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Seven Swiss music festivals you need to see this summer

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Seven Swiss music festivals you need to see this summer
Billie Eilish will be performing at the Zurich Openair in August. Photo: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images North America/AFP
08:14 CEST+02:00
Switzerland is home to a growing crop of great summer music festivals. Here is our guide to the best of the best.

Montreux Jazz Festival

June 28th–July 13th

This is Switzerland’s most famous musical festival and one of the world’s best-known events. Headliners this year include folk legend Joan Baez and pop queen Janet Jackson while the usual diverse program features everyone from Slash (of Guns N’ Roses fame) to jazz singer Bobby McFerrin and the amazing Bon Iver. And if the high ticket prices are a turn off, the streets of Montreux are full of free music during the festival making a visit to the town worthwhile even if you aren’t visiting one of the venues.

Openair Frauenfeld

July 11th–13th

Often described as the biggest hip hop festival in Europe, the 2019 Frauenfeld music festival features Cardi B and Travis Scott. This is also Switzerland’s largest outdoor musical festival with around 150,000 attendees.

Gurtenfestival, Bern

July 17th–20th

The Gurtenfestival is Bern’s biggest and features international big names alongside the hottest acts in the Swiss music scene. This year the legendary (and elusive) Lauryn Hill and US duo Twenty One Pilots as well as Swiss stars Patent Ochsner and Lo & Leduc.

Blue Balls Festival, Lucerne

July 19th–27th

A long-running member of the Swiss summer music scene, Lucerne’s Blue Balls festival features music, art and photography exhibitions and discussion panels. Among the musical highlights this year are blues legend Keb Mo, high energy Australian ensemble The Cat Empire and German soul and R&B star Xavier Naidoo.

Paléo Festival, Nyon

July 23th–July 28th

The Paléo Festival on the shores of Lake Geneva has a lot of heart, which can always be said in these days of hyper-commercial summer music festivals. Heading up the bill in 2019 are UK indie legends The Cure, US singer Lana del Rey and French songstress Charlotte Gainsbourg. 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.

St Gallen Open Air 

July 27th–July 30th

St Gallen’s open air is the grand old dame of Swiss music festivals. Now in its 41st year, the event sees over 100,000 people descending on the eastern Swiss city. Over the years, anyone who is anyone has played here – from the Beastie Boys to B.B. King. At the top of the bill this year are German punk legends Die Ärzte and UK Indie rock band Florence and the Machine.

Zurich Openair

August 21st–24th

Held near Zurich Airport, this star-studded festival focuses on electronica and rock music. The big names this year include dance group Swedish House Mafia, UK duo Chemical Brothers, US rapper Macklemore and none other than US singer-songwriter Billie Eilish.

Read also: Summer travel - 26 things to do in Switzerland's 26 cantons

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