What is the Fête des Vignerons?
The Fête des Vignerons is the crowning celebration of winegrowers before thousands of spectators assembled in the arena to pay homage to them.
Organized by the Confrérie des Vignerons, the Fête is only celebrated once a generation, in the small town of Vevey (VD, Switzerland).
A celebration unique in the world, a true celebration of memory and identity, it was placed on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage on December 1, 2016, and hence became the first living Swiss tradition to have the honour of UNESCO recognition.
Since the “dawn of time”, or more probably since the 17th century, the Confrérie des Vignerons has ended its general assembly with a parade. From the city mount, where the Saint Martin church looms above, its members, followed by the winegrowers and many curious spectators, proceed along the streets of Vevey to the lake where a frugal banquet awaited all. Music, song and dance punctuate this joyful procession that made a stop in the small squares and under the windows of notable citizens. In the course of the 17th and 18th centuries, the parade grows. Musicians participate, small figurines called “marmosets” are carried in procession. and young people play the roles of Bacchus, god of wine, and Ceres, goddess of grain and harvest.
Already, all the region is abuzz, it becomes a must to attend this joyful “pourmenade”. Given the constant increase of its cost, it already begins to take place only every three, then six years.
The parade of 1791 is the last veritable procession before the advent of the Fête des Vignerons.
The Vevey Market Square
Vevey has a unique and majestic space: its market square, where the Fête des Vignerons has been held since its first edition in 1797.
The square, largely open, has a gentle slope that descends to the lake and the mountains beyond. It hosts bi-weekly markets but also the centuries-old fair of Saint Martin, traveling circuses, and, once in a generation, the Fête des Vignerons.
The challenge for the organizers of the Fête des Vignerons is to ensure both the expression of the aesthetic will of directors and the technical realization of a temporary stage space, which must accommodate many thousands of performers. The Fête des Vignerons is an open-air spectacle. The arenas are built for a month of performances. The arena for 2019 is expected to host up to 20,000 spectators, all gathered to be part of the celebration en masse.
What is the purpose of the Confrérie des Vignerons?
The purpose of the Confrérie des Vignerons is to visit the wineries on behalf of landowners, to monitor and judge the work of winegrowers, the vignerons-tâcherons, whose task is to maintain the vineyards entrusted to them.
The domain of the Confrérie des Vignerons’ visit extends from the gates of Lausanne to those of Valais, thus the vineyards of Lavaux and Chablais Vaudois.