Immerse yourself in the magic of the Verbier Festival, where classical music meets alpine beauty
Nestled in the breathtaking Swiss Alps at an elevation of 1500 metres is a picturesque little village called Verbier. While it may be best known as a premier skiing resort that attracts everyone from the royal family members to music and film stars, there are plenty of reasons to visit it in the summer, too.
One of the main draws? The Verbier Festival—a magical two-week celebration of classical music at the top of the world. Here are seven irresistible reasons why you should immerse yourself in the musical delights of Verbier this summer.
A classical feast
Despite its small size, Verbier attracts some of the brightest stars of classical music each summer. Martha Argerich, Khatia Buniatishvili, Lang Lang, and Yuja Wang are just some of the numerous world-famous soloists who have become the festival’s loyal guests and supporters.
Whether you’re a fan of grandiose classical operas, a sucker for elegant chamber orchestra affairs, or a connoisseur of delicate baroque sonatas, the diverse and extensive programme caters to every musical inclination.
From grandiose operas to elegant chamber orchestra performances, there's something for everyone. Image via LucienGra
And if you're craving a contemporary twist, the festival’s unique UNLTD series has got you covered. Looking towards the future, it shines a spotlight on emerging talent and engaging interactive performances with cross-generational appeal. Here, you’ll get a chance to witness what some of the most original young creators are up to, at trendy venues like Bar le Crock No Name or Taratata where all the cool cats hang out.
This year’s highlights include opera stars warming up at a karaoke session, discussions on advances in audio technology, exuberant dance sessions where classical meets electro, urban Middle Eastern fusion nights, and much more.
Melodies in motion
Verbier spreads out over a vast sunny plateau with breathtaking views. Majestic snow-capped peaks pierce the heavens, reaching towards the blue skies, while pristine alpine meadows unfurl a vibrant tapestry of colors beneath.
The air is crisp and invigorating in the daytime, carrying the earthy scent of pine and the melody of birdsong. In the evening, it turns into something downright magical—sweetly humid but fresh, it’s nothing short of intoxicating in the warm glow of the golden hour.
Performances in the mountains are something of a Verbier tradition. Image via Mark Shapiro
During the festival, this fairytale setting often becomes one with the music. Imagine enjoying Bach’s partitas in the heart of the Alps—that’s exactly what you can do during a guided hike into the mountains in the company of musicians. If you happen to be a morning person, you can charge your batteries for the day ahead at a yoga session punctuated by musical interludes while you’re welcoming the sun.
There's nothing like the buzz of anticipation ahead of a performance. Image via Alpima
You’ll also see buskers putting on unexpected shows on every street corner and square of the resort; and simply the very act of sauntering from one awe-inspiring venue to another in between concerts, soaking in the views and the people, prosecco in hand, is like a hazy dream you never want to end.
A playground for adventurers
If walking doesn't quench your thirst for excitement, there’s plenty more to choose from at Verbier. Why not lace up your sturdy hiking shoes and hit one of the numerous, meticulously marked trails? Choose your level of difficulty, and stroll past glistening ice-cold irrigation channels, greet the cows leisurely grazing on the lush green meadows and take in the stunning Alpine landscapes.
"The skies are always dotted with colourful glides, swirling and eddying around all day"
Too tired to walk down? Hop onto a cable car and gently sway your way down while soaking in the incredible vistas beneath you.
You can choose from many different trails, varying in difficulty
And for those seeking a thrill, rock climbing, mountain biking, and—gulp—paragliding are popular choices. The latter is an incredibly popular sport in Verbier, with the skies always dotted with colourful glides, swirling and eddying around all day.
Forgot your gear at home? Or perhaps you have no gear at all and just spontaneously decided to try your hand at something new? They’ve got your back. The streets of Verbier are lined with rental stores and shops that will be more than happy to advise, consult, train, measure and equip you head to toe (this visitor needed some heavy-duty trekking shoes and not only left the store with a perfect new pair, but also a new-found wealth of knowledge on the intricacies of Alpine hiking).
"The mountains are there to absorb any excess cheese-induced levitation"
Thirty years young
What better time to pay a visit to Verbier than on its 30th birthday? For this very special anniversary, the organisers are bringing together some of the classical music luminaries who made its name, as well as some exceptional new-generation artists.
Some of the many highlights include Yuja Wang with Rachmaninov’s thunderous Third Piano Concerto, a remarkable first-time live collaboration between two greats, bass-baritone Bryn Terfel and pianist Daniil Trifonov, and, of course, the 30th Anniversary Gala with its promise of surprises and a smorgasbord of different musical works and artist constellations.
So make your way up the winding Alpine roads and join in the festivities, marking the remarkable journey of Verbier from a humble festival under a single tent to an annual pilgrimage for classical music enthusiasts worldwide.
The Verbier music festival takes place between July 14-30, 2023. For tickets and more information, visit verbierfestival.com
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