For music enthusiasts around the world, Switzerland is the place to be this summer! Through the months of June to August, the country, that celebrates both the outdoors and summer with equal aplomb, is all set to entertain locals and travellers alike, with a host of music concerts and festivals.
World Music Day, or the Fête de la Musique as it is known locally, originated in France in 1982. Since then, on this day, amateur and professional musicians come together to showcase their talent and enthrall the crowds with free concerts, performances and spontaneous street gigs across the world.
Here are some of the most renowned music rendezvous of Switzerland that celebrate musical talent from across the world making its outdoor venues come alive through all the summer months:
The Montreux Jazz Festival June 30 – July 15
The legendary two-week Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland has been captivating the audience since its inception in 1967. Nestled on the picturesque shores of Lake Geneva, this iconic festival has become synonymous with world-class performances and a diverse range of musical genres ranging from jazz, blues, rock, pop, and beyond!
There are free concerts all over Montreux to celebrate the spirit of the festival. In over 50 years, Montreux has hosted iconic performances by artists like Nina Simone, Aretha Franklin, Ella Fitzgerald, Marvin Gaye, Prince, David Bowie, Elton John and Stevie Wonder. While Jazz, Soul and the Blues genres were part of the early years of the festival, over the years, other music styles quickly found their own space here. In recent years, Muse, Radiohead, Kendrick Lamar, Pharrell Williams, Ed Sheeran, Alicia Keys, Adele, Lady Gaga, Tyler The Creator and Lizzo have also performed at this festival.
The festival’s historic venues such as the Stravinski Auditorium and the Montreux Jazz Lab, provide the perfect backdrop for immersive music experiences. With its rich history and unwavering commitment to artistic excellence, the Montreux Jazz Festival remains a premier destination for music lovers and a testament to Switzerland’s enduring musical legacy.
OpenAir St. Gallen June 29 – July 2
The OpenAir St. Gallen is one of Switzerland’s oldest and biggest open-air festivals. Held in June every year at Sittertobel near St. Gallen, this festival is always sold out thanks to its mic-drop lineups that include big names like Macklemore, Lewis Capaldi, The Lumineers and AURORA. Some of the biggest Swiss acts also make this festival truly unique and appealing to both locals and global travellers.
Festival de la cité July 4-9
The Festival de la Cité Lausanne is a dynamic and inclusive cultural event that showcases a diverse range of artistic projects free to the audience. It presents a vibrant mix of contemporary and traditional art forms like theatre, dance, music, literature and visual arts. The ambitious programming and lively, unconventional atmosphere at the festival stands out as a celebration of creativity and community.
Openair Frauenfeld July 6-8
This annual hip-hop music festival that takes place in Frauenfeld in July is considered to be the largest open-air festival in Switzerland and the largest hip hop music festival in Europe! Since 1985, this event has hosted numerous high-profile celebrities, attracting an annual turnout of around 150,000 people. Influential artists like Jay-Z, Eminem, Kanye West, Macklemore, Snoop Dogg, 50 Cent, A$AP Rocky, Travis Scott, Cardi B, Wiz Khalifa, J. Cole and Cypress Hill have performed here. 2023’s headliners include Kendrick Lamar, Travis Scott, Stormzy and Central Cee.
Moon and Stars July 13-23
Ten open-air concerts turn the Mediterranean-style town of Locarno into the summer feel-good capital of Switzerland. The largest festival in the southern Alps is also the most atmospheric attracting thousands of music fans every July at the Piazza Grande that turns into a giant concert arena. The event has seen top international acts from Sting and Zucchero to Santana and Joe Cocker. Locarno has emerged as one of the most popular stop-off points for musicians and singers on tour and even regarded by some as being the ‘Montreux South of the Alps’.
Paléo Festival Nyon July 18-23
Paléo has created several unforgettable moments for the audience be it the magnificent Miles Davis in 1990, or Bob Dylan as a surprise guest five years later on the new stage at the Dôme. Since then, the greatest names have visited the festival grounds like Muse, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Iron Maiden, Elton John, Rammstein, Sting, Johnny Hallyday and The Cure. This year’s headliners include Rosalia, Martin Garrix and the Black Eyed Peas.
Street Parade August 12
Every year, the most colorful house and techno parade in the world fascinates thousands of dance fans from every continent. Around 30 Love Mobiles, brightly decorated trucks packed with giant music systems, DJs and party people, drive at a walking pace through the crowd of people around Lake Zurich. In addition to these mobile platforms, eight stages along the route, round off the contemporary electronic music selection with top DJs, live acts and multimedia. Headliners include Andrea Oliva, Anfisa Letyago, Black Circle and many more.
Seaside Festival August 25-26
The Seaside Festival takes place in the idyllic Spiez Bay. Nestled between vineyards, up to 20,000 visitors enjoy a unique view of Spiez castle, the awe-inspiring mountain panorama of the Bernese Alps and Lake Thun. Rising behind the stage and keeping watch is the majestic Niesen Mountain. Some of this year’s headliners are Vincent Weiss, The Fantastic Four and Caroline Chevin.
Heitere Open Air August 11-13
The festival is known for its wide range of culinary delights. This year’s headliners include SDP, Sam Ryder and Tones and I among several others.
(Information and pictures courtesy: Switzerland Tourism)