The best arts and culture events in Switzerland this spring

Satisfy your cultural cravings for Spring 2018 with our comprehensive guide
Art Basel
By Katharina Sand |

It isn’t just the improving weather that makes spring worth going outside for – there are also tons of amazing exhibitions and artsy goings-on that you need to go and investigate. From timeless work by masters like Picasso to modern dance to book fairs to cutting-edge contemporary art festivals, there’s a wealth of wonderfully arty things to do going on throughout some of the country’s best museums and galleries in spring 2018.

We’ve picked out the very best events below to satisfy even the most discerning culture vultures.

Vitra Design Museum, Time Out Switzerland
© Hasse Persson
Museums, Art and design

Night Fever. Designing Club Culture 1960 – Today

icon-location-pin Basel-Stadt

Subcultures and sequins, fashion and flyers, lights and music: nightclubs are immersive epicentres of pop culture and design. This major exhibition documenting the cultural identity of the nightclub starts with the Radical Design movement heyday of Italy in the 1960s and, of course, includes New York’s Studio 54 and Manchester’s Haçienda. Films, photography and interactive installations by artists including Mark Leckey, designer Konstantin Grcic and even album artwork from a classic Grace Jones record. 

Vitra Design Museum. Until Sep 9.

LAC Lugano Arte e Cultura
Art, Contemporary art

Picasso: A Different Gaze

icon-location-pin Lugano

Lugano’s Museo d’Arte della Svizzera Italiana (MASI Lugano) pays homage to the great Spanish master in an exhibition organised in cooperation with the Musée Picasso of Paris and curated by Carmen Giménez, one of the world’s leading authorities on the artist. Comprising 120 works all executed between 1905 and 1967, many of the works in the exhibition are on paper and reveal a more intimate side of Picasso, as well as his creative and personal progression.

Museo d’Arte della Svizzera Italiana. Until Jun 17.

Steps Dance Festival, Zurich, Time Out Switzerland
Photo: Denis Kooné Kuhnert

Dance Festival Steps

The biannual international contemporary Dance Festival Steps takes place on 36 stages across Switzerland. Many of the performances by companies such as Faso Danse Théâtre from West Africa or choreographer Jeon Misook from Korea are Swiss premieres. The programme includes workshops for students and professional dancers, plus a symposium.

Venues around Switzerland. Apr 12-May 5.

Things to do, Event spaces

Salon du Livre Genève (Geneva Book Fair)

icon-location-pin Grand-Saconnex

The place to rub shoulders with the latest Goncourt Prize winners – and their fans. Geneva’s literary fair will host over 1,000 authors, such as Douglas Kennedy, Joël Dicker and French badboy intellectual Frédéric Beigbeder. There’ll be a ‘New York Pavilion’, Valais wine-tastings, a cookbook lounge, an African salon, and graphic novels, too. 

Palexpo. Apr 25-29.

Fondation Martin Bodmer, Bodmer Library, Geneva, Time Out Switzerland
Alpra ArazeL/Wikimedia Commons

Des Jardins et des Livres

The Bodmer Foundation is among the largest private libraries in the world, including early or rare editions of Goethe’s ‘Faust’, Shakespeare, Molière, and the Gutenberg Bible, among 150,000 items in some 80 languages. This summer, the Mario Botta-designed space is showcasing exceptional books on gardens. A bit of Eden.

The Bodmer Foundation, Route Martin Bodmer 19-21, Geneva. Apr 28-Sep 9.

Centre d'Art Contemporain Genève, Geneva, Time Out Switzerland
Maxime Lassagne/Wikimedia Commons

To Camp: One Week of Living, Working and Performing

From May 7 to 13, a group of 17 young artists will set up camp to live, sleep, cook and work around the clock in the Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève. During the final weekend, the audience is invited to enter their ‘camp’, and participate in lectures, dinners, screenings, workshops, festivities and performances.

Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève, Rue des Vieux-Grenadiers 10, Geneva. Open residence May 7-13, performances May 11-13.

Quartier des Bains

Nuits des Bains

Don’t miss the opening night of Geneva’s Quartier des Bains, when the streets are packed with art-lovers. Hailed by the New York Times as ‘Geneva’s own little SoHo’, the free after-hours event takes place in 17 art spaces around the city.

Various venues around Geneva. June 6.

Museum Tinguely Basel
© Christof Schuerpf
Museums, Art and design

Too early to Panic – Gerda Steiner & Jörg Lenzlinger

icon-location-pin Kleinbasel

The Swiss artist duo construct their peculiar poetic universe with invasive plants, hairy plastic, collected tears, and growing synthetic fertiliser crystals, all of which is equally fascinating for both adults and children.

Museum Tinguely, Paul-Sacher-Anlage 2, Basel. Jun 6-Sep 23.

Art, Basel, Time Out Switzerland
© Art Basel

Art Basel and Design Miami/Basel

The mother of all art fairs gets Basel buzzing with a breadth of modern and contemporary works, including paintings, drawings, sculpture, installations, prints, photography, video and digital art by more than 4,000 artists and 291 of the world's leading galleries. Wander through Unlimited’s video projections, large-scale installations and live performances, explore the neighboring Design Miami exhibition or head to the Parcours installations. Most cultural institutions in Basel participate in a region-wide week-long art euphoria that calls for stamina and good walking shoes.

Messe Basel, Messeplatz 10, Basel. Jun 14-17.

Explore Geneva’s artful side

Cathédrale Saint-Pierre Geneva cathedral
© Olivier Miche
Things to do

Geneva’s best museums and attractions

Boasting a spectacular setting around an Alpine lake and renowned for its global institutions, Geneva has plenty to offer, but its museums and other attractions are in very generous supply and always worth investigating. Here’s our guide to the essential venues to visit.

More to explore