What to Do in Geneva This Spring: Activities and Events in Town and by the Lake
Spring is such a promising season. With it come longer days, open-air nights out, nature walks, and lots more sunshine. We’ll dust off our bikes (and soon, our bathing suits), eat lunch on the patio once again, and start getting ready for summer. At the beginning of every new season, Le Colibry shares events and activities for all ages and interests. Enjoy these spring activities in Geneva!
March 31-April 14 – Green Film Festival
The festival’s mission is to introduce people to films about the environment, sustainable development, and the relationships between developed and developing countries. Lots of screenings, events, and lectures are scheduled at the Ethnography Museum, the Museum of Natural History, in independent movie theaters, and at the Touvière farm.
Detailed schedule: www.ville-geneve.ch
Le Colibry’s pick: Astronomie et écologie, des étoiles et des hommes (Astronomy and Ecology, Stars and Man) and Earth: Seen from the Heart (La terre vue du cœur) with Hubert Reeves followed by a discussion with Benoit Reeves – April 5 at the Cinérama Empire in Carouge.
April 5-7 – 2019 European Craft Days
This year’s theme is “Signatures Territoriales” (regional signatures). It’s an opportunity to discover the savoir-faire in design, creation, upkeep, and restoration that artisans have developed in their crafts over centuries. Meet and learn from craftsmen at their studios, or go behind the scenes in Geneva’s museums and theaters and take a costume, wig, or makeup workshop.
Info and schedule: www.metiersdart.ch. Free, but some activities require you to sign up in advance.
Le Colibry’s pick: the Pavillon Sicli is collaborating with the Maison de l’Architecture to present an exhibition and lecture all about wood, a sustainable and durable material with infinite possibilities. www.artdebatir.ch
April 10-July 7 – Asia Chic, the newest exhibition at the Baur Foundation
“The influence of Chinese and Japanese textiles on the fashions of the Roaring Twenties,” or how the loose-fitting, flowy, and printed kimono charmed and inspired the biggest names in fashion and freed women from their corsets.
More info: www.fondationbaur.ch
May 9 – A Night in Eaux-Vives (Un soir aux Eaux-Vives)
From 6:00 to 10:00 p.m., gallery hop meets happy hour in the Eaux-Vives neighborhood.
Le Colibry’s pick: Galerie 1 2 3 will be showing a collection of James Bond posters from movies like “Dr No,” “From Russia with Love,” “Goldfinger,” “Diamonds Are Forever” and “The Man With the Golden Gun.”
More info: unsoir.ch
Put it on your calendar:
- Night at the Museum (La nuit des musées): Saturday, May 18 from 6:00-8:00 p.m. More info: nuitdesmusees.ch
- International Museum Day: Sunday, May 19 from 2:00-6:00 p.m.
- La Nuit des Bains (gallery hop in the Les Bains district) June 20
April 6-7 – Festichoc in Versoix: the largest Swiss chocolate festival. Watch demonstrations, meet artisan chocolatiers, and De nombreuses animations, l’occasion de rencontrer des artisans chocolatier, and tour the famous Favarger factory.
More info: www.festichoc.ch
March 30-31 – Vive la Magie magic festival: at the Bâtiment des Forces Motrices. More info: vivelamagie.com
April 4 – Bande-Son Symphony Orchestra plays Victoria Hall
This year’s theme is “Tales & Legends.” 90 musicians and 150 choir singers will perform pieces from some well-known fantasy movies, including Peter Pan, Shrek, Lord of the Rings, plus a tribute to the masterful Danny Elfman, who composed scores for Edward Scissorhands, Sleepy Hollow and Alice in Wonderland. Info and tickets: www.bande-son.ch
April 11 – Peter Bence piano concert at Victoria Hall
Your teens will appreciate this piano virtuoso’s takes on Michael Jackson, Queen and Sia. His playing style is daring, lively, and expressive, and blurs the line between classical and pop music. Info and tickets: concertpeterbence.ch
Here’s a sneak preview…
Green Workshops for kids at the Botanical Gardens: 6- to 13-year-olds can discover flora and fauna during these workshops. Carnivorous plants, molecular biology experiments, and plants that need animals to survive – what great opportunities for kids to learn and observe the world around them! For kids (6-9 years) and juniors (10-13 years), Wednesday afternoons from 2:00-4:30, pre-registration required, 12 Swiss francs per workshop.
