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Zermatt ends on a record-breaking high note

What a way for the season to end! It's been one of ups and downs, with some thin patches at times - but among it all have been some incredible trips away, and a final month of euphoria. But that's enough about Watford, triumphantly promoted to the Premiership!

The skiing has been pretty good too - and last month produced some fabulous moments, on the slopes as well as on the football pitch. In fact, April has become a special season of its own, that of the mountain music festivals.

Some, well one in particular, Ischgl, go for the big bang variety, with a major act closing the season (they open with one as well, and have one in the middle too). You'll find us at most of Ischgl's concerts! Last weekend American band Thirty Seconds To Mars brought the curtain down on the skiing until November.

Zermatt has something a little different, a week of concerts big and small - and I had fun there last month.

The historic Swiss resort in the shadow of the Matterhorn calls its end-of-season musicfest Zermatt Unplugged, with gigs all over the mountain as well as in a circus-style big top in the centre of the village.

In the packed big top, Anastacia was going down a storm - until disaster struck and her voice, perhaps affected by the altitude, did a runner. Anastacia, trouper that she is, heroically carried on her set with her vocal chords complaining - to repeated standing ovations from the faithful, showing what a devoted and enduring following she still commands.

James Blunt sold out the big top a couple of nights later for what is quite a local venue for him - he had only to pop over from nearby Verbier, where he has a chalet.

But one of the most engaging gigs was at nearly 10,000ft at one of Zermatt's highest mountain restaurants, the remote 130-year-old Gandegghutte, which is perched on a precipitous ridge just above Trockener Steg on the glacier below the Klein Matterhorn. Yvette and Richi Lehner-Gaudin's spectacular little establishment became the unlikely mountain outpost of Ronnie Scotts jazz club in London. It was the venue for a lunchtime concert of true Extreme Jazz, with the five-piece Ronnie Scott's All Stars playing at the highest altitude of all the festival gigs. It also broke the record for Europe's highest stage for a music performance. The piano was taken up there by helicopter and the stage was formed by piled up snow.

Extreme Jazz at Zermatt Unplugged

It was both delightful and surreal to sit in the sun at lunchtime, with a backdrop of the Monte Rosa, Breithorn and Matterhorn, listening to the sort of jazz and blues that you'd normally hear in a dimly-lit cellar bar - knowing that there was still some great skiing to come. But then, in these dizzy parts there's good skiing to be had 365 days of the year (with a bit of luck and the absence of the high winds that occasionally shuts things down on the glacier).

So maybe I'd better get back to Zermatt to get in some serious mileage over the summer. Because the winter is going to be very busy, with some serious counter-attractions in the form of all those Premier League matches Watford will be playing. Did I mention they'd won promotion?

stevewhiting avatarstevewhiting5 May 2015
I think you forgot to mention Watford's promotion Rob but (as a Luton lad) I'm glad you didn't ;-) Sounds like you've enjoyed a rich and varied season - here's to next year.
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