The joy of the open air

Music, sports, theatre, shows, cinema, opera, hot air balloons... Throughout the year, the canton of Vaud moves to the rhythm of big festivals, international events and unusual happenings.

Jazz, rock and classical music

First run in 1967, the Montreux Jazz Festival is one of the most famous events of its kind in the world . In its early years, it welcomed the great names of jazz, including Keith Jarrett, Nina Simone, Ella Fitzgerald and Stephane Grapelli, and the festival’s guest list has rapidly become a “Who's who” of modern music. Artists like Stan Getz, Cannonball Adderley, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Oscar Peterson, Count Basie, Deep Purple, BB King and many others have become regulars. Today, the festival attracts almost 250,000 visitors each year, now also showcasing Brazilian, Cuban and African music as well as new forms of rock.

The Paléo Festival in Nyon. Thirty years after it was inaugurated in 1976, Paléo has become one of the biggest festivals of music in Europe. Each summer, tens of thousands of festival-goers from around the world gather to hear more than 80 artists and groups, mainly from the world of rock, for the best part of a week.

The Montreux/Vevey Festival International de Musique et d'Art lyrique is staged each year in Montreux’s magnificent Stravinski Auditorium. This is one Europe’s leading festivals of classical music, spotlighting some of the best-known lyrical artists and musicians in the world together with promising young voices that its president, Christian Chorier, takes such pleasure in discovering.

In the springs of each year, the Cully Jazz Festival hosts a series of free jazz concerts. Right in the heart of the wine-producing region of Lavaux, these gatherings give a whole new dimension to jazz. Its reputation has grown so quickly that it now welcomes groups as well-known as the James Taylor Quartet, Pee Wee Ellis, Malcolm Braff & Eric Truffaz, and Lucky Peterson.

Lausanne Bach Festival draws in talented young European musicians each autumn to pay homage to one the greatest geniuses in the history of music. 

Dance, theatre, opera and concerts

Created in 1973, the Prix de Lausanne is an international competition for young dancers of all nationalities aged 15 to 18 who are not yet professionals.

Each August, Nyon plays host to the Festival des arts vivants (FAR) , a cultural event sometimes discordant but always hitting the right note. New, unusual and humorous shows are given their first performance in the popular Usine à Gaz venue. The festival never fails to draw a lively response or provide big breakthroughs.

The Festival de la Cité is ten days and ten nights of open air theatre, dance and concerts celebrated in the middle of July, right in the heart of the Old Town of Lausanne.

Staged each summer, Avenches Opera Festival highlights famous works in the magnificent ancient Roman amphitheatre.


Lausanne hosts a number of national and international sporting events, including:

  • Athletissima: The second most important athletics meeting in the world in terms of performances in 2006.
  • Equissima: National horse show held annually.
  • Grand-prix du Beau-Rivage Palace: First class regatta, attracting top sailing stars to test their skills off the Quai d'Ouchy.
  • The Tour de romandie and sometimes the Tour de Suisse (cycling) pass through Lausanne.
  • Numerous triathlon races (World Cup, World and European Championships).
  • The Snowboard World Cup in Leysin.
  • The Prix de Lausanne (dancing).
  • The Lausanne Marathon: Reputed to be one of the most attractive marathons in the world, on the Lake Geneva shoreline.

International Hot-air Balloon Festival: More than 80 balloons from 18 countries meet up in the skies above Château-d'Oex. Hot air balloons, special shapes and airships provide for a highly colourful spectacle.

Via Roma: Each year in summer, the main street in the old Roman city of Avenches is decorated with Roman columns, giving it the look and feel of a Mediterranean town. A festive atmosphere is guaranteed, complete with street musicians and typical Italian cuisine.