Lucerne Festival has been committed to social sustainability for more than 20 years — in particular, to supporting and promoting young talent. We have now set ourselves the goal of systematically integrating and institutionalizing ecological and economic sustainability in addition to social sustainability.

To that end, we created a sustainability position on the team in the fall of 2022 and developed a sustainability strategy for the period from 2023 to 2027. The strategy is oriented towards the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and is based on a materiality analysis to define the sustainability topics that are particularly relevant and controllable for Lucerne Festival; in the area of ecologic, it is also based on a comprehensive calculation of our CO2e footprint. Together with myclimate, we performed this calculation for the years 2021 and 2022.

Our sustainability report, which we publish annually, provides information about Lucerne Festival’ s goals, strategies, projects, and progress in the three dimensions of sustainability: social, ecological, and economic.


Erlebnistag 2018 © Priska Ketterer/Lucerne Festival
Erlebnistag 2018 © Priska Ketterer/Lucerne Festival

Lucerne Festival has been committed to social sustainability for many years and invests around 12% of its total artistic expenditure in this area every year. The Lucerne Festival Academy, which takes place in the summer, enables around 100 international young instrumentalists to focus on music of the 20th and 21st centuries over a three-week period and to acquire important experience in the Lucerne Festival Contemporary Orchestra (LFCO); a Composer Seminar for young composers and a Contemporary-Conducting Program for young conductors are also part of the program. Since 2013, the Roche Young Commissions have been awarded every two years to two young composers. Members of the Academy network also curate the Forward Festival for Contemporary Music in the fall.

Music for Future is the section in which we consolidate our projects relating to the next generation: the Debut concert series gives outstanding young artists a platform to introduce themselves to an international audience. We also award three important sponsorship prizes — the “UBS Young Artist Award,” the “Prix UBS Jeunes Solistes,” and the “Fritz Gerber Award” — and have been launching the Summer Festival with performances by international youth orchestras since 2021.

It is not only on the concert stage that we have the next generation in mind, but also in terms of the audience, for example through our special offers and event formats aimed at families, primary school classes, and students, through education projects, and through concerts given on site in the schools. All Music for Future events are offered at low ticket prices or are free of charge.

Through such additional free offers as the 40min series, the world music festival “In the Streets,” and Lakeside Symphony, we want to provide access to music for all groups of the population. Moreover, our Summer Festival has served for many years as an important platform for projects and orchestras that have a social commitment and background, such as the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, the Chineke! Orchestra, and Superar Suisse. In 2016, through our summer theme of “PrimaDonna,” for which we invited many female conductors, we had a significant effect on international discussion of the role of women on the concert podium; in 2017, in collaboration with the German organization Zuflucht Kultur e.V., we staged Mozart’s Idomeneo by presenting refugees from a wide range of nations; and in 2022, when we explored the theme of “Diversity,” we took a stand for more diversity in the classical music world.

We will continue to develop these commitments and expand our commitment to social sustainability step-by-step. For example, we are planning a new inclusion project for 2024.


Hecken für Neuntöter & Co © Hubert Schurmann
Hecken für Neuntöter & Co © Hubert Schurmann

Lucerne Festival has already taken measures in the past to reduce the Festival’s ecological footprint. For example, we produce all printed materials with Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified paper and have succeed in significantly reducing print runs through digital offerings; we have also been using banners and flags for several years whenever possible. We are additionally active in the areas of office administration, artists’ travel, and the mobility of Festival guests. For example, when engaging orchestras from overseas, we ensure that they do not travel specifically for their guest performance in Lucerne but instead take on other engagements in Europe, and we offer all concert visitors an SBB RailAway discount of 40% on their public transport tickets from anywhere in Switzerland.

As climate partner, Zurich Insurance supports Lucerne Festival in its ecological sustainability strategy. It helps to develop initiatives that contribute to reducing the Festival’s CO2 emissions and advises the Festival with its expertise in the area of sustainability and climate protection. Since 2021, Lucerne Festival has also been part of the “Swisstainable” sustainability program of Switzerland Tourism, and since 2022 it has been a member of the “Sustainability Working Group” of Swiss Top Events (STE).

In 2021 and 2022, we calculated Lucerne Festival's CO2e footprint working with the myclimate foundation as a basis for our ecological sustainability strategy in 2023-2027. Even though we are an international festival that presents the finest artists and orchestras from all over the world, we want to systematically expand our thoughtful approach to nature and the environment — through concrete actions and measures, through climate protection projects, and by raising awareness among artists and our concert guests.

For 2023, we have set ourselves the goal of not exceeding the previous year’s CO2e footprint of 1770t CO2e, although, with Piano Fest, an additional short festival is being added. In 2027, our ecological footprint should then be a maximum of 1550t CO2e. In addition, starting in 2024, we will invest an increasing percentage of the footprint annually in climate protection projects or in regional sustainability projects, which is monetarily equivalent.

Since 2023, Lucerne Festival has been a member of myclimate’s “Cause We Care” program. When buying a ticket, all Festival visitors can donate 2 Swiss Francs for environmental protection. In return, we double the amount and put it into an earmarked “Cause We Care” sustainability fund, which finances local or regional sustainability measures as well as the myclimate climate protection project "Beatenberg-Habkern Natural Forest Reserve in the Canton of Bern". In addition, from 2023 onwards, we will draw attention to the Park & Ride offers in Zug and Sempach in cooperation with the SBB, and we have defined a policy for mobility.

In keeping with the summer theme of “Paradise,” in 2023 we will also be supporting the “Hedges for Red-backed Shrike & Co.” project by BirdLife Luzern, including a sing-along campaign, and in collaboration with Stadtgrün Lucerne we will install a “Paradise Garden” with native plants in front of the KKL Lucerne during the Summer Festival, which will be reused after the festival.


KKL Luzern aussen © KKL
KKL Luzern aussen © KKL

As an international but regionally anchored music presenter, Lucerne Festival generates economic, tourist, and cultural added value for the entire Lucerne region year after year. We award contracts to service providers as regionally as possible in order to promote the Lucerne economic region, and we regularly collaborate with a wide variety of local venues and event presenters. According to a study conducted in 2017 by the University of St. Gallen (HSG), 22.6 million Swiss Francs flowed into the Lucerne region as regional value added by our Festival in 2015.

We will systematically pursue and institutionalize these efforts as part of our sustainability strategy.