Switzerland - Top ten cultural events for summer 2012

Switzerland offers a remarkable range of cultural events all benefiting from the spectacular natural setting

Switzerland is a country that is extraordinarily rich in culture, particularly during this summer season. Art, music, cinema, sports and much more provide a wealth of entertainment, with many events that have attained worldwide fame. Here's our pick of the season’s top ten events - in chronological order.

1. Show-jumping, Gründermoos Stadium, near St. Gallen, 31 May - 3 June 2012

CSIO Switzerland attracts top riders and horses from all over Europe competing for world ranking points and the CHF 880,000 in prize money. Tickets from csio.ch

2. Art Basel, Basel, 14-17 June 2012

One of the most important art shows for modern and contemporary works, it attracts about 300 of the world's leading art galleries, presenting over 2,500 artists from the great masters of modern art to the latest emerging stars. Last year’s show drew out over 65,000 visitors. The whole city of Basel comes alive during this week with many additional exhibitions and events. Open to the public from 14 to 17 June, 11.00 a.m. to 7.00 p.m., with preview and vernissage events by invitation on 12 and 13 June. Tickets start at CHF 40 for a day pass. See artbasel.com for further info.

3. Opernhaus Zürich, and the Zurich Festival, 15 June - 8 July 2012

The Swiss opera company Oper Zürich has established a powerful reputation, and this will be further consolidated by the arrival of Andreas Homoki, previously director of Berlin's Komische Oper opera house. The programme includes recitals, concerts and operas, such as Rigoletto, Un ballo in maschera, La Bohème, Othello, Simon Boccanegra and Falstaff. Classical music takes over the entire city from 15 June to 8 July with the Zurich Festival, and its impressive programme of events. Further information from opernhaus.ch

4. Fete de la Musique Genève, Geneva, 22-24 June 2012

This is Geneva's largest music festival, featuring over 100 acts at over 30 outdoor venues all over the city. There is a whole range of styles, from jazz to reggae, and most concerts are free of charge. For further info, see fetedelamusique.ch

5. Montreux Jazz Festival, Montreux, 29 June-14 July 2012

No longer solely reserved for jazz enthusiasts, the festival combines jazz legends with blues, rock and pop musicians, including BB King, Carlos Santana, Ian Anderson, Alanis Morissette, Pat Metheny, Van Morrison, Herbie Hancock and Bob Dylan. This year, Noel Gallagher and techno legend Herbert Grönemeyer are on the bill of this 16-day-long series of outdoor concerts. Free events run alongside big-ticket items as the city plays host to one of the world's greatest outdoor music festivals. Venues include concert halls, outdoor locations such as Parc Vernex, the railway station, and the Montreux Jazz Boats, small-scale performances on boats that sail on the lake. See montreuxjazz.com

6. British Classic Car Meeting, St. Moritz, 13-15 July 2012

This annual event brings together about 200 British cars, principally Rolls Royce, Bentley, Aston Martin, Lagonda, Jaguar, Daimler, Austin-Healey and Healey, and they take part in a series of rallies as well as the Concours d'Elegance. It has become a firm favourite amongst classic car enthusiasts, in part due to the spectacular Engadine landscapes that provide a sumptuous backdrop to the scintillating vehicles. Further info at bccm-stmoritz.ch

7. Fêtes de Genève, Geneva, 19 July-12 August 2012

The Fêtes de Genève is the highlight of the summer, attracting over two million visitors. A city-wide party with over 250 concerts, culinary specialities at stalls, a variety of entertainments, parades, fireworks every evening, and the final Techno Parade in which each float is a rave on wheels. The final fireworks display takes place on Saturday 11 August, with tickets on sale from June. For further information, see fetesdegeneve.ch

8. Festival del film Locarno, Locarno, 1-11 August 2012

The Locarno Film Festival has established an important reputation for the discovery of new talents. Young directors who were spotlighted here and went on to become major filmmakers include Stanley Kubrick, Spike Lee and Gus Van Sant. The public in the audience – up to 8,000 people – in Piazza Grande, with its gigantic open-air screen (26 x 14 metres), are on jury service, and decide the winner of the Prix du Public (which in previous editions has been awarded to films such as Bend it like Beckham, and The Lives of Others.) The principal prize is the Pardo d'oro (Golden Leopard), won last year by Argentine-Swiss co-production Abrir puertas y ventanas. For further information and programme of screenings, see pardolive.ch

9. Polo Gold Cup Gstaad, Gstaad, 16-19 August 2012

Argentine polo players, young Italian socialites, Bollywood royalty and European jet-setters all gather for three days of polo and partying in the summer playground that is Gstaad. The Polo grounds have a small fair area where one can check out private jets, buy champagne, polo clothes and pass the day in the sunshine. Wind up the day at the Gstaad Palace for dinner and dancing. Info from pologstaad.ch

10. St Moritz Art Masters, St Moritz, 24 August-2 September 2012

An insiders' secret, the St. Moritz Art Masters is hosted by Cartier, Daimler-Benz and private bankers to the world, Julius Bär. It consists of a programme of two weeks' thought-provoking art walks led by famous artists, dinners, concerts and galas for the St. Moritz elite who have been enjoying the splendour of the area off-season. Stay at the Kempinski Hotel, at the epicentre of events. At night, artists often gather at the Castell Zuoz, a contemporary art hotel in Zuoz near St. Moritz, which has a remarkable collection of contemporary art. For the complete programme and further info, see stmoritzartmasters.com

Bonus one-day event: Weltklasse Zürich, Zurich, 30 August 2012

Weltklasse Zürich, held on 30 August at Letzigrund Stadium, is known as the "one-day Olympics," partly because of the quality of athletes that it attracts and the many world records that have been broken here, such as the 5.06-metre pole vault record set by Yelena Isinbayeva in 2009. This year, 32 events will be held. For info and tickets, see diamondleague-zurich.com