Let’s rock! – I said to my friends four years ago at the amazing Montreux Jazz Festival and what could be possibly better than rocking in the middle of Swiss Alps to Santana’s “Black Magic Woman”. Switzerland is present at the European music scene and takes care of its exuberant festival culture. Montreux Jazz Festival is one of the annually events in Switzerland which gained popularity on a global scale and turned the country to a desirable party destination.
Let’s have a look at what I have prepared for you…
1. ZERMATT UNPLUGGED
The first time I heard about this festival was when I saw a picture in the newspaper of a piano making a dramatic journey by a helicopter to the top of Matterhorn Mountain on 3030 meter above sea level. It is understandable that Ronnie Scott’s All Stars band could not perform their jazz concert without all the necessary music equipment. The atmosphere of Zermatt Unplugged music festival, on its 13 festival stages, is legendary and the event takes place every spring when the sun is shining and skiing conditions are perfect..
Who: Lisa Standsfield, Max Herre & Freunde, James Morrison, Juanes.
What: acoustic music
When: beginning of April
Where: Visp, canton of Valais in Switzerland
2. MONTREUX JAZZ FESTIVAL
They all have already played here – James Brown, David Bowie, Prince, Miles Davis and Deep Purple. The British rock star Queen didn’t loved this place only during his festival performance in Montreux but he also arranged the band’s studio here in Montreux, where he stayed until his last days. The world’s brightest stars have all been here to make the city drown in the waves of jazz and blues music. Today Montreux Jazz Festival is the second biggest music festival in the world and I had the chance to experience awesome two days when the legendary Santana pulled the strings of his guitar. With my second Margarita in the hand and blue Montreux glasses I passed the long stairs of Stravinsky auditorium and entered the big concert hall to dance all night long.
Who: James Brown, Miles Davis, Queen, David Bowie, Santana, Deep Purple, Nina Simone
What: jazz, blues
When: during 3 weeks in July
Where: Montreux, canton of Vaud in Switzerland
3. Locarno Film Festival
Once, only once to look into Brad Pitt’s eyes! Or would you prefer Angelina Jolie’s? If so, you should definitely be here at the Locarno Film Festival. Apart of Vending and Cannes film festival, Locarno is the oldest in the film industry. Every year in August the Piazza Grande is flowed by film fans and industry professionals to see the candidates for the Golden Leopard on the big screen.
Who: Quentin Tarantino, Penelope Cruz, Daniel Craig, Christopher Lee, Edward Norton
Where: Locarno, canton of Ticino in Switzerland
4. Stars in town
What would Schaffhausen be without its famous Stars in Town? I think it would be quite a disappointment for music lovers. The annually event takes place in August and is located in the beautiful Herrenacker in the city Schaffhausen. Here you can enjoy your St. Galler Bratwurst with a Falken Bier, while listening to the sweet voice of Katie Melua, who’s shining in the warm lights of the reflectors. The concert area located in the center between the theater, casino, bars and restaurants is cozy but not too big and the number of tickets is limited. I come here every year and even my knee surgery two years ago couldn’t stop me to escape the hospital next day with support stocks under my arms. I swear – Amy McDonald sounds even better after taking 5 pain killers.
Insider tip: find the Restaurant Per or Restaurant Hofenstube and cross the building passage that lead from the outside street to the inside “Biergarten” – you will be sitting at a bar and enjoying the life performance of the artists from here for free.
Who: Skunk Anansie, Birdy, Amy MacDonald, Pegasus, The Pride, Hurts, Katie Melua
What: Alternative, rock, electro
Where: Schaffhausen, canton of Schaffhausen in Switzerland
5. ZÜRICH STREET PARADE
A little Techno Parade never killed nobody… well, I’m not sure if that’s true but I know for sure that the world’s biggest techno party is huge, colorful, loud, drunk and sexy. In 2010 the mathematic student Marek Krynski has brought the street party into live with only 2000 party ravers. I have been to Zürich Street Parade in 2012 and 2014 and the number of ravers increased to 1 million these days. Dresscode is funny, sexy, tight or cool and nowhere in this world you will find more nurses and police women as here. There’s a lot of food stands offering some snacks, beer (+/-8 CHF) and caipirinhas (+/-12 CHF). But careful with alcohol – my friend paid 4000 CHF last year for a hospitality treatment after he drank too much vodka shoots! 🙂
Who: Avicii, Carl Cox, Armin van Burden, Moguai, Fritz Kalkenbrenner, Martin Solveig
When: second Saturday of August
Where: Zürich, Switzerland
6. OpenAir St.Gallen
OpenAir St.Gallen is one of the oldest festivals in Switzerland and was initially created in 1977 for Swiss performance only. Today the scene welcomes great alternative artists from all over the world with lots of my favorite bands (as you can see below on the list). It takes every year in Sittertobel, St. Gallen at the last week of June. From my experience at this event is that you really should invest in one of these ugly long waterproof boots! Bonobo, London Grammar and Milky Chance definitely sound better with dry socks and June is often a rainy season in Switzerland.
Who: Guano Apes,Faithless, Ozzy Osbourne, Beastie Boys, Garbage, Foo Fighers, Beck
What: alternative, rock
When: last weekend of June
Where: St.Gallen, Switzerland
7. PALEO FESTIVAL
Paleo Festival is also one of Switzerland’s biggest festivals. It is usually taking place in Nyon over the last six days and nights of July. You need to drink quite a lot of Redbull’s if you have your favorite stars performing every day and night. Well, with over 200 concerts and acts the chance is huge that you don’t want to miss Manu Chao, Lenny Kravitz or Franz Ferdinant. Don’t worry about the food – at the 200 food stands you will certainly find your favorite snack. Paleo Festival is still on my list…
Who: Texas, Morcheeba, Noir Desir, Placebo, Jamiroquai, Al Jarreau, Shaggy
What: Rock, alternative
When: last six days of July (Tuesday to Sunday)
Where: Nyon, canton of Vaud in Switzerland
Really… is there any of my favorite bands which didn’t have a concert at the Gurtenfestival in the middle of Bern’s mountain, the Gurten yet? I don’t think so. With more than 30 bands during 4 days in July, it’s difficult not to find your favorite star here. This year’s 78’000 ravers were enjoying the wonderful weather with 30′ degrees. Despite all the intensive and positive energy floating from the main stage the atmosphere at the Gurtenfestival is always friendly and relaxed.
Who: Faithless, Florence and the Machines, Rammstein, Portishead, Skunk Anansie, Moby, Santigold, Norah Jones, Lenny Kravitz, The Prodigy, Groove Armada
What: rock, alternative, jazz, blues
Where: Bern, Switzerland