Why you can’t miss the Fête des Vignerons in Vevey

Fête des Vignerons in Vevey (1999)(Photograph copyright Confrerie Fête des Vignerons)

Like clockwork, many events in Switzerland happen once per year.

From the Basel Carnival to the Locarno Film Festival, there are lots of festivals and events to be excited about.

But there are other events that do not happen quite so often, with one festival sticking out in particular: the Fête des Vignerons in Vevey happens only once in a generation, and 2019 it is! It is a traditional celebration for Swiss wine growers that has been happening about every 25 years since the 1797. (The huge financial investment prevents the festival from happening more frequently. Or is it the fact that the local Veveysans need that long to recover from the festival?)

Why the Fête des Vignerons in Vevey is considered a living tradition

The town of Vevey lies at the heart of the Swiss Riviera, amid the UNESCO World Heritage wine growing region of Lavaux. It is a pristine and sunny location at the banks of Lake Geneva, with snow-capped peaks in the background. It is said that the local grapevines enjoy the sun in three ways: directly, through its reflection in the lake, and through the stone terraces reflecting its heat.

Fête des Vignerons in Vevey (1905)(Photograph copyright Horvay Robert/NotreHistoire.ch)

The Fête des Vignerons will be a unique occasion to discover the delicious wines of the region — around half a million bottles will be opened throughout the event. But it is much more than just a wine tasting.

A huge arena in the center of Vevey will be host to parades and shows that celebrate the life of winemakers. Historically, the festival has been an occasion to reward all the workers responsible for tending to the vineyards. Given how infrequently the Fête des Vignerons takes place, no edition resembles a previous one and instead tries to reflect the era's zeitgeist.

Here is a photograph of a parade in 1955:

Fête des Vignerons in Vevey (1955)(Photograph copyright Horvay Robert/NotreHistoire.ch)

The last edition took place in 1999 - during the last millennium! And this year, it will be the 12th edition since inception in 1797.

Cantonal Days showcase regional diversity

Since 1865, each Swiss canton has been featured as part of the celebrations. Each of the special Cantonal Days features parades, tastings from local wines, and shows celebrating Switzerland's regional diversity. And you should certainly not miss the Confederation Day on August 1st, Switzerland's National Day.

Here is a line-up of Cantonal Days during the Fête des Vignerons 2019:

July 19: Geneva
July 20: Fribourg
July 21: St. Gallen
July 23: Graubünden/Grisons
July 25: Day of the Swiss Abroad
July 26: Valais
July 27: Ticino and Central Switzerland (Lucerne, Uri, Schwyz, Obwalden, Nidwalden, Zug)
July 28: Basel-Stadt, Basel-Landschaft, Glarus and Jura
July 30: Bern
August 1: Day of the Confederation
August 2: Schaffhausen
August 3: Solothurn
August 4: Zurich
August 5: Thurgau
August 6: Aargau
August 8: Vevey - Riviera - Pays d'Enhaut
August 9: Appenzell Ausserrhoden, Appenzell Innerrhoