During 12 days in August, Winterthur becomes a music capital thanks to the Musikfestwochen (Music Festival Weeks). The program includes nine free admission days, which is quite unique in Switzerland, and brings some financial challenges. Nevertheless, the non-profit festival invests not only in quality bands, they also take responsibility for their ecological footprint.

Myblueplanet has drawn up a three-year plan (2019 – 2021) to professionalize the program, a portion in a controlling function, with the aim of reducing the festival’s carbon footprint.  Here you can read about where the Musikfestwochen stands, including areas that could be improved.

Would you like to learn more about the climate program?  On August 14, 2019, myblueplanet is organizing a Klima-menu (climate-friendly menu) in the parish garden together with Swiss Re and the Winterthur Musikfestwochen organizers.  Reserve a table for yourself and your friends now!

Interim Conclusion myblueplanet

From this year onwards, the Musikfestwochen will run exclusively on solar power – using one of the best available renewable energy sources. Bravo! 

Obtaining sustainable, efficient power sources will remain a challenge due to above average rising prices in the live music industry.

Energy consumption and emissions

The Musikfestwochen’s energy consumption totals 42,907 kWh

Renewable energy amounts to 643 kg CO2, which ranks half as polluting as the Swiss consumer mix.  We even achieved a 7-fold improvement in terms of carbon footprint contrasted with the Swiss consumer mix.  Pertaining CO2 totals, the worst performing European energy mix (lots of coal, oil and gas) is currently not fully available in Switzerland.  Due to our trade with Europe, only a portion of the European energy blend is ​​included in the Swiss consumer mix.

Environmental pollution in kg CO2 (Global Warming Potential).

Swiss CH Production mix 42’907 kWh x 0.027 kg CO2 pro kWh = 1’158 kg CO2
Swiss CH Green Power (renewable energies) 42’907 kWh x 0.015 kg CO2 pro kWh = 643 kg CO2
Swiss CH Consumer mix 42’907 kWh x 0.102 kg CO2 pro kWh = 4’376 kg CO2
European Energy mix  (ENTSO-E-Mix) 42’907 kWh x 0.524 kg CO2 pro kWh = 22’483 kg CO2


Information on the Musikfestwochen

The Musikfestwochen switched to solar power in 2019 by way of the Stadtwerk Winterthur. According to reports by Radio Top, the festival is the first one of its size in Switzerland (over 50,000 visitors) that is solar powered. The electricity consumption per festival is currently around 43,000 kWh.  Making the switch in the previous year failed due to funding. Securing funds in the future will remain a challenge, since costs in the live music industry have exploded in recent years – especially in the fee and production area.

Interim Conclusion by myblueplanet

The selection of vegetarian and seasonal menus from local culinary outlets is a step in the right direction. We also welcome are the awareness-raising endeavors provided by backstage and service personnel.  Expanding the seasonal and vegetarian food offerings would further lower the environmental impact.

We are also pleased with the Musikfestwochen’s collaboration with local beverage manufacturers and their use of bulk containers.

Information on the Musikfestwochen

The Externally operated stands
The selection of foods at the Musikfestwochen is manageable. In addition to the festival’s own offer and the resident restaurateurs, smaller kitchen outlets take part in the festival in the church square. The vegetarian offerings at the festival increased significantly in 2017 with the introduction of gourmet foods.

When allocating a food stand, it is mandatory a vegetarian option be given, and only meats of Swiss origin may be served. Vegetarian, organic and seasonal concepts from regional restaurant owners are given priority.  The resident restaurants in Steinberggasse can freely choose their food offer, the festival has no influence here.

The Kitchen’s Own Offerings
In the large food tent on Steinberggasse, which is operated by the festival, the meat comes exclusively from the region. The proceeds from the food sales remain an important source of income for the festival, which is financed to a third by catering revenue. According to the Musikfestwochen, around 3/4 of the meals sold are meat-based. The situation is similar regarding the kitchen staff and backstage area. There is always a vegetarian option, but vegetarian dishes are the exception. Switching to more vegetarian dishes is a question of raising awareness and acceptance – and remains a challenge. According to their own testimony, discussions pertaining food choices and menus are somewhat fraught.  For the 2019 edition of the festival appropriate measures have been worked out with the kitchen staff and backstage team.

