The Vevey Winegrowers' Festival 2019
5,500 actors and extras, 20,000 spectators, an open-air arena of 14,000 m2, 21 performances. All this in an event that features on UNESCO's list of Intangible Cultural Heritage and which takes place only once in a generation: welcome to the Fête des Vignerons, a festival that pays tribute to winemaking traditions. It will take place in Vevey, in the heart of the Lavaux vineyards, from 18 July to 11 August 2019.
Held once in every generation since 1797, the Vevey Winegrowers' Festival celebrates the way of life and culture of the region, with a contemporary artistic team interpreting the centuries-old tradition. Listed as UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage since 1 December 2016, the festival pays homage to the memory and know-how of the winemakers of the UNESCO-listed Lavaux vineyards and the Chablais region of the canton of Vaud. It is organised by the Brotherhood of Winegrowers, which awards prizes to the best winegrowers in a special crowning ceremony.
The pageant of the 2019 edition of the Winegrowers Festival is directed by Daniele Finzi Pasca from the canton of Ticino. It recounts the cycle of the winegrowing seasons through 20 tableaux and dialogues between a little girl named Julie and her grandfather. Highlights including the Wedding, the Saint-Martin, the Ranz des Vaches and the One Hundred Swiss punctuate the story, interwoven with spectacular creative ideas. Some 5,500 extras appear in the festival – including a choir of almost 1,000 – performing day and night before the 20,000 spectators in the arena, in a display that combines poetry with sophisticated technology.
The arena for the Vevey Winegrowers' Festival 2019 is the largest ever constructed in a town centre, with 20,000 seats and five stages. It was designed by Jean Rabasse, known for his work on the film La Cité des enfants perdus, for which he won a César in 1996. Situated in the Place du Marché in Vevey, the arena takes up 14,000 m2 of the total surface area of 17,500 m2. The main stage corresponds to the dimensions of an Olympic-sized swimming pool, with four additional raised stages each measuring almost 300 m2. A major innovation is an LED screen built into the floor of the main stage, which will allow for spectacular visual effects.
The artistic team
The pageant of the 2019 edition of the Winegrowers Festival was created by Daniele Finzi Pasca, actor and stage director from the Canton of Ticino. Born in 1964 in Lugano, he has worked in intimate theatre as well as on monumental shows such as the closing ceremonies of the Winter Olympics in Turin in 2006 and Sochi in 2014. He has worked for Cirque du Soleil, Cirque Eloize and renowned opera houses. The music for the festival was composed by Maria Bonzanigo, Jérôme Berney and Valentin Villard. The costumes were designed by Giovanna Buzzi. The texts of the poems, sung by the festival choir, were written by Stéphane Blok and Blaise Hofmann. The choreography is by dancer and choreographer Bryn Walters, and set design is by Hugo Gargiulo. Sound is by Martin Reich, lighting by Alexis Bowles and video by Roberto Vitalini.
Festival mood takes over Vevey
From 18 July to 11 August, the Winegrowers Festival will transform the whole of Vevey into a huge open-air celebration – La Ville en Fête. From morning to night, an area stretching from the Jardin Doret to Entre-deux-Villes will be devoted to conviviality, gourmet delights, and free cultural and festive activities. La Ville en Fête will feature performance spaces dotted around the town, with plenty going on – including traditional and contemporary music, street artists and DJs in the evening. Pop-up wine-tastings, restaurants and terraces will serve specialities from the region and elsewhere. Also on the menu will be the famous processions of the Brotherhood of Winegrowers, when the prize-winning winegrowers, the members of the Brotherhood and the extras from the pageant parade through the streets. The procession will take place on three separate occasions: on Thursday 18 July, Saturday 27 July and Saturday 3 August.
For the first time in the festival's history, 'cantonal days' will highlight specific Swiss cantons, with their culture, wine and traditions. In a way, this will transform the town of Vevey into the capital of Switzerland for the summer! Every day, popular, festive, cultural and wine-growing delegations of the cantons will be welcomed by the Brotherhood of Winegrowers, then will take over the La Ville en Fête celebrations in their own particular way, including a procession. In addition to the cantonal days, there will be two special guest days: one for the Swiss Abroad and one for Vevey-Riviera-Pays d'Enhaut. Swiss National Day takes place on 1 August and the Day of the Brotherhood of Winegrowers on 18 July – the day of the opening of the festival and the pageant, including the crowning ceremony.