Culture in Bern
Culture meets the culinary arts in this neoclassical sandstone building on Casinoplatz square: every Thursday, guests have the opportunity to enjoy the music of jazz musicians and then head outside to end the evening with a drink on the beautiful terrace. The heart of the building is the impressive Grosser Saal (Great Hall): here and in the slightly smaller Burgerratssaal is where musical worlds meet, for example during the GluGlu Jubilee parties which now take place at Casino Bern. In addition to music, cabaret, satire, and vaudeville are also very welcome. By the way: the onstage variety is mirrored on the plates at the restaurant.
To Casino Bern
This venue on the Aare river hosts contemporary performances, dance recitals and avant-garde pop concerts. In the 1980s, the former hydroelectric power station started establishing itself as a culture and performance centre. Today, Dampfzentrale is a meeting place for creative minds and their audience with room for experiments, debates, and discoveries. Every November, the music festival “Saint Ghetto” takes place here, bringing international stars and newcomers to Bern. And your physical wellbeing is taken care of, too: the Dampfzentrale’s elegant restaurant serves delicious treats.
The stages of Stadttheater Bern (Bern City Theatre) and Vidmarhallen offer everything the hearts of music, dance, and theatre fans desire: there are countless performances, concerts, and special events each season. The Casino Bern, where the Bernese Symphonic Orchestra plays its way through musical history, is also part of Bühnen Bern. The four-part house – consisting of Stadttheater, Casino and Vidmarhallen, which are located in an old factory in the Liebefeld neighbourhood – is the largest concert theatre of Switzerland’s Central Plateau and inspires visitors from near and far. The same goes for the restaurant “Vierte Wand”, which sits on the stage of the original Stadttheater from 1903 and attracts gourmets and culture aficionados alike.
To the Bühnen Bern
It is Bern’s oldest music club: For over 50 years, concerts and dance events have been held at Mahogany Hall on Klösterlistutz (Convent Hill). The club in the listed building was opened in 1968 by the Longstreet Jazz Band and has organized some 5,000 concerts to date. Performers include musicians such as Mark Sway, Ira May or The Pedestrians. Mahogany Hall’s recipe for success: people of all ages feel comfortable and welcome. And there’s something for every taste in the diverse concert programme that ranges from jazz to Swiss pop all the way to hard rock. Insider’s tip: watch out for the open mic evenings where, every second Wednesday of the month, unknown artists are given a platform.
To Mahogany Hall
Kulturhof Schloss Köniz
Above the rooftops of Köniz, a suburb of Bern, sits a castle. In the Middle Ages, it was home to the Teutonic Order and Bernese “Landvogt” bailiffs, and to different institutions and children’s homes in the 19th and 20th centuries. Nowadays, it’s a venue for all kinds of cultural events. Amenities include a room for civil wedding ceremonies, a restaurant, and the stages that are used and rented out by the association Kulturhof Schloss Köniz. The versatile rooms and the small courtyard are used for plays, concerts, book readings, exhibitions, and culture festivals. The large courtyard is dedicated to culture, too: in the summertime, there are concerts underneath the mighty linden tree.
To the Kulturhof Schloss Köniz
Concerts, movie screenings, plays, festivals, and all sorts of events: at the Reitschule, creativity knows no boundaries. What this cultural centre has to offer is as diverse as its artists and audience. Nationally and internationally renowned musicians play in the Dachstock, there are parties in the Great Hall, the Tojo shows contemporary plays and at Sous le Pont, there’s tasty food from all over the world – and delicious “Schnipo”, schnitzel and fries – as well as cultural performances. The programme changes according to season and what the organizers feel like doing. If you like things to be a bit different, you should check it out!
To the Kulturzentrum Reitschule
Theater am Käfigturm
Multifaceted entertainment in the heart of Bern’s Old City: that’s what the Theater am Käfigturm offers. As its name suggests, it is located near one of Bern’s landmarks – the Käfigturm (Prison Tower). Before becoming a theatre in 1967, the building served as a studio stage for the Stadttheater, but now it is open exclusively to guest companies and artists and is a popular anchor point in Bern’s theatre agenda. The programme includes theatre and magic as well as children’s theatre and dance performances. And if you’re a fan of comedy, you can go and see the latest shows of Swiss comedians such as Stefan Büsser and Helga Schneider.
To the Theater im Käfigturm
Like most medieval towers, the Käfigturm (Prison Tower) had many different functions over time. It was erected in the mid-13th century as part of the outer city wall and later served – as the name suggests – as a prison. Since 1999, the listed building has been housing the Polit-Forum, which informs visitors about politics. In panel discussions and lectures, the concept of democracy is questioned and rethought, upcoming votes are discussed, and politicians take on the critical questions of the audience. A forum as diverse and multifaceted as Swiss politics.
To the Polit-Forum Käfigturm
The grand sandstone building next to Bern’s main station is home to the Berner Generationenhaus (Bern House of Generations). The name says it all: the Generationenhaus includes a retirement home, a day-care centre, a public playground, and the parent counselling centre of the canton of Bern. Since its opening in 2014, it has also established itself as a cultural events location with participative theatre and musical projects, exhibitions, and other events. And the in-house chapel is regularly used as a rehearsal location for the Bernese “GenerationenChor” (Generations Choir), whose 80 participants are between 20 and 80 years old.
