SnowpenAir
Saturday, 6am. My alarm clock goes off. I wake up with a startle – who in their right mind would force themselves out of bed at this outrageous hour on the weekend?
The answer: Any avid music festival goer, wanting to experience Europe’s highest music festival: The SnowpenAir.
I hustle around to get myself together and rush out the door to catch the 7:32am train that will commence my trip all the way over to Kleine Scheidegg – the breathtaking mountain-pass, situated 2061m above sea level. It’s a long train ride from Zurich, with stops in Bern and Interlacken Ost, where most of the remaining festival goers join the ride. By the time we reach Lautbrunnen (another stop in between), the regional train is bursting at its’ seams. Not all Snowpenair-goers make it onto the first train and are forced to wait for the next one to arrive (take note: if you are traveling from Bern, try to catch an earlier train to avoid the crazy crowds later on).

The train inches its way up up up and… and finally: we’ve made it – we are officially on top of Europe.

It’s just before 11am. The sun is shining, the snow crunching beneath the feet – lots and lots of snow, mind you (so no kidding about the sturdy footwear the SnowpenAir organizers are recommending to wear!). You look around and are immediately stunned by the beauty of the surrounding mountain peaks covered in a cape of never melting snow.

Together with hundreds of people, who’ve just left the train, I make my way across the tracks, to the SnowpenAir festival ground. A quick control of bags and exchange of printed tickets for an armband and we are in. The first band is already playing – warming the audience up.
I initiate my slide toward the stage: literally – I slide, despite my solid winter boots: the whole area is situated on a snow-covered slope. At the bottom there is the one and only stage; on the sides, flanking the fest area, there are some sponsor, food and beverage tents. Opposite the stage the VIP area and additional food tents (you can choose from the Italian, Asian and Swiss cuisine) and right at the very top, all the way back near the entrance are the Toi-Toi’s. It is quite a hike to reach them, but when you do, it feels like conquering the world.
The SnowpenAir festival is subject to the mercy of the weather gods. Fortunately, the sun was out most of the time (so be careful not to get a sun-stroke – literally: I managed to get my nose burnt after one day of frolicking at the fest). Sunscreen and water to stay hydrated are a must (no, beer does not hydrate enough). Be sure to pack some extra layers in case the sun does disappear behind the clouds, as you can immediately feel the chill.
The tricky thing about open airs is the sound – all depends on how the wind blows – especially in the high mountain passes. I discovered the sound quality was somehow considerably better right at the front (obviously) and on the left hand side of the stage  (if you were facing the stage from the crowd).
There were 4 bands playing this year: 3 Swiss bands, considered as popular and established (you could really feel the crowds love towards them, based on the singing along and dancing 🙂 ) and one international act. An interesting thing I noticed, was when the last band – the highlight of the day – came onto the stage: the side banners with the sponsors’ logos disappeared…somehow I don’t think the wind blew them away…I’m not sure I’ve seen anything similar happen at open-airs before.
Once the final band finished their gig, the majority of festival goers gathered their belongings (sledges, picnic blankets and camping chairs – very handy, as there isn’t really any snow-less spot to sit on, on the grounds), and started making the way up up up, back to the train station. If you still wanted to grab a drink before hitting the road, or just hang around waiting for most of the crowd to make their way back down to Interlacken, you could hang around the Apres-Ski area.
I decided to opt for the earlier return (afterall, I had a 3-hour journey ahead of me).
On the train, feeling squashed like a sardine in a can, I managed to get some feedback from my Swiss companions, who praised the event – especially for the strong line-up. They did however mention that considering the length of the event (one day), 125CHF is rather expensive for tickets.

All in all, it was an enjoyable day. You can tell that the organizers have specialized in organizing the SnowpenAir over the last 19 years. No wonder the 10,000 tickets sold out in an instant. A strong lineup, beautiful backdrop and happy atmosphere – I am already looking forward to checking out next years shenanigans.

Fun facts 🙂 Did you know:
– To organize the SnowpenAir 200 tons of material had to be brought up to 2,000m above sea level;
– 2,500m of cables were set up beneath the snow
– 200 volunteers helped with organizing the event
– The festival budget was 1,4 million CHF

mags

Written by mags

2 Comments

Sarah

nice review 🙂 Btw, the banners on the side started to come off because of the wind. So they took them down for good for safty reasons.

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mags mags

Hey Sarah, thanks a lot for your feedback 🙂 Ha! I KNEW there had to be a reason as to why the banners were missing! Safety always first! I hope you’re enjoying the spring-fests and hope to see you around during the summer openairs! Gosh, I hope the weather improves in the meantime…!

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