and continued to grow. The success was such that it attracted the biggest names in clubbing to the slopes of Crans-Montana, also leading to the birth of new names: the legendary DJ Luciano, stage name of Lucien Nicolet, has been a fixture of the festival since the first edition and an important part of his career took place during Caprices.

The festival's electronic turn came more or less in 2009, symbolized by the opening of the now famous Modernity Stage, a mountaintop dancefloor with an open view of the snowy peaks of the Swiss Alps, which Léonard told us about:

«We were finishing the Caprices Festival evening very very late with Luciano, Sonya Moonear, Guilaume & the Coutu Dumont, Sety and about twenty friends and we decided to do an after party at sunrise at the top of the ski slopes in a friend's restaurant. We took the first cabin, a pair of speakers on our shoulders, and boom we partied all day in this breathtaking panorama at the top of the mountains. The day was magical both on a human and musical level. We said to ourselves "We have to do this again next year!" which we did for a hundred people with a b2b from Luciano and Ricardo Villalobos. The following year we built a stage in a transparent tent of 1,000 people that we called: Modernity.». 

A story that, as you can see, is a story based on the community - and it is precisely the fellowship of the founders, their friends and the extended family of the festival that has allowed it to maintain an identity so distinctive that it has remained unchanged through the evolutions of the line-up, which in 2013 completed its metamorphosis by becoming exclusively electronic. From here, the festival acquired its current form: with the opening of the Modernity Stage and the presence of the two night stages, named Forest and Signal, the organizers' attention also expanded to the visual aspect and light design of the sets and the side experiences to the actual clubbing - including artistic collaborations and experiences that have remained iconic such as the DJ Set in a hot air balloon that Magdalena Chojnacka, aka Magda, played in 2016 suspended two thousand meters above Zurich. Another important landmark for the festival, was its win at the Ibiza DJ Awards in the Best International Festival category - the crowning achievement of fifteen years of effort. In notifying the audience and their community of the recognition, the organizers once again emphasized the community and almost family-oriented nature of their model: «A festival is nothing without two essential elements: a good public and beautiful environment! With your smile, your energy you have always made our events a gathering of joy, of love around our common music passion».

The continuous evolution, part of the DNA of Caprices, has not stopped even with the edition that is about to begin, which will be the first to host a summit dedicated to Web 3.0 to explore, always in the words of Léonard, «the revolutionary prospects for the music industry and art in general». An initiative that marks, after the two-year period of the summer editions, not only a return to tradition for the festival but also its further expansion into a cultural and artistic institution - the hidden gem of clubbing in Europe.

The tickets for the 19th edition of Caprices Festival are available here.