Having been awarded Best International Festival 2018, all eyes were on Caprices this weekend as its 16th edition brought music to the mountains of Crans Montana.

The 4-day festival hosted over 40 world class electronic artists over three stages, drawing 25,000 revellers to the idyllic Swiss Alps. Back once again due to popular demand, Caprices put on a show to remember for an international crowd of techno-lovers. 
On Thursday evening, the first crowds through the doors warmed up the dancefloor of the Satellite stage, an intimate globe-shaped tent with mind-melting visuals by Romanian visual artist Cote projected 360 degrees across its walls. This was the first sign of Caprices’ goal to provide a fully immersive experience to its guests. The animated visuals danced and warped seamlessly across the ceiling in blues and yellows, providing the perfect accompaniment to the artists playing the opening night. The main room, The Moon, remained illusively concealed behind velvet curtains... the crowds would have to wait patiently to see what was in store.

David Holderbach

Mountain-top madness

From midday across the weekend, MDRNTY stage opened its doors to daytime ravers. Located on a mountain peak, people could get the party started on the gondola with views of the Rhone valley as they were transported to an elevation of 2,200m. The translucent walls and ceiling of the daytime stage let the sun stream in, giving the party a summery feel despite the climate. You’d think a festival tent at 2,200m would be freezing, but the dancing crowd and huge heaters meant it was almost T-shirt weather. The marquee was located directly next to the gondola station so there was no need to spend more than five minutes outside, and MDRNTY overlooked the Crans snowpark, with towering kickers shaped to perfection casting long shadows across the slopes. 

The DJs were sandwiched between the main dancefloor and VIP area, which meant everyone could get a great view. Drawing the crowds on Friday was Caprices regular Ricardo Villalobos and Saturday hosted Audiofly and Brooklyn-based duo Bedouin, whose middle Eastern influences brought a magical atmosphere to the stage. The mountain-top arena had everything you needed with cloakrooms, toilets, ample bars and a restaurant to keep dancers fuelled until sundown. Sunset at MDRNTY is something truly special. Sweaty from dancing, festival-goers can step out onto the spacious decking area to cool off and watch the soaring peaks get plunged into darkness. And sundown means one thing… The Moon stage is open for business! 

Night-time at The Moon

If you thought the gondola ride up sounded fun, the descent is second to none. By night, Crans Montana lights up the valley with twinkling lights and the cranes surrounding the Moon stage glow bright red with strip lighting. Combine those views with eight excited passengers per gondola and you’ve got one high energy commute to the main stage! On Friday and Saturday The Moon stage opened from 22:00, inviting techno fans to explore another immersive environment, this time in 2,000 square feet of dancefloor. Occupying the DJ booth across the weekend were a string of heavy hitters including Peggy Gou, Seth Troxler, Jamie Jones, Pan-Pot and Len Faki. A towering screen behind the artists brought more visual delights in the form of pulsing praying mantis shapes, warped stag heads and dizzying patterns which twisted and swirled to the beat. Add to that the mesmerising path of strobe lights across the crowd and it can’t be denied that The Moon provided that big room, superclub feel – an assault to the senses that was absolutely welcome.

Every night, the intensity of The Moon could be escaped in a number of relaxing spaces, with photobooth areas, food stalls and smoking zones all easily accessible and under cover for chill-out time. The dancefloor of Satellite was full until the early hours each night, with fresh ceiling visuals transforming the space into a kaleidoscopic portal of liquid colour and music. After four days of dancing, there was only one way to close the mountain-top stage and that was with a high energy set from Fabe, Apollonia and Sven Väth. Each act is legendary in their own right, but together the artists representing Ibiza’s famous Cocoon night are truly special to see. After six hours of dancing in the sunshine at 2,200m, the crowd roared with appreciation as ‘Papa' Sven laid down the final track of MDRNTY 2019: Lost Another Angel by Pig & Dan. 

David Holderbach

Crans Montana resort

During daylight hours in the resort, there are plenty of activities to keep visitors entertained. The Ski areas of Crans and Montana are linked, covering 140km of slopes and offering a variety of pistes for all levels of skiers. A day pass costs £52 and there is a free bus service between the villages. The gondola from Barzettes gives access to the Plaine Morte glacier at 2,752m above sea level where you can go snow-shoeing or husky sledding. Snowshoes only cost £15 for the day and are perfect for exploring the glacier at a more leisurely pace. From the top of Plaine Morte, it takes about half an hour to descend into the glacier with snowshoes, where you can visit the igloo village and explore its chilly chambers. The igloo has three bedrooms with fur rugs and ice carvings and you can stay a night there if you fancy your chances at -3! Out on the glacier, you can get to know the four-legged locals and enjoy a husky ride across the pristine terrain. The dogs adore charging along the tracks and help visitors connect simultaneously with nature and wildlife. 

After a long day on the slopes or dancing, there are plenty of great restaurants to refuel at. Located in the centre of Crans, Le Marché Du Plaza is the perfect place to enjoy traditional Swiss cheese fondue paired with local wine. Half deli, half restaurant, it has a traditional and friendly feel, with groceries available to purchase from wooden baskets and a cosy restaurant looking out onto the street. Antique wines adorn the walls and the food selection always includes vegetarian options prepared fresh daily. The ski area itself has over 20 restaurants on the slopes, with freshly made pizzas available at Les Violettes and delicious cakes and coffee at the Plaine Morte summit.

Even into April, 65 hectares of slopes are mechanically filled with snow so you can enjoy slushy spring skiing and work on that goggle tan. As the sun sets on Crans Montana and Caprices 2019, it's clear that the festival will be back next year, bigger than ever and fighting to retain its festival crown from the roof of the world.