Geneva Nightlife

The majority of nightlife venues cater to a cross-section of Geneva society. Gentlemen in curled moustaches and smart suits sit back-to-back with hotshot young diplomats and boho students. Come summertime and there’s further communal action in soaking up the evening sun over the long evenings. The only slight disadvantage in this apparently conflict-free society is that it does lack edge – it’s not always easy to find the wild spots in Geneva. But they are there, if you look hard enough.

If it’s culture you’re after, it was Voltaire's own theatrical productions in the Château de Ferney, in 1759, that initiated the theatrical tradition in Geneva, and since then the city has evolved into a home to all types of culture, from the conventional to the underground and from the classical to the avant-garde.

The Geneva Tourist Office and weekly guide Genève Le Guide (www.le-guide.ch) provide nightlife listings and information on cultural events and performances in the city. Tickets for most events can be booked from Ticket Corner (tel: 0900 800 800, in Switzerland only; www.ticketcorner.com) or music and book store Fnac (Rue de Rive 16; tel: (022) 816 1212).

Bars in Geneva

La Clémence

Something of an Old Town institution, La Clémence is a tiny bar with a reputation belying its size. Things really get moving in summer – its outdoor terrace (which itself is far from tiny) is one of the best spots for people-watching in Geneva. It takes on another life in winter, when the bar becomes more of a low-key hang-out, but equally enjoyable in many ways.

Address:
Place du Bourg-de-Four 20, Old Town, Geneva, 1204, Switzerland
Telephone: (022) 312 2498
Le Verre à Monique

Appropriately tucked away down a side street in Geneva's arty district, this delightful little bar proves that the city does have a quirky side, if you're willing to hunt for it. Evoking the glamour and shadiness of a prohibition-era speakeasy, it specialises in cocktails served up by talented mixologists in vintage glassware and teapots.

Address:
Rue des Savoises 19, Bains, Geneva, 1205, Switzerland
Telephone: (022) 320 2307
Rooftop 42

Newly opened on the top floor of a building on the chic Rue du Rhône (take the elevator from the bottom of number 42), this slick bar sports a terrace with one of the best views in Geneva. Regular DJs and live music, a menu featuring everything from burgers to sushi, and an extensive drinks list are quickly making this the place to be seen.

Address:
Rue du Rhône 42, Geneva, 1204, Switzerland
Telephone: (022) 346 7700

Clubs in Geneva

Macumba

Not so much a nightclub as a town’s worth of entertainment unto itself, Macumba is a giant venue sitting just a 10-minute drive from the outskirts of Geneva. There are six separate nightspots to choose from, which specialise variously in electronica, R’n’B and disco. Among other things, there’s also an Irish pub featuring karaoke, a wine bar and four restaurants. In other words, if you can’t find somewhere here that appeals, you’re not looking hard enough.

Address:
403 route d'Annecy, 74160, France
Telephone: +33 (04) 5049 2350
Palais Mascotte

Found in Geneva's rather shady Pâquis district, this cabaret and burlesque nightspot has been entertaining night-owls since 1887. Extending over three floors and decked out in plush red fabrics and Baroque-style furniture, it comprises a restaurant where you can dine while watching a cabaret show, a 1930s cafe presenting comedy and music, and a basement nightclub featuring a nightly burlesque performance, followed by DJs to 0500.

Address:
Rue de Berne 43, Pâquis, Geneva, 1201, Switzerland
Telephone: (022) 741 3333
Weetamix

Celebrating its 20th birthday in 2014, Weetamix was Geneva's first proper dance club and remains one of the most popular with local techno heads. Being slightly out of town, it is not the most conveniently located club, but it's worth making the schlep over. The venue regularly brings in well-known DJs and producers from beyond Switzerland, making it one of the most cutting-edge dance venues in town. It also has a reputation for being gay-friendly.

Address:
Chemin Jacques Phillibert de Sauvage, 37, Vernier, Geneva, 1211, Switzerland
Telephone: (022) 796 6123.

Live Music in Geneva

Au Chat Noir

A respected live music outlet in Carouge specialising in soul singers, jazz musicians and much more besides, Au Chat Noir is a bar and cellar venue that draws an appreciative crowd to around three live shows a week. DJs, regular jam sessions and open mic comedy nights are also part of the mix.

Address:
Rue Vautier 13, Carouge, Geneva, 1227, Switzerland
Telephone: (022) 307 1040
Geneva Arena

Geneva’s big-name venue, conveniently located near the airport, is large enough to accommodate super-sized rock operas, international pop stars and commercial spectacles – think James Blunt, Riverdance and Cirque du Soleil. If you’re seriously interested in attending a high-profile concert while you’re in town it’s best to start planning early.

Address:
Route des Batailleux 3, Grand Saconnex, Geneva, 1218, Switzerland
Telephone: (022) 710 9090
L’Usine

A former gold refinery, it seems a rather pleasing twist that this listed building is now an alternative arts venue given over to bands unlikely to consider wealth their premier concern. With a number of different performance spaces, L’Usine is somewhere you might catch anything from experimental dance and arthouse cinema to electro, punk-rock and reggae music from local unsigned bands.

Address:
Place des Volontaires 4, Coulouvrenière, Geneva, 1204, Switzerland
Telephone: (022) 781 3490.

Theatre in Geneva

Comédie de Genève

Founded in 1913, La Comédie de Genève was the city's first theatre dedicated to dramatic art. Under the lead of Artistic Director Hervé Loichemol, its 450-seat main hall and two studio spaces serve up a classical and contemporary repertoire, which is not always light-hearted, despite its name. Shows staged are predominantly by Swiss-French playwrights, with occasional visits from high-profile European directors including Peter Brook and Romeo Castellucci. Its dramatic performances are complemented by lectures and workshops.

Address:
Boulevard des Philosophes 6, Geneva, Geneva, 1205, Switzerland
Telephone: (022) 320 5001.

Culture in Geneva

Grand Théâtre de Genève

The Grand Théâtre de Genève, designed in the style of the Second Empire, was directly inspired by the Paris Opera House. Today, the 1,500-seat theatre is a major player on the world operatic stage, presenting a season of productions as well as recitals by esteemed international guests. Dance fans should visit during Le Ballet du Grand Théâtre de Genève season; the group have been residents here since 1962 and perform a classic and contemporary ballet repertoire from September to June.

Address:
Boulevard du Théâtre 11, Geneva, 1211, Switzerland
Telephone: (022) 322 5050
Théâtre du Léman

The former casino in the Grand Hotel Kempinski, on Lake Geneva's upmarket right bank, is now a commercial theatre presenting a diverse programme of concerts, ballet, opera and comedy that spans the cultural divide from France's former first lady Carla Bruni to the Chippendales.

Address:
Quai du Mont-Blanc 19, Pâquis, Geneva, 1201, Switzerland
Telephone: (022) 908 9766
Victoria Hall

Built between 1891 and 1894 by the then British Consul in tribute to England’s Queen Victoria, Geneva’s Victoria Hall was designed by local architect John Camoletti in the French 'Beaux-Arts' style. Its elaborate interior, liberally covered in gold leaf, is worth a visit alone. Its programme of classical music concerts includes regular visits from the world-renowned Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, the Geneva Chamber Music Orchestra and various other local and international orchestras and performers. It also hosts occasional jazz and song concerts.

Address:
Rue du Général-Dufour 14, Geneva, 1204, Switzerland
Telephone: (022) 418 3513
Edited by Daniel Fahey
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