More info: ateliersverts.ch
May 10-June 16 – Cirque du Soleil
Cirque du Soleil is coming back to the Plaine de Plainpalais with a new show called Totem.
More info: cirquedusoleil.com
April 14 – Course des Ponts race
This unique foot race will take your over and around some of Geneva’s bridges. Two choices: a 10k run or an 8k walk. The starting line is on the Hans Wilsdorf Bridge.
More info: coursedesponts.ch
May 11-12 – Harmony Geneva Marathon for UNICEF
The renowned race starts in the countryside, takes you into the heart of the city, and ends right in front of the famous Jet d’Eau. There are 8 different race formats so people of all ages and experience levels can participate.
Info and registration: harmonygenevemarathon.com
May 15 – Break out your bathing suit
Genève Plage beach reopens, and there are lots of activities planned for the season.
Put it on your calendar:
- June 21 – Grand opening of the new Eaux-Vives public beach
More info: plagepubliquedeseauxvives.ch
- May 18-25 – Geneva Tennis Open at the Eaux-Vives park tennis club. Info and tickets: genevaopen.com
- June 15 – Bol d’Or, the world’s biggest lake sailing regatta. Can’t-miss deals: the Société Nautique de Genève yacht club will be open to the public during the event. And to celebrate its 200th birthday, Mirabaud is putting on two free concerts on the Neptune.
More info: boldormirabaud.ch
All spring – Bicycle around Geneva
Set off on one of the bike rides suggested by the City of Geneva, or go on one of the free guided cultural tours offered during the “samedis du vélo” (bicycle Saturday) events.
Good to know: there are stations set up all over the city where you can rent bikes for free. More info: Genèveroule
And be sure you don’t miss the gorgeous rhododendron and azalea blooms in the Eaux-Vives and Moynier parks.
March-October – Gardener’s Tour of the Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
Learn some gardening secrets on the free tours that are held every Thursday. Experts in horticulture and botany lead the tours and explore different topics each week. More info: Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
Starting April 21 – Admire the irises at Château de Vullierens
Since 1955, the château’s 75-acre garden has housed a collection of over 400 varieties of irises, in bloom from mid-April until the end of the summer. The Château de Vullierens gardens are open every day from April 21 to June 16 from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (be sure to get there before 5). Count on a half-day trip if you want to see the entire grounds.
More info: chateauvullierens.ch
The Hottest Restaurant This Spring?
The revamped bistro-style Le Floris. There’s a new, more modern and cozier dining room in addition to the beautiful terrace that affords breathtaking views of the lake and the Jura mountain range. Chef Claude Legras gave up his Michelin stars with the renovation, but the food is still just as good! Rich and flavorful, and filled with ingredients that are straight from the market.
Expect to spend: 21 Swiss francs for the daily lunch special (comes with a side salad and is available Tuesday-Friday), or 26 with a glass of wine. Le Colibry loved the Provençal-style Lake Geneva Perch fillets and the scallop and bass tartare.
Another great idea: inviting the chef and his food truck is a unique way to spice up your next event, party, or birthday. Or, look for the truck around town during lunchtime on weekdays (delicious bagels and a daily special for 16 Swiss francs).
More info: lefloris.com
Other springtime lunch ideas?
My list of favorite lunch spots includes restaurants that are good in any season. Every Genevan lunch restaurant on the list was selected for its great ambiance, excellent cuisine, balanced meal selections, friendly service, and good quality/price ratio. Most also have a daily special for around 20 Swiss francs. Basically, they’re restaurants worth spending your lunch break at. Read about them
Swap your table for a picnic blanket…
Stop by a food truck and eat your lunch in the park or by the lake.
