The ‘Fête des Vignerons’ – a unique winemakers’ festival that takes place every 20 years in the Swiss town of Vevey – is slowly gearing up for its 2019 edition. On Wednesday, the organisers presented their plans for a 20,000-seat stadium to be built in the centre of the Lake Geneva town.
“The dream is slowly taking shape,” Francois Margot, president of the Vevey Brotherhood of Winemakers, told reporters in the western Swiss town, located near the Lavaux wine region.
The organisers of the traditional winemakers’ festivalexternal link, which began in its current form in 1797, presented their plans for the 2019 edition, which include a 20,000-seat open air stadium to be built on the main market square with views of the lake and Alps.
The elliptical-shaped stadium will feature a rectangular central stage – the size of an Olympic-size swimming pool – and four smaller raised stages.
“We come from the world of the circus,” said Daniele Finzi Pasca, the artistic director. “We are used to building huge circus tents and then dismantling them. It’s the same logic and magic.”¨
The colourful pageant, which will take place from July 20 to August 11, 2019, will be longer than in the past, with at least 18 daytime and evening shows. It will feature thousands of actors, 1,000 singers and other extras – many local residents. In 1999, 5,000 people took part.
Around 25,000 people a day are expected to attend the show or soak up the atmosphere during the festival.
“In 1999 the tickets sold out very quickly so we wanted to build a much bigger arena,” Pasca explained. “It’s a slight contradiction as we are making it bigger but also looking for greater proximity to the audience.”
The “Fêtes des Vignerons” began as a procession in the town to celebrate the work of local vineyard labourers. Over the centuries, it has grown from 2,000 spectators in 1797 to 16,000 in 1999. Last year, the festival was added to UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
But its objective has remained the same over the years, said Margot.
“It is a symbolic celebration of the winemakers’ work. These are the local people who work for a vineyard owner and tend the soil. But beyond Vevey, we are celebrating the work of winemakers around the world,” he told swissinfo.ch.
Artistic teams started working together from last autumn, explained Margot. For now, however, the details of the two-hour show, such as the scenario, text and music remain a closely guarded secret.