Festival de la cité - © Laurent Ryser


Lausanne lives by the rhythm of its festivals

Lausanne can be proud of the number of festivals it has on offer. A bastion of culture, the city dons its party clothes throughout the whole year. Classical, jazz or electro music, comic strip, films, theatre, dance … every form of artistic expression is an opportunity for residents and visiting tourists to gather together, often free of charge, giving rise to rich intercultural and intergenerational exchanges.

The music festival season starts in April on a jazz note, in close proximity to the greater urban area of Lausanne. Cully, situated about ten kilometres from Lausanne on the shores of Lake Geneva, is the scene of a jazz festival that welcomes top international stars such as Maceo Parker, Malcolm Braff, Charles Lloyd, Ahmad Jamal and Gilberto Gil. It also specialises in offering its 40,000 visitors numerous free concerts performed by lesser known local groups and musicians in the village’s wine cellars. In summer, the Montreux Jazz Festival can pride itself on having welcomed the greatest names in jazz and pop since 1967, including Ella Fitzgerald, Carlos Santana, Deep Purple, Prince, Black Eyed Peas and Lily Allen.

Several events explore other kinds of music: tango with the Tangofolies, the French-speaking music of North America in Pully (Pully-Lavaux à l'heure du Québec), classical music in Cully, Montreux and Vevey or at the Bach Festival in Lausanne, modern music at Metropop or rock and pop at the For Noise Festival in Pully. A leading musical event in Europe, the Music Festival is also celebrated in Lausanne on 21 June each year.

Other festivals are a mix of genres. The Lausanne Carnival constitutes the biggest public festival in the city and takes place with the sound of Guggenmusik, traditional Swiss brass band music, in the background. Lausanne Estivale, which is held from mid-June to mid-September, is a free entertainment extravaganza with over 450 events, including dance, music, theatre, cinema, comedy, tours and unusual walks. The only one of its kind in Europe, the Festival de la Cité is a programme of free open-air multicultural shows that brings together lovers of music, drama, comedy, dance and the visual arts for a whole week (end of June). The Electrosanne Festival is centred on the theme of electronic music and offers live performances, exhibitions, conferences and workshops, as well as a music party with two free open-air stages. The JazzOnze+ Festival is a series of concerts and documentaries promoting contemporary jazz and improvised productions. For over 10 years, the Lausanne Underground Film & Music Festival has explored independent musical and cinematographic works. In the same vein, Les Urbaines presents free of charge around forty performances, installations, exhibitions, viewings, shows and concerts designed to explore less known and surprising art scenes.

In the field of dance, the Les Printemps de Sévelin Festival offers young choreographers a professional environment in which to produce and present their work. Let us not omit to mention the International Comic Strip Festival in Lausanne, BD-FIL, which stands out as a cultural and convivial event, inviting young and old alike to discover the world of comic strip through exhibitions, meetings, tributes and cartoons. Finally, Museum Night brings together more than 25 museums from Lausanne and Pully, who open their doors to the public for 12 hours and provide over a hundred attractions for a single admission ticket.

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