The Musikfestwochen trys to obtain beverages as locally sourced as possible. The beer brewer is from Winterthur, and almost all drinks are brewed or produced in Switzerland.  Suppliers originate almost exclusively from the region. Canned drinks have been removed from the festival grounds. According to the festival, increasing the number of small, regional and organic suppliers remains logistically (e.g. container size) and financially challenging.

Interim Conclusion myblueplanet

By switching to a reusable food system and implementing many smaller measures in front of and behind the scenes, the waste statistics have been greatly improved. When it comes to food waste, the Musikfestwochen has found a promising solution with various sustainable concepts (as with the RestEssBar). In addition, aluminum cans are no longer offered.

Refuse 2018

Brennbare Abfälle: KVA14’190 kg  Abfall pro kg ca. 0.5kg CO2 = 7000 kg CO2
Alu-Dosen: 56 kg Alublech pro kg 5.62 kg CO2 = 314 kg CO2
Mischglas: 1’480 kg Glas pro kg 1.17 kg CO2 = 1’732 kg CO2
Karton: 226 kg Karton pro kg 1.69 kg CO2 = 382 kg CO2
Zeitungen/Zeitschriften: 778 kg pro kg 2.1 kg CO2 = 1’712 kg CO2
Bioabfälle mit Glas und Erde: 208 kg Schätzung pro kg 1 kg CO2 = 208 kg CO2
Holz III: 228 kg Meist Holzwerstoffe pro kg ca. 0.6 kg CO2 = 136 kg CO2
Swico-Material: 17 kg Mischung Metall/Kunststof pro kg 15.02 kg CO2 = 256 kg CO2

Für die CO2-Ermittlung wurden Durchschnittwerte zur Neuproduktion  der Stoffe eingesetzt, gemäss den Ökobilanz-Standarddaten des Bundes, KBOB/eco-bau/IPB, Stand 2016.

The low values ​​of aluminum cans stand out in the statistics on waste pollution. Statistics do not include PET bottles, as they were not sold and only a few bottles were brought along. The use of reusable cups and serving from large return bottles have led to a positive result. With around 14,000 kg of actual waste, the share per person is very small considering the number of 55,000 visitors. Only 0.284 kg of waste is generated per person over 12 days. Halving the amount of waste again is an ambitious goal.

Information on the Musikfestwochen

Waste is a big issue at festivals. Since the Musikfestwochen does not have a camping site, it is generally easier to do well here. In addition, festival visitors got used to the fact that not everything has to be thrown away.

Reusable Food Service Ware
For a number of years, waste has been separated at the entrances to festival site.  It was the first festival to introduce reusable cups.  In 2018, the festival switched to reusable dishes – also for serving, which was well received by visitors. The downside: The logistics and coordination with the operators has become much more complex, with substantial increases in terms of storage space requirements and dishware expenses.  Waste is minimized step by step, not only in the foreground, but also behind the scenes. Some examples: In the kitchen area there is proper crockery during assembly and disassembly; for coffee breaks, reusable instead of cardboard cups are used, water dispensers are set up in the backstage area, and the number of flyers has been reduced.

Giveaways, Tarps and Decoration
In recent years the Musikfestwochen has almost entirely ceased distributing giveaway/promo items (mostly disposable types), therefore accepting any financial losses. Because the Musikfestwochen wants to distinguish itself from other festivals, new banners featuring a welcoming design are produced each year to match the respective artwork. After the festival there is a day set aside in which tarps and other decor materials can be retrieved – currently what is not picked up ends up in the waste bin. The festival has somewhat reduced the production of sheets/banners that are adapted to the artwork.  Increasingly, the use of sustainable and recyclable materials is being incorporated into the designs.

