Switzerland has one of the highest festival concentrations in the world. Music festivals dominate, with over 400 being staged every year.

Open-air stage at the Paléo festival in Nyon with thousands of visitors
The main stage of the Paléo Festival in Nyon © Paléo / Pierre Descombes

Switzerland hosts a dozens of festivals of all kinds, from music to film, dance to theater.


The Montreux Jazz Festival has been attracting the biggest names in jazz, rock and the blues since 1967. Every year fans from around the world converge on the Swiss Riviera town to enjoy two weeks of concerts. Every summer since 1938, the shores of Lake Lucerne have provided the backdrop for the Lucerne Festival, which features performances from the world’s best classical musicians and orchestras.

The Paléo Festival in Nyon, Open Air Frauenfeld, Open Air Gampel, Festival Rock Oz’Arènes in Avenches, Open Air St. Gallen, Gurten Festival in Bern, the Festival of Classical Music in Verbier, the Menuhin Festival Gstaad, the Greenfield Festival in Interlaken, the Caribana Festival in Crans-sur-Nyon, Festi’Neuchâtel, the Blue Balls Festival in Lucerne and the Cully Jazz Festival are just a few of the other music festivals held in Switzerland. There is also an array of smaller festivals that focus on individual musicians or musical genres. They include the Willisau Jazz Festival, Bad Bonn Kilbi in Düdingen, the Electron Festival in Geneva, the traditional music festival “Naturstimmen” in Toggenburg, the “Stubete am See” in Zurich and “Stanser Musiktage”, a world music festival.


Switzerland also has several film festivals. The largest is the Locarno International Film Festival. Held every year since 1946, it is a showcase of independent film-making and attracts over 160,000 visitors during its 11-day run. Its highest accolade is the Golden Leopard. There is also the documentary film festival “Visions du Réel” in Nyon, the Zurich Film Festival, the Solothurn Film Festival, the Neuchâtel International Fantastic Film Festival, the Fribourg International Film Festival, and the International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights in Geneva.

Theatre, dance and performance art

There are also a host of events which combine a variety of artistic forms, such as the Zurich “Theaterspektakel” (theatre, dance, music, performance), the “Festival de la Bâtie” (theatre, dance, music) in Geneva, and “Belluard Bollwerk International” (dance, theatre, music, videos, performance) in Fribourg. Added to these are an assortment of dance festivals (“Steps”, Berner Tanztage), theatre festivals (“Swiss Theatre Encounter”), comedy festivals (Montreux Comedy Festival, “Arosa Humor-Festival”) and comic book festivals like “BD-Fil” in Lausanne and “Fumetto” in Lucerne.

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