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Summer festivals in the Alps

Highlights of an inspiring summer

The Alps have become as popular in summer as they are in winter. And it is not only nature and sports lovers flocking to the jaw-dropping European mountain range but also those passionate about the arts. All kinds of cultural festivals take place in the region; classical music, jazz, cinema and much more. Here we have selected four spots where the arts and culture programme stands out this summer. Swap your skis for heels and discover the cultural gems awaiting visitors in this, one of the most beautiful corners of the world.

KITZBÜHEL – Austria

With the advent of the summer, the picturesque Tyrolese town of Kitzbühel becomes a hive of activity with an array of captivating events to suit every taste, including a rich cultural programme.

Elïna Galanča performing at Classical Music in the Alps, Kitzbühel.

Elïna Galanča is performing at Classical Music in the Alps. The conductor, Karel Mark Chichon, is also the artistic director of Classic in the Alps, and Elïna’s husband. Photo @ Kitzbühel Tourismus.

Kitzbühel Klassik takes part in early July. From the 3rd to the 5th, the city hosts young Voices of the Future, an opportunity to enjoy performances by the emerging talents from the Opernstudio of the Vienna Volksoper, in a series of captivating concerts at Kitzbühel Klassik in Stadtpark. Admission to these performances is free, offering a delightful cultural experience to the local community and visitors alike.

On 6th July in the evening, the 11th edition of Classic in the Alps will take place, featuring Latvian mezzo-soprano, Elīna Garanča, considered one of the world’s major classical music stars. The combination of an outstanding programme paying homage to Puccini and Maria Callas, an enthusiastic audience, and the stunning mountain panorama will make the evening a unique experience for both artists and spectators.

In August, it is the turn of cinema. Film festival Kitzbühel takes place from 19th – 25th August this summer. Now in its 12th edition, the festival attracts not only filmmakers and stars but also industry experts who come to Kitzbühel to support and enjoy a festival that was created to champion emerging talent, and as such, provides a platform for young directors to unveil their inaugural cinematic endeavours. The festival welcomes a myriad of cinematic expressions, from contemporary to traditional, subtle to overt, and executed in various formats ranging from Super 8 to 35mm.

To start planning your Kitzbühel summer trip, visit: www.kitzbuehel.com/en

GSTAAD – SWITZERLAND

The elegant resort of Gstaad became the home of legendary violinist Yehudi Menuhin and his family in 1957. That same year, he founded the Menuhin Festival & Academy Festival, which over the years has grown to be one of Switzerland’s premier cultural events, attracting internationally acclaimed musicians and enthusiastic audiences.

The area’s imposing natural environment serves as the backdrop for the festival, which runs from 12th July – 31st August. This year is themed “Transformation” following the “Change” cycle that started three years ago. The thematical concept is explored through various concert series such as Trans-Mission, Transcendence, and Trans-Classics, reflecting changes in environmental, social, economic, and artistic realms.

The international star, Argentine cellist Sol Gabetta, performs at the Gstaad Menuhin Festival, where she has been coming for over two decades. Photo © Raphael Faux.

Highlights include the Carte Blanche Series by renowned violinist Julia Fischer, who curates four special programmes collaborating with other first-class musicians, such as Valerie Steenken, Jonas Kaufmann and Camilla Nylund. Acclaimed pianist, wildlife advocate and human rights activist Hélène Grimaud is performing on three different evenings as well as Yuja Wang, the gifted Chinese pianists best known for her theatrical style.

The Menuhin Festival also includes performances by the London Symphony Orchestra and the Budapest and Gstaad Festival Orchestras, outdoor concerts and educational programmes with renowned artists.

Find detailed information to organise your trip to Gstaad this summer HERE.

VALLE D’AOSTA – ITALY

Nestled in the heart of the Italian Alps, the Aosta Valley is a region famous for its stunning landscapes, rich history, and vibrant culture. In summer, the region hosts numerous cultural events, including two outstanding film festivals.

The Gran Paradiso Film Festival runs 22nd – 27th July in Cogne and in July and August in the valleys of the Gran Paradiso National Park. It is quite a unique festival in the sense that is the only international festival of its kind dedicated to nature cinema. The festival was created in 1984 with the intention of increasing awareness about natural heritage and respect for the environment.

Gran Paradiso Festival, Valle d'Aosta.

The Gran Paradiso Film Festival takes place against the magnificent backdrop of the majestic Alps.

There are three sections: an international competition open feature films and medium-length films dedicated to nature from anywhere in the world; CortoNatura, open to international short fiction films, short animated films or short documentaries dedicated to nature, in order to increase youth participation to the festival and promoting audiovisual production related to nature; and the cycle of events De Rerum Natura, which borrows its name from the 1st century didactic poem of the same name by first-century Roman poet and philosopher, Lucretius.

More information about the Gran Paradiso Film Festival, HERE.

Known as the Oscars of mountain cinema, the Cervino CineMountain Festival (29th July – 5th August) shares with Gran Paradiso its connection with nature, as it aims at revealing and sharing the relationship between the mountains and the cultures that have lived and live in them. Taking place at an altitude of 2000 metres, Cervino CineMountain is the highest international film festival in Europe.

Cervino Film Festival, Valle d'Aosta

The Cervino CineMountain Festival aims at increasing awareness about the fragility of the mountains, and how important it is to preserve them for future generations.

The week-long programme offers screenings of films that have stood out the most in international film festivals – festivals which make up the International Alliance for Mountain Film circuit, stretching from Trento to Kathmandu and representing some of the most important film events throughout the world.

Find out more about the Cervino CineMountain Festival HERE.

CHAMONIX – FRANCE

Established in 2010 by internationally acclaimed French-Armenian jazz musician and composer André Manoukian, the Cosmo Jazz Festival is an unforgettable event that blends music and the stunning landscapes of the Chamonix Valley.

Cosmo Jazz Festival, Chamonix

From 22nd – 27th July visitors will be able to enjoy free performances and a wide range of traditional and contemporary jazz at unique Alpine venues, such as the Aiguille du Midi, the Brévent Cable Car Station or Lac Blanc.

Como Jazz Festival puts special emphasis on the connection between music and nature. The organisers have gone to great extents to make sure the performances complement the spectacular surroundings. The idea is that after such an organic experience, visitors will be more willing than ever before to join on conservation efforts.

Last but not least, Cosmo also includes a series of cultural events and workshops that give the public the chance to learn and interact with the artists in the festival. Learn more about the Cosmo Jazz Festival and organise your visit HERE.

Words: Julia Pasarón

Opening image: Cuban jazz pianist Roberto Fonseca playing at the Cosmo Festival in Chamonix. Photo © Guillaume Mollier.

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