Swiss National Day - August 1st, Geneva
Geneva might not seem very Swiss at all, unless it's the First of August. Then suddenly, all inhabitants and visitors - wherever they come from - will gather in public squares allover the canton to celebrate this day. Patriotic speeches, music and dance, sausages and soup, fireworks and bonfires all are "musts" of every celebration, reminders of William Tell and the famous apple shot saga. The city of Geneva celebrates in the parque des Bastions (next to place Neuve and Grand Theatre), other towns that have most enjoyable fetes are Meyrin, Bernex, Grand-Saconnex, Hermance or just about every small or large village. Great to meet people by sharing a bottle of Geneva wine.
Or why not visit one of the farmers in the canton (or in other cantons) for the traditional 1st of August Brunch and fun? A nominal amount is charged for every participant and advance reservation is required, see website address (for canton of GE) below.
Geneva is the most international city anywhere with a cultural mix that belongs to it. Americans celebrate a large 4th of July Festival, Africans have their soccer tournament, Asian restaurants and shops abound, every second bistrot now belongs to Portuguese, Spanish or Italians, Geneva has also Switzerland's largest mosque, a Russian Orthotox Church and a Synagogue. But whatever the origins of its habitants, they all participate at the traditional Escalade celebrations early December, visit Europe's most important car show some 6 weeks before Easter, and meet at the Swiss National Day on August 1 - bonfires and fireworks in every town and village - followed by 10 days festival time, the fetes de Geneve, with fun fair, music, parades, fireworks and hundreds of stands along the lake. Not to forget the cultural Festival de la Batie mid-September and concerts, operas, theatres all year round.
For music lovers, the world-famous Montreux Jazz Fesrival, as well as the Paleo Festival in Nyon, both take place every year in July on the shores of Lake Geneva.