Food Waste
Because food can be ordered and recycled over a period of 12 days, there is little food waste. Also, some stand operators donate surplus foods every evening to kitchen staff. The excess food from the large tent is processed during breakdown of the festival grounds and taken to the RestEssBar. Any leftover bread is fed to sheep.

Interim Conclusion myblueplanet

The climate awareness efforts and interim results have been impressive! The training and further education of all managers and crew on the subject shows us the Musikfestwochen personnel are seriously behind the cause. Beginning this year, the focus will be in particular on raising guest awareness, which has not yet been specifically addressed. We look forward to the next implementation round!

Information on the Musikfestwochen

Thus far, the Musikfestwochen has provided a too offensive communications strategy regarding sustainability. This has been due to not wanting to misuse the topic as a marketing tool, and to not jump on the greenwashing bandwagon. In the context of professionalization and external controlling via a three-year plan, awareness should now be increased. On the one hand, ecological themes are taken up communicatively (website, social media, program newspaper, onsite) in order to win over visitors to the subject matter. On the other hand, specialist knowledge is acquired and refined, especially in our own ranks. While the board and festival office explicitly dealt with the topic as part of a mission statement (2018), two small workshops have been held already with the voluntary organizing committee (2018/2019); with the aim of assisting the more than 850 laborers by way of the organizing committee and awareness personnel. Ideas from the experience are continuously implemented according to festival management.

Interim Conclusion by myblueplanet

The switch to LED lighting is to be implemented systematically on as many area and stage lights as possible.  Pertaining technical equipment, new devices with lower energy consumption are preferable.  For new purchases we always recommend using the most sustainable option.  With audio and loudspeaker systems, there are limits to the reduction in performance, since sufficient volume is necessary for “enjoying the music”.

Information on the Musikfestwochen

The majority of the lighting has already been switched to LED, but the exact numbers are missing to carry out a ‘clean’ audit. Therefore, corresponding figures are requested in year two by myblueplanet. According to the responsible for festival infrastructure, it will be challenging in terms of technology for the Musikfestwochen to perform well and achieve the specified goals. The current assessment: the Musikfestwochen simply cannot afford it.

Interim Conclusion by myblueplanet

Visitor travel to an event site often leaves a significant impact on the environment.  As the Musikfestwochen is held in the city of Winterthur, featuring optimal public transport, mobility overall is very good. What needs improving is the resulting balance pertaining artists travelling long-distance to the site.  A first step would be a CO2 compensation program e.g. the myclimate organization. Furthermore, musicians from European countries should be encouraged to use climate-friendly transport methods.

Information on the Musikfestwochen

Visitor Arrival

According to the 2018 Musikfestwochen visitor survey (400 participants), 96% travel by foot, public transport or bicycle. Parking spaces for bikes around the festival site are well-marked, and the city’s public bike parking lots are also heavily used. Visitors are advised to use public transport via various communication channels.


The Musikfestwochen tries to keep transportation routes short; hence, items such as posters/ flyers, building materials and foods, are procured in and around Winterthur. Yet there are limits pertaining festival infrastructure and merchandise. The technology is brought to Winterthur from across half of Switzerland.  Banners are produced in Germany and merchandise is imported – due to offers and pricing, the festival confirms.

Festival Transport

Before, during and after the festival, the organizers are dependent on cars and vans. Thanks to a new collaboration, one van was replaced by an electric sprinter and several vehicles by hybrid cars. In order to do without cars from time to time, smaller transports with cargo bicycles have been utilized since 2017.


In recent years, to better promote the Swiss music scene, the festival allocated a minimum of 50% of the gigs to local bands – automatically lessening the carbon footprint. In addition, the Musikfestwochen makes sure to book bands that are touring with the international acts. In 2018, nine out of just over 70 bands (90 people in total) were flown in by plane. The flights have not yet been compensated for, but the issue is on the radar.

Many thanks to our partners that made ClimateEvent happen!

Winterthurer Musikfestwochen