Organisers of the Paléo open-air music festival in Nyon are breathing a sigh of relief after three top artists stepped in to replace their headline act, David Bowie.
Bowie had to drop out of the festival - and the rest of his European tour - following emergency surgery for a heart problem.
The festival said it was with “relief and satisfaction” that it could announce that the Scottish band, Texas, the American singer, Patti Smith, and the English band, the Charlatans, had agreed to open the festival.
Patti Smith was the first act of the opening night on Tuesday, which attracted an unprecedented 35,000 people.
Bowie had surgery for a blocked artery last month while on tour in Germany and the operation led him to cancel 11 concert dates throughout Europe this summer.
The news came as a blow to Paléo – billed as the country’s largest music event – which had been looking forward to the British singer’s first appearance at the festival.
But the organisers say that there is still plenty to look forward to, including the appearance of fellow British rocker, Peter Gabriel.
“We’ve always dreamed of getting Peter Gabriel – we’ve been hoping to get him here for almost 20 years,” said the festival’s director, Daniel Rossellat.
Other highlights of the 29th festival include British glam rockers The Darkness, and a whole section devoted to French songs, both old and new.
Viva la música
One of the main events this year is a section entirely devoted to world music.
After the success of last year’s event featuring music from the African continent, the Global Village will this year focus on Latin America.
The diversity of cultures and mix of races in Latin America will be highlighted through the choice of music, which includes contributions by Cuban singer Eliades Ochoa – one of the voices from the hit film “Buena Vista Social Club” – and Mexican-Canadian female singer Lhasa.
There will also be music from Venezuela, Columbia and Argentina, including salsa and Latin jazz.
A new development this year is the enlargement of the festival site by two hectares, which the organisers say is designed to improve conditions for visitors to the festival.
The number of visitors per day has also been raised from 33,500 to 35,000. But Rossellat denies that the festival is overstretching itself.
“Ticket selling potential is a lot higher than that,” Rossellat told swissinfo.
“If we have increased the surface area of the festival by 20 per cent, we have only raised the number of festival-goers by five per cent,” he added.
Paléo has high hopes for this year. The festival expects to attract more than 200,000 people in total to its 120 concerts.
It may yet hit its target; the festival is already sold out – all the box-office tickets went in the space of just one week.
But all is not lost, as the organisers are still offering 500 tickets per day via the internet in an effort to counter the growing black market.
swissinfo, Isobel Leybold-Johnson
The 29th Paléo Festival runs from July 20-25.
All box-office tickets have been sold, but 500 tickets are still available each day via the Paléo website.
This measure has been taken to help fight the black market in festival tickets.