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MUSIC

Seven great summer music festivals in Switzerland

Switzerland is host to a multitude of music festivals in summer: here are some of the very best.

Seven great summer music festivals in Switzerland
The Frauenfeld Openair festival in July will feature Eminem. Photo: Swiss Tourism

Montreux Jazz Festival

June 29th to July 14th

No list of Swiss music festivals would be complete without a mention of this iconic event. This year, Australian composer and singer Nick Cave will be one of the top attractions, while other big names include Iggy Pop and Brazilian singer Seu Jorge, who will be singing the songs of David Bowie. There is also plenty of free music on offer in the streets of the lakeside town during the festival for those terrified by the high ticket prices.

National Yodelling Festival, Basel

June 26th to June 28th

What better way to enjoy some extreme tourism than visiting a Swiss yodelling festival? This huge event which attracts upwards of 150,000 visitors is held in a different location every year. It includes not just yodelling but also activities such as flag twirling, which is one of oldest sports in Switzerland and alphorn playing. Oh, and there are plenty of traditional Swiss costumes, of course.

Gstaad Menuhin Festival, Gstaad

July 13th to September 1st

The Gstaad Menuhin Festival features some of the world’s finest classic musical performers on over 60 stages. This year, the event is dedicated to the idea of ‘The Alps’, and includes, for example, a performance of compositions composed by while on holiday on the shores of Lake Thun.

Photo: Raphael Faux

Irish Openair Toggenburg, Rietbad, St Gallen

September 7th to September 8th

The tenth edition of this festival in the beautiful Toggenburg region features a range of great Irish music from traditional to more punk-inspired bands with a really party atmosphere.

Paléo Festival Nyon

July 17th to July 22nd

The massively popular Paléo Festival on the shores of Lake Geneva will this year feature acts including Depeche Mode, The Killers, Gorillaz and Lenny Kravitz. It’s not just about music though. Kids up to the age of 12 get in free and there are all sorts of activities on offer for them. There is also street theatre for young and old alike and a strong focus on supporting charitable causes. A Swiss must.

Openair Frauenfeld 2018

July 5th to July 7th

Eminem is performing at the 2018 Frauenfeld Openair. Photo: Getty Images North America/AFP

Describing itself as the biggest hip hop festival in Europe, the 2018 edition of this event can boast names including rap legend Eminem along with N.E.R:D and Wiz Khalifa. Unfortunately, all three days of the festival are sold out, so you will need to be resourceful to get tickets.

Open Air Lumnezia, Graubünden

July 19th to July 21st

This festival may be small on big names but is famous for its spectacular setting and wonderful atmosphere. Tickets for this year’s event have already sold out but if you do manage to get your hands on some, this is well worth the trip. Children born in or after 2005 get in for free.

 

FESTIVAL

Basel Tattoo: What you need to know about Switzerland’s biggest military music festival

Basel Tattoo kicks off today, running until 20 July in the north-western Swiss city. But what is it? And why do Scottish bagpipers show up every year?

Basel Tattoo: What you need to know about Switzerland’s biggest military music festival
Photo: Basel Tattoo
What is it? 
 
Basel Tattoo is a show and parade bringing together military music bands from around the world.
 
How did it start? 
 
Organizers had the idea for the event after a Basel-based military band performed several times at the Edinburgh Tattoo, the world’s most famous event of its kind. The first edition of Basel Tattoo was held in 2006, attracting an impressive 38,000 people to the courtyard of a military barracks in Kleinbasel.  
 
So it’s a big deal? 
 
It is now. These days it’s sponsored by the Swiss federal defense department and over the years has become bigger and bolder, attracting more than one million spectators over all its shows. More than 60,000 tickets have been sold to this year's shows so far.
 
What happens during the Tattoo? 
 
The daily two-hour show includes around 1,000 participants from all over the world. This year’s event features the Hellenic Navy Band from Greece, dancers and acrobats from China, a police motorcycle acrobatic troupe from Germany and a Dutch orchestra. And of course, given its Scottish links, spectators will also enjoy music from ‘bagrock’ band the Red Hot Chilli Pipers, the International Highland Dancers and The Massed Pipes and Drums, a marching band formed of 200 players from around the world, an annual highlight of the show. Add to that an appearance from America’s Got Talent contestant Johnny Manuel and you can’t say Basel Tattoo doesn’t offer something for everyone. 
 
Photo: Basel Tattoo
 
What else goes on? 
 
Each year the Tattoo also stages a parade through the streets of Basel, featuring the international marching bands who are part of The Massed Pipes and Drums, along with other groups. This year’s parade takes place on Saturday 13 July from 2pm and includes pipers and drummers from New Zealand, Australia, Germany, the UK, South Africa, Canada and several other countries, as well as local groups from Basel and elsewhere in Switzerland.
 
Worth a visit? 
 
Absolutely, though you’ll be one of a large crowd – some 120,000 spectators are expected to turn out for the parade. After all, Basel residents are quite partial to a spot of marching – each year there are several parades as part of the Fasnacht festival, when people even drag themselves out of bed at 4am for a night-time parade. 
 
Anything else going on? 
 
Kids will love paying a visit to the military barracks on 20 July for the Children’s Day, when they can meet some of the pipers and dancers, ask questions and try out musical instruments. Best of all, it’s free.
 
How do I buy tickets for the show?
 
Find out more about the event and buy your tickets here.
 
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