Insider's guide: Summer Events in Switzerland 2016

Swiss -tourism

Although Switzerland is small, it is certainly mighty! Playing host to a vast variety of events throughout the calendar year, Switzerland attracts some festivals of great prestige, including the Montreux Jazz Festival and the Locarno International Film Festival

Beyond the glitz and glamour of these world-renowned music festivals, Switzerland makes the perfect summer holiday destination with its balmy climate bordering on Italy, majestic mountains and deep, tranquil lakes. There is non-stop fun to be had where ever you travel, and this comprehensive guide to festivals in the area will give you plenty of food for thought!

Montreux Jazz

© Montreux Jazz Festival 

Montreux Jazz Festival, Montreux, Switzerland

When: 1st July- 16th July 2016

There’s no mistaking it. There can only be one world-famous Montreux Jazz Festival! This festival attracts an enormous crowd of music enthusiasts from across the planet, namely for the jazz but also many other different genres of music being showcased in various venues across the town. 

With too many names to list, highlights for this year include Van Morrison, Patti Smith and her band, Quincy Jones, Lisa Simone, Jamie Callum, Neil Young and Lana del Ray headlining. Taking up smaller, more obscure and late night stages are names like Four Tet, Grimes and Flume. 

And the fun doesn’t stop there either. While there are three main stages, Auditorium Stravinski, Montreux Jazz Club, Montreux Jazz Lab, there are further venues (including boats!) that are throwing open their doors (and gangplanks) for music lovers to come aboard. 

What can be said about Montreux itself? Sitting on the stunning Lake Geneva, the town of Montreux celebrates an unusually mild microclimate and a view that gazes over the French Alps. Steeped with history, the UNESCO World Heritage Lavaux Vineyards are nearby, and during his days, the famous poet Lord Byron stopped by and was inspired to write The Prisoner of Chillon after visiting the Chateau de Chillon. 

Inghams recommends: 

Positioned in the heart of Montreux, the Suisse-Majestic Hotel celebrates a prime location on the main promenade, just opposite the railway station and 5 minutes’ walk away from the boat quay. Sitting at the centre of the Montreux Jazz Festival, this hotel makes getting to and from the source of the music easy and convenient. 

Blue Balls Festival

© Luzerne Tourism Ltd.

Blue Balls Festival, Lucerne, Switzerland

When: 22nd July- 30th July 2016

Looking beyond the humorous name for this quirky little festival in Switzerland, the concept for is simple: 100 concerts and talks by blues, jazz, soul, funk, world, rock and pop musicians across the span of 9 days. If you’re a sworn music lover then you couldn’t ask for any more, could you?

Featuring the likes of Kt Tunstall, Zola Jesus, Seal, Katie Melua and Corrine Bailey Ray, this is a truly unique international music festival that attracts a crowd of almost 100,000 people from far and wide to the picturesque town of Lucerne in Switzerland. 

The music at the festival goes hand-in-hand with photography, street art, video, films and talks. The unique atmosphere provided around the bay in Lucerne and the Open-Air Pavillion, the KKL Luzern, and the Hotel Schweizerhof for late night shows. 

Inghams recommends: 

Art Deco Hotel Montana sits on the hill above Lucerne with superb panoramic views of the lake below. But don’t worry about the uphill trudge- the hotel is reached quickly by a private elevator from the street level! Furnished in the Art Deco style throughout, there is an excellent outdoor terrace with unbeatable views, and a ‘Louis’ bar with a jazz theme! No wonder our guests come back to this hotel year after year...

Swiss National Day

Swiss National Day- everywhere!

When: 1st August 2016 

Celebrate the Swiss National holiday in style!

Swiss National Day has been a holiday since 1994 and is celebrated across the country with paper lantern parades, bonfires, hanging bunting of the Swiss national flag, fireworks, and competitive rifle shooting matches. 

Swiss Day is a celebration of the Swiss Confederation in 1291, where three cantons of Uri, Schyz, and Unterwalden came together in alliance. This became the focal point around with the Switzerland of today was built gradually over the following 800 years. Since 1891 the 1st August has been celebrated as Swiss National Day, and is a day of tradition and proudly bearing the Swiss flag (which is a big plus...! Sorry, we couldn’t resist!). 

