Paléo Festival de Nyon, much more commonly known as Paléo, was one of the originators of the continental fest scene, and remains one of the standouts of the genre.
In fact, Paléo—held in the town of Nyon, in the Swiss canton of Vaud—puts to rest the notion that festivals on the European mainland are only a recent phenomenon. A Paleo festival has been held in Nyon since 1976, although the original incarnation was a much smaller 1,800-member audience folk music concert. Since then, Paléo has grown in drabs and drabs and, every now and then, huge spurts. By the ’90s, the affair was pulling in arena-packing headliner acts. What was once a little party near the shores of Lake Geneva has become one of Europe’s major annual open air events, attracting a crowd of over 230,000 attendees and musical lineups that run as deep as the Marianas Trench.
Paléo covers a pretty big festival grounds, with the acts divided into six different stages; Le Grande Stage is where you’ll see most of the big headliners. Because the festival practically covers a whole week, you’ll want to prepare a fair bit beforehand when it comes to selecting the days and acts you want to attend.
On that note, four-, five- and six- day passes are available and are a popular option—they grant you free access to Nyon’s open air swimming pool, and in a charmingly intellectual gesture, free entry to the town’s two museums and the Swiss National Museum in Zurich. Passes take the form of a bracelet, which you can apparently mechanically seal.
Besides a good glut of public art and the obvious musical element, one important element of Paléo is Le Village du Monde (The World Village) section, an area that is transformed into an invited region, city or country from around the world. Within the village is Le Dôme, which serves both as of Paléo’s six stages and a gallery for artists from the region in question.