To the Berner Generationenhaus
About 70 of PROGR’s rooms serve as studios for some 150 artists of all kinds. Initially, the building was meant to be temporary, but the PROGR (a former “Progymnasium”, high school) quickly made a name for itself in Bern’s cultural scene. The ground floor is open to the public and a popular meeting place for the locals, with its galleries and two café-bars Turnhalle (the former gym) and Lehrer:innenzimmer (the former teacher’s lounge). The Lehrer:innenzimmer is a cozy place for coffee, the Turnhalle regularly hosts concerts and parties: the place that used to serve as a gym for schoolchildren has turned into one of the hot spots of Bernese cultural and nightlife.
Be it pop concerts, classical performances, or chanson and a cappella evenings: Bern is a city of music, and the intimate, familiar venue in a former chapel in Bern’s Breitenrain neighbourhood proves it. The audience comes to La Cappella to have a good laugh, too, as it is one of the best places in Bern for revues and poetry slams. After its inauguration in 1998, Bernese troubadours Irmgard Knef and Franz Hohler were among the first to perform on its stage. Uta Köbernick, Christoph Simon, Esther Hasler and Joachim Rittmeyer followed in their footsteps and fill the ranks today. Also a favourite: the iconic “Theatersport” evenings, which the audience can shape by shouting cues or voting on outcomes.
To La Capella
Which architectural style will define our cityscapes in the future? How integrated are immigrants in Bern? How much money is art allowed to cost? When the city discusses socio political and cultural questions, it often happens at Kornhausforum. The focal topic is the urban space – and Bern, of course. There are always different panel discussions going on at Kornhausforum, but it also hosts events like the Design Festival Bern. Furthermore, the forum is an important exhibition space for artistic, documentational and press photography. Today’s Kornhausforum was opened on two storeys in 1998 and is located right next to Kornhausbibliothek (Kornhaus library) and Kornhauscafé.
To the Kornhausforum
In 1890, Amelie Moser and the local Women’s Association initiated the purchase of what today is the Kreuz Hotel in Herzogenbuchsee. Her goal was to open a meeting place where the men wouldn’t spend all their money on booze. And thus, it became the first pub that did not serve alcohol. From then on, it functioned as an inn, housekeeping school, old people’s home and later also as a day-care centre for children – one of the first in Switzerland. Lina Bögli, who is considered Switzerland’s first female writer, also lived here and introduced people to foreign cultures. Even today, the “Kreuz Buchsi” is a lively house for all generations with a basement stage for comedians, musicians, writers and other artists.
To the Kreuz Herzogenbuchsee
Schlossgarten Riggisberg is a very special place: It gives people with physical or mental disabilities a home and the chance to live as self-determined a life as possible. The castle used to belong to statesmen for several centuries. Its beautiful surroundings and old architecture make for an all-round dreamy ambiance. To ensure the residents’ participation in public life, the Schlossgarten Riggisberg organizes cultural events and festivities such as festivals on the summer solstice, open-air cinema nights or brunches with relatives. And shared meals promote exchange and awareness between residents and interested parties.
To Schlossgarten Riggisberg
This art museum is located in the so-called “Choufhüsi” (little mall) right in the middle of Langenthal’s pedestrian zone. The building owes its name to its history, as it was used as a department store until 1894, and it was only in 1992 that the Kunstverein Oberaargau (Oberaargau art association) transformed it into a cultural institution. There are two floors that host several temporary exhibitions each year. They reflect themes and trends in contemporary art, with the focus lying on Swiss art. And references are made to Langenthal and international positions are included, depending on the topic.
To the Kunsthaus Langenthal
Bars that host cultural events
Musigbistrot Relaxed bistro and platform: many bands that now play the big stages had their Bernese premiere right here, when they were still unknown acts. ONO Be it music, literature, art or theatre: in the cozy basement bar with its impressive vaulted ceilings, all aspects of culture get their fair share. Wartsaal At Wartsaal (“waiting room”), no one is left to wait for the regional food, intimate concerts, book readings or a pub quiz – it’s all on the menu. Heitere Fahne At Heitere Fahne, integration is not only lived, but celebrated every day – with parties, cultural events and culinary delights for visitors of all ages.
Das Theater an der Effingerstrasse This theatre is an audience favourite and offers chamber dramas, stage monologues, literary adaptations – and a top-class ensemble. Theater Matte The productions that this Swiss German theatre by the Aare river puts on range from plays by Anton Chekhov to songs by Mani Matter, combining folklore with sophistication. Theater Remise The charming theatre in the small wooden house on Laupenstrasse street offers musicals, dance performances and plays. Theater Madame Bissegger The former travelling company now has a permanent stage, but is still just as wild and creative as it was twenty years ago. Schlachthaus Theater The Schlachthaus Theater, the heart of Bern’s independent theatre scene, inspires audiences with its unconventional programme, the international theatre festival “auawirleben”, and the performance festival “Bones”.
Bierhübeli The iconic venue with its gallery, bar and garden has been a musical home for international and Swiss bands for decades. Gaskessel With its concerts, parties, and movie screenings, Gaskessel has been the creative playground of youth culture since the early 70s. Dachstock Under the historic roof of Bern’s Reitschule (former stables), there’s a concert venue where local heroes share the stage with international gems. ISC The ISC Club has several storeys on which partygoers can dance at hip concerts, sip drinks, or challenge each other to foosball matches.
Not your usual movie theatre
Lichtspiel The Lichtspiel cinematheque makes movie history a sensory experience, with film screenings, workshops, and classes. Cinématte The movie theatre on the banks of the Aare river shows movie classics, rare gems and regional productions and has a fantastic restaurant with a view of the locals’ favourite river. Kino Rex For once, an art-house movie theatre replaced a mainstream one: since its reopening in 2015, movie enthusiasts can enjoy themed movie screenings, author’s films, and art-house movies in the two auditoriums.