Gaurav was surprised to see another side of the city of Neuchâtel during three days of the year.
I thought Neuchâtel, the city I live in was very boring and dead in the evening. That was until I witnessed a carnival-like celebration called “Fête des Vendanges”. It is a harvest festival that occurs in the last weekend of September. It is one of the important festivals in the region because Neuchâtel is a major wine-producing region of Switzerland and the Fête celebrates the wine grape harvest. Other wine producing regions of Switzerland also have similar celebrations.
The festival lasts for three days during which the city centre remains closed to all traffic. The city, which has a population of around 34,000 receives almost 100,000 visitors during the festival. For three nights, the heart of the city is filled with music and food stalls. On the second night, there is a magnificent display of fireworks by the Lake of Neuchâtel.
On the last day of the festival, i.e. on Sunday afternoon, there is a parade showcasing a mix of traditional and modern Neuchâtel. It reminds me of the Dussehra festival in India.
It is not just a time to party. The festival provides an opportunity to make some money for those interested. Many stall holders could use an extra pair of hands. Last year, a friend of mine made enough money in three days to pay his bills for that month. But, again it is not easy to get hired as an outsider as most prefer to employ an acquaintance or someone who has been recommended by a friend.
One thing that I did not like about the festival is the behaviour of many young people. Since the festival is associated with wine, they drink a lot and after that they behave in a bad manner. They fight, verbally abuse people and use the city as a big toilet, urinating anywhere they like. It makes the city dirty and for some people not a pleasing experience.
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