Fresh, local, and in-season food are a few of the criteria the city looked at when choosing the 10 foods trucks that are allowed to park around town. There’s something for everyone. They’re open from 11:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and prices range from 8-17 Swiss francs.
Where to find them: genevemarches.ch
May 25 – Geneva Caves Ouvertes 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Geneva has about 3500 acres of vineyards, putting it in third place among all Swiss cantons. During the Caves Ouvertes, nearly 90 winemakers open their doors to the public. It’s a nice opportunity to meet them and taste their products. The pass costs just 10 Swiss francs and includes a tasting glass.
More info: geneveterroir.ch
Put it on your calendar:
June 3-16 – Veggie Week: this culinary event takes place in Geneva’s most prominent restaurants and features vegetarian masterpieces from some of Switzerland’s best chefs. More info: veggieweek.ch
July 18-August 11 – Fête des Vignerons Winegrowers’ Festival: this festival was named to UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity List in 2016. Get your tickets early, because it only happens once every 25 years.
More info: fetesdesvignerons.ch
FESTIVE & MUSICAL ACTIVITIES
It’s time to get your tickets for this year’s lakeside music festivals…
April 5-13 – Cully Jazz Festival
First up, Thomas Dutronc and the Erik Truffaz quartet at the Cully Jazz Fest.
More info: cullyjazz.ch
June 5-8 – Caribana in Crans-près-Céligny
Up and coming… This festival is small but very on-trend, featuring artists like Franz Ferdinand, Caravan Palace, Nekfeu, Robin Shultz, Kodaline, Skip the Use, Synapson, and Agar Agar.
More info: caribana-festival.ch
June 28-July 13 – Montreux Jazz Festival
Another town, another ambiance… The full lineup won’t be announced until April 9, but you can already get your tickets for the open-air Elton John stadium show on June 29.
More info: montreuxjazzfestival.com
July 23-28 – Paleo Festival in Nyon
The lineup was recently announced, and it’s going to be a good one. The lineup includes: The Cure, Polo & Pan, Lana del Rey, Christine and the Queens, Charlotte Gainsbourg and many more. I think very highly of this festival because it’s very well organized and invites some of the biggest names in music in the world. Tickets go on sale April 3.
More info: paleo.ch
June 29-July 6 – Évian Rencontres Musicales
Head to the other side of the lake for this classical music festival at Grange au Lac, an amazing venue with great acoustics. If you missed Renaud Capuçon when he played in Gstaad, he’ll be in Évian on July 1. More info: lagrangeaulac.com
RAINY DAY ALTERNATIVES
- Read a book: Les Soeurs Livanos by Stéphanie des Horts is about the lifestyles of two rich and famous sisters, Tina Onassis and Eugenie Niarchos. Somewhere between fairy tale and Greek tragedy, it’s definitely a juicy read. Unfortunately an English translation isn’t available yet, but think of it as a good excuse to practice your French. Learn more
- Go to the movies: Green Book, directed by Peter Farelly and starring the incredible Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali. In a 1962 racially segregated United States, Dr. Don Shirley, a world-renowned black piano player, hires Tony Lip, an Italian-American bouncer from the Bronx, to drive and protect him during a concert tour in the Deep South. It took home 3 Oscars, including Best Picture. A must-see!
- Take a masterclass: David Lynch teaches one on creativity and film and Natalie Portman teaches one on acting. Even if you don’t end up taking a class from the website, the intro video might inspire you to learn something new! 190 Swiss francs/year. Learn more
- “Detox” your home: if you don’t have time to read Marie Kondo’s bestseller, take a look at Le Colibry’s recap of the Kondo method and learn how to organize and declutter. Once that’s done, check out India Mahdavi’s home decor tips and give your home a fresh look.
- Do some online shopping: the tropical patterned sustainable Clima bottle from 24bottle is perfect for spring. These double-walled aluminum-free steel bottles keep drinks hot for 12 hours and cold for 24. Get yours from the Le Colibry e-boutique