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Festi’neuch, Neuchâtel Open Air Festival
When: May 31-June 2, 2012
Best For: Family festival fun
Festi’neuch raises the curtain on the open-air festival season with a packed programme crossing over a huge range of genres. It always includes some key international acts but also has an eye on breakthrough bands. The programme this year includes Marilyn Manson, Morcheeba, Sophie Hunger, Amadou et Mariam and Sexion d’Assaut. The magical setting for this event is at Jeunes-Rives on the shores of Lake Neuchâtel. Over the weekend, it attracts an audience of more than 23,000. Lots of concerts for kids and special games and play areas for them too.
How Much: Starting from CHF 47 per day
Caribana Festival, Nyon
When: June 6-10, 2012
Best For: Boutique festival experience
This eclectic event attracts around 15,000 visitors to the bijou lakeside setting of Crans-près-Céligny, near Nyon. The quirky lineup always includes some surprisingly stellar international headline acts performing alongside local talent. This year it features Lou Reed, Kasabian, Pony Pony Run Run, Keziah Jones and Gossip. Highly family friendly thanks to the free Sunday afternoon Caribakids event with entertainers and face-painting.
How Much: Day ticket from CHF 69, four-day pass CHF 224
Greenfield Festival, Interlaken
When: June 15-17, 2012
Best For: Head banging
If you love hard rock, techno pop and grungy heavy metal, Greenfield is for you. Don’t expect any chic food stalls or stylish chill-out bars here. Greenfield is all about drinking lots and lots and lots of beer, staying in the same clothes for three days and burning your sleeping bag. Among the headliners for 2012: Limp Bizkit, The Offspring and Die Ärzte.
Open Air St Gallen
When: June 28-July 1, 2012
Best For: Getting into the Glastonbury spirit
Set in Sitter valley, 10 minutes away from St Gallen city centre, Open Air is one of the biggest, and oldest, music festivals in the German-speaking part of Switzerland. This year’s line-up includes Incubus and Deadmau5. Somewhat uniquely, the festival’s camping site is set right in the main music area which means there are no boundaries between where festival goers sleep and watch the shows. So if you pitch up early, you might be lucky enough to watch your favourite band performing live without even leaving the comfort of your sleeping bag.
How Much: Day ticket CHF 88, four-day pass CHF 193; Children born in 1999 or later free with adult (ID required)
Estival Jazz, Lugano
When: July 5-7, 2012
Best For: Hanging with the jazz cats
The premier musical event in Southern Switzerland is set in the heart of Lugano, in the beautiful 19th century Piazza della Riforma. It’s a heady jazz genre cocktail, mixing blues, pop, soul, rock and world music in a series of free open air concerts featuring internationally renowned artists. The lineup will be published la has previously included the likes of Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock and Youssou N’Dour, so it’s sure to feature some of the biggest industry performers.
How Much: FREE
Montreux Jazz Festival
When: June 29-July 14, 2012
Best for: An annual dip into the past, present and future of the music industry
Probably the best-known music festival in Switzerland, Montreux is a colossal 16-day music celebration held on arguably the most scenic shore of Lake Geneva. Split throughout a number of concert halls, plus numerous DJ’d club nights, it also includes a series of free concerts and events indoors and out. Which is just as well as tickets for the main concerts can be eye-wateringly steep. The 2012 lineup will be announced on April 19—a programme guaranteed to include some of the year’s biggest names and hottest concerts.
How Much: Tickets per concert range from CHF 90 to 220
Moon & Stars, Locarno
When: July 5-15, 2012
Best For: Palm trees and pop music
Piazza Grande is the stunning backdrop for this relative newcomer on the Swiss music festival scene. However thanks to its pulling power for A-list pop acts, many are now calling Moon & Stars the “Montreux of the Southern Alps.” This year’s lineup looks set to enforce its reputation, with Billy Idol, Lenny Kravitz, Elton John and Laura Pausini on the roster. The stage is set in the middle of the historic old square which fills up with thousands to enjoy a rather civilised festival experience.