The wonderful thing about Swiss National Day is that it is celebrated nation-wide! While different towns have different traditions, you are most certain to see plenty of the red-and-white flags, buns and bread rolls with a cross baked into the top of them, and of course, plenty of fireworks! 

03 30 Locarno Film Festival

Locarno International Film Festival, Locarno, Switzerland

When: 3rd August- 13th August 2016 

The annual Locarno International Film Festival is held in August in the city of Locarno, and has been a repeated tradition since 1946. Locarno, sitting sharing the wonderful Lake Maggiore with Italy, sits on the Swiss side of the border but still enjoys that wonderful balmy climate. 

The main feature of the festival is the open-air screening in the Piazza Grande, with room for over 8,000 spectators, and this is one of the largest open-air screens in the world! Showing a variety of international films over numerous different genres, feature films compete for the top prize of The Golden Leopard. Other awards include the Leopard of Honour for outstanding film making achievements throughout a career, and the Prix du Pubic UBS, the people’s choice award. 

Not to be compared with the Cannes Film Festival, the Locarno International Film Festival focuses solely on the films rather than the stars and the glamour behind them. But that being said, plenty of famous faces have frequented the Locarno International Film Festival over the years (some to pick up awards, and others to narrowly miss them...) including Anthony Hopkins, Quentin Tarantino, Sir Christopher Lee, Harrison Ford, and Faye Dunaway. 

Inghams recommends: 

Sitting on the Swiss side of Lake Maggiore, there are some truly stunning views to be found from Locarno. Take them all in at a leisurely pace from the Hotel Belvedere, an attractive, modern hotel that offers some first-class facilities and excellent cuisine. Enjoy the views across the lake from air conditioned rooms, and terraces, as well as indoor swimming pool! 

Lucerne Music Fest

©Luzerne Tourism ltd. 

Lucerne Music Festival, Lucerne, Switzerland

When: 12th August- 11th September 2016 

Occurring throughout most of August (from the 12th onwards) and then sporadically throughout September, the Lucerne Music Festival is a collaboration of classical music from across the globe. Bringing together orchestras, legendary conductors and maestro soloists, some 110,000 visitors ascend on the lake town of Lucerne annually for this 3-part festival.

The Summer Festival is the most popular of this festival trilogy, and incorporates the Lucerne Festival Orchestra, the Lucerne Festival Academy, and the Lucerne Festival Young to bring you something for all tastes and audiences. 

While Lucerne Music Festival has huge international prestige, the town of Lucerne itself is a stunning summer holiday destination. Nestled into the Swiss Alps and occupying a stunning position on the banks of Lake Lucerne, this is a colourful and characteristic city that is small enough to be discovered on foot, yet large and diverse enough to keep you occupied for days on end.

Inghams recommends: 

Set in a quiet location away from the hustle and bustle of the main town, the Hotel Continental Park celebrates the best of both words- quiet location, yet still surprisingly close to the main central hub in town! Recently refurbished, the train station and boat quay are only just around the corner and you can enjoy that wonderful hybrid Italian/Swiss lifestyle while enjoying a cup of coffee on the outdoor terrace. 

Nostalgische Genussmeile

The Nostalgic Culinary Mile, Saas-Fee, Switzerland

When: 11th September 

Turning back the clocks, the Culinary Mile presents life and culture of Saas-Fee in Switzerland through the taste buds. A series of dishes from the past, about 30 menus are presented and a variety of local wines showcased and waiting to be tasted. 

All along the main street of Saas-Fee, the owners of the local traditional bars, restaurants and hotels throw open their doors for the Nostalgic Culinary Mile on the 11th September 2016. The event has now been adopted as a village tradition and is eagerly anticipated by everyone, and visitors in the region are treated to a wide range of culinary specalities. 

While it's not compulsory, everyone does love to dress up a little so throw on a vintage frock and don some traditional lederhosen and tuck in!

Inghams recommends: 

Stay with Inghams at the Hotel Schweizerhof Gourmet and Spa. based in a great location, this hotel sits just a minutes' walk from the centre of Saas-Fee, and is the ultimate place to kick back and relax. Complimented by high standards of cusine, superb service and of course, outstanding spa facilities. 

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