Geneva can be described as a global melting pot – much like a fondue moitié-moitié because so many of the city’s inhabitants are half Swiss and half something else.

In fact, almost two out of three Geneva residents hold a foreign passport according to local news channel SwissInfo.  So, it’s no surprise that Geneva’s rich cultural scene reflects this diversity. 
If you don’t speak French, fear not – the city offers many English-friendly cultural options.

Geneva is a city of music. The summer usually kicks off with the city’s Fête de la Musique, a festival celebrating and showcasing local musicians of all genres in the streets, on open-air stages, in concert halls, courtyards and churches. 

Another highlight on the music scene is the popular summer music concerts (“Musiques en été 2019”) ranging from jazz to soul, reggae to classical music and performed by artists from around the world. Your choice whether to sit back and relax or dance the night away. These free outdoor concerts are held on the Ella Fitzgerald Stage in Geneva’s beautiful Parc La Grange throughout the summer. Join expats and locals alike with a picnic and maybe a lawn chair or two. Photos from last year’s event can be viewed here

Looking ahead, make note of “Les Nuits du Monde”, a world music festival held in November at the Alhambra music hall and the St. Gervais church. You’ll hear unique music from all around the world, from Mongolian throat singing to traditional Sardinian tunes.

For classical music lovers, you’ll want to visit the stunning Victoria Hall. We definitely recommend the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande (OSR), which just celebrated its 100th anniversary. 
Also don’t miss the Festival de Bellerive. Created in 1985 and held annually at La Ferme de Saint-Maurice since 1999, this festival brings a selection of classical music to a beautifully wooded area just outside Geneva, boasting a breathtaking panorama of Lake Geneva and the vineyards. 

Join contemporary art lovers at Geneva’s quarterly hip Nuit des Bains, where art galleries in the trendy Bains district open their doors for a very cultural soirée.  A similar open galleries arts evening has recently sprung up in the Old Town.

Unfamiliar with Geneva’s museums? Check out the City of Geneva’s Cultural Trails, your detailed self-guided museums tour (with audio commentary!) that highlights different city districts. – also available in English. 

The city has a rich variety of no less than 40 private and public museums offering interesting permanent and temporary exhibitions. These range from the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MAMCO) to the National History Museum, the art deco-inspired Patek Philippe Museum for watch and jewellery lovers and the Art and History Museum, the largest museum in Geneva. The fine art collection in the latter is comprised of a vast array of European artists, from Rembrandt to Cézanne, and ranges from the Middle Ages to the 20th century. In addition to fine arts, this museum has a diverse collection of decorative arts, such as weaponry, dishware, and textiles. The Fondation Baur is located in a late 19th century townhouse and showcases more than 9,000 Chinese and Japanese works of art.

You’ll want to check out the many unique special exhibits going on throughout the year.

Every spring, Geneva’s museums open their doors for a themed cultural evening that we won’t miss for anything in the world: La Nuit des Musées. Go ahead and mark your calendars for next year’s event on May 9, 2020! 

mamco museum
As summer finally makes her appearance – she takes her time sometimes – you won’t want to miss Ciné Transat, a free outdoor film screening in the Perle du Lac park. With themed events and even karaoke, this event is a real hit. Bring a picnic and friends for a relaxed summer evening.

For English-language films, check out boutique cinema Ciné 17, our go-to spot for date nights. You’ll love the huge reclining seats, a wine bar, an outdoor terrace, and a great selection of VO (original language) films at a great location in the city centre.

Les Cinémas du Grütli is another great find, with films from around the world shown in their original version with French subtitles (“VOST”). We often make time for dinner or a drink at their artsy café, which offers an outdoor terrace in the summer. If you like healthy and vegetarian meals, their food is fab too!

Next up is the annual International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights (FIFDH), with guest speakers, prizes, a hackathon, and exhibitions. 
cine transat
cine transat
The recently renovated Grand Théâtre de Genève at Place de Neuve is a must-see! The next big performance is Sleeping Beauty by the Yacobson Ballet.

The Geneva English Drama Society (GEDS) puts on English-language productions from Shakespeare to contemporary plays, and invites new talent to audition! 
We can’t get enough of the Renegade Saints’ improv comedy (see them at Mr Pickwick pub. Check out our interview with troupe member Katt Cullen here

To stay up to date with cultural events in the city – check out our events.


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Article by Thingstodoingeneva

Things to do in Geneva  - the grapevine guide to the city.

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