How Much: From CHF 94 per concert
When: July 6-8, 2012
Best for: Grime
No we aren’t talking about getting your T-shirt slightly grubby. This is one of the biggest open-air festivals in Switzerland, taking place in classic meadowland setting. It always attracts some of the biggest names in rap and hip-hop and in recent it’s expanded to the grime genre, a fusion of dancehall, garage and hip-hop pioneered by Dizzee Rascal in East London. Big players on this year’s lineup include Drake, 50 Cent, NAS and Sean Paul.
How much: Three-day pass CHF 189
Lake Parade Geneva
When: July 14, 2012
Best For: BPMs
Twenty “love floats” start touring the streets around the lakeside from 4 p.m. whilst 150 DJs and other live acts keep the parties going well into the wee hours. Various stages and scene areas are scattered around the city, with the stylish lounge area and Latino house stage always proving especially popular with locals.
How Much: FREE
Live at Sunset, Zurich
When: July 11-22, 2012
Best For: Posh people
The beautiful setting in the Dolder forest above the city makes for a very civilised summer music experience. This series of outdoor concerts from international, if rather tame, pop names doesn’t exactly get the party started but it’s a chic way to spend a summer evening. The gourmet food tents serve up sushi from Yooji’s, exotic vegetarian from the famous Hiltl restaurant brand (who catered for Madonna when she last performed in Zurich) and fruity cocktails at the Sunset Lounge bar. This year’s lineup includes B.B. King, Elton John, Morcheeba, Lady Antebellum, Alanis Morissette, and Katie Melua.
How Much: Tickets per concert from CHF 60 to 320
When: July 12-15, 2012
Best For: Cutting-edge cool
Situated in a pretty public park on the wooded hill atop Bern’s Gurten peak, this festival started life as a shy folk gathering in the ’70s but it’s now a major player on the European summer music scene. This year’s cast includes Snow Patrol, Norah Jones, The Roots and Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds. Make sure not to miss the live set from drum ‘n’ bass act Chase and Status who are THE name at this summer’s coolest British festivals. Some 60,000 music lovers are expected to attend Gurten, but the camping facilities are limited to just 6,000 and must be booked in advance. The eclectic line up pulls a music aware, stylish crowd which, alongside the simply stunning scenery, easily makes Gurten Switzerland’s coolest music festival.
When: July 20-August 5, 2012
Best For: Class and classical
Always a stellar lineup with a stunning alpine backdrop. The Verbier Festival Chamber Orchestra is joined by some of the world’s top classical musicians The daily side festival, Fest Off, features smaller street events and concerts dotted across this pretty mountain resort, so expect to stumble across the occasional jazz quartet playing in the streets or alongside a country path. Lots of creative activities for kids to learn more about the music and all the creative arts.
How Much: Ticket prices vary
Paléo Festival, Nyon
When: July 17-22, 2012
Best for: Outdoor festival experience with no surprises
Set over six stages and six days and nights, this is the second biggest outdoor festival in Switzerland. Its lineup plays it safe, bringing in big music industry names, as opposed to taking chances on new breakthrough acts. And big names bring in big crowds. The fest is always a huge local favourite, attracting some 230,000 spectators and tickets usually sell out within hours of going on sale. (But you can sometimes score last-minute tickets if you show up the day of the concert.) This year’s line-up will be announced on April 17.
Blue Balls Festival, Lucerne
When: July 20-28, 2012
Best For: Posh dining ‘n’ dancing
With its stunning lakeside open-air stages and lots of side concerts in the hotels, bars and cafés of Lucerne, Blue Balls is easily in the top 10 of Swiss cultural events. The festival programme leans towards international pop acts from the blues, jazz, soul and world music genres. This year’s bill includes Regina Spektor, The Kills, Antony and the Johnsons, Keb’ Mo’ and Everlast. The full programme will be announced on April 26. Many artists perform live at the KKL Lucerne Culture and Convention Centre, world famous for its amazing acoustics. There are also a number of outdoor stages, exclusive photography exhibitions, a video-lounge and street art painting. Don’t miss the Late Night Jam Sessions starting from 11 p.m. at The Schweizerlhof, the hotel where the musicians usually stay, and in past years many of the stars have made impromptu appearances.
