There’s no better time to discover of local Swiss culture than during the burst of a colorful festival. Switzerland’s top festivals celebrate everything from street artists to opera to ice. Immerse yourself in Swiss culture with this pick of top 10 Swiss festivals.
Take your time and choose your destination.
1- Grindelwald Snow Festival
Every January Grindelwald hosts the international Snow Festival, international artists converge on the natural ice rink in the village of Grindelwald for six days. Watch as they create giant sculptures made from metre-high blocks of snow: mythical creatures, animals, people, and abstracts. You can offer your opinions on the best, have a go at tobogganing and warm up afterward with hot wine and cheese fondue.
2- International Balloon Festival, Château-d’Oex
The Swiss hot air balloon capital, Château-d’Oex in the Vaudois Alps plays host to hundreds of hot air balloons in January of each year. This colourful 9-day festival includes a night-time show, hot air balloon rides and kids’ day.
3- Basel Fasnacht
You’ll have to rise right on time to witness the start of this huge and popular carnival – it starts at 4am on the Monday after Ash Wednesday. Pipers, drummers and carnival cliques or cliquen march through the streets, carrying huge wooden and canvas lanterns with silhouettes symbolising events from the past year, while masked revellers, musicians, singers and actors wander through the alleyways. Festivities continue until 4am on the Thursday.
4- Interlaken Classic Music Festival
Superlative classical music in a stunning setting! Young, dynamic and modern. The idea first launched in 1999 to stand out from other festivals by focusing on young up-and-coming ensembles and soloists is now being consistently developed.
5- Zurich Festival
The Zurich Festival (Zuri Fascht) is one of the largest celebrations the city of Zurich hosts and is a 3-day event that happens once every three years.
6- Montreux Jazz Festival
This is the biggest jazz festival in Europe (and second in the world after the Montreal Jazz Festival in Canada) and held on the banks of Lake Geneva. Expect some of the biggest international names in not only jazz but in other musical genres, among the performers on two main auditoriums, the Montreux Jazz Café and other smaller venues.
7- Paléo Festival, Nyon
What started as a small folk festival is now Switzerland’s biggest outdoor music event: the Paléo Festival (or just Paléo) is a massive, family friendly music festival with international names from all musical genres performing on six stages – there are around 250 individual concerts – over six days.
8- Interlaken International Street Artists Festival
Wander the streets of Interlaken during the weekend of the International Street Artists Festival and be entertained by acrobats, magicians, comedians, jugglers and musicians, while you sample the local brew and nibble on popcorn and traditional chäsbrätel
9- August 1: Swiss National Day
This is a day of fireworks and bonfires all over Switzerland, with speeches by the great and good, much singing of the national anthem and other traditional songs, a proliferation of Swiss flags.
10- Fête de L’Escalade, Geneva
The Escalade is the most popular festival in Geneva taking place in the city center every December as a memory and celebration of proud defence of Genevans from the attack of Duke of Savoy’s army.