How Much: Tickets prices vary; dinner packages available
Fêtes de Geneve
When: August 2-12
Best For: Tourists
This annual event transforms the city lakefront into a posh amusement park featuring music concerts, food and fairground rides, culminating in a music-accompanied firework display at 10 p.m. on August 11. There’s also an eclectic selection of events throughout, from the Miss and Mister Geneva contests to an air show to the giant fondue. Don’t let them fool you though, the locals do come out to socialize at the temporary lakeside bars and restaurants and enjoy the 100-plus free concerts at the Scène des Clubs in the English Garden and Scène Ella Fitzgerald in La Grange Park. The music can be anything and everything from jazz to ’70s disco, but the progamme tends to favour roots reggae and world urban music. And it all warms up with Pre-Fêtes de Genève from July 19-August 1.
How Much: FREE
Rock Oz’Arenes, Avenches
When: July 31, August 2-5, 2012
Best For: The novelty factor
C’mon, where else are you ever going to see LMFAO perform inside a Roman amphitheatre?! Rock and pop music legends feature heavily here and this year’s bill includes ZZ Top and Alice Cooper. There are often big name house and electro DJs playing too. The parties here kick off in a fairly hedonistic way with thousands of people dancing ’til dawn around this ancient auditorium.
Street Parade, Zurich
When: August 11, 2012
Best For: Dancing in the streets
One of the biggest techno parties in Europe, Zurich’s Street Parade is a fun and surprisingly well-behaved event. Considering it attracts more than half a million people onto the streets of Switzerland’s largest city, it’s always a well-mannered gathering, with everyone in good spirits whatever the weather. “Love mobiles” pump out hard tech grooves, usually accompanied by large groups of glittery, bikini clad, party people of all ages dancing through the streets. After dark the parties continue long into Sunday night in clubs and bars throughout the city.
How Much: FREE
When: August 11, 2012
Best For: Hard partying
After warming up at the Street Parade in the afternoon, many move on to Energy 10 at the Hallenstadium. This annual event sees the arena transformed into a vast dance floor, with international DJ heavyweights on the lineup. There is an exhausting selection of some 90 DJs working eight different areas into a sweaty frenzy until 7 am. Behind the stage, one of Europe’s biggest LED walls and a dazzling sound and light show will ensures that this is clubbing Vegas style.
Pully For Noise
When: August 23-25, 2012
Best For: Fashionistas
This musically edgy festival set in the forest of a chic, but otherwise sleepy Lausanne suburb. But once a year Pully home to a festival that has become famous for showcasing bands that attract European’s coolest music connoisseurs. The programme will be released late in the spring but previous years have seen the likes of Tricky, The Streets and Jarvis Cocker performing live. Shoe purveyor Pomp It Up is the main sponsor, helping to drive forward the success of this “alternative” festival that Lausanne locals felt was an essential antidote to the mass pop music dominance of the Paléo and Montreux festivals.
How Much: Check website
When: August 31-September 16
Best For: Orchestral maneuvers in the mountains
This somewhat austere festival has a spectacular setting amongst the magnificent 4,000 metre-high mountains. It was formed partly as a summer residency for the musicians of the Scharoun Ensemble from Berlin to perform and pass on their experience to young musicians. There is also a chamber music academy which enables around 30 students from all over the world to attend master classes and to play with musicians from the Berliner Philharmonic Orchestra.
How Much: Prices vary per concert
Total comments: 3 | Add to the discussion.
I loved this site! I will send the link to all my friends outside Switzerland. Thanks a lot.. Tchuss
Thanks WRS for a great guide to all the festivals! I will put a link to it from www.Facebook.com/NewinZurich and from www.NewInZurich.com Good luck with the Save WRS campaign. I have also put a link to the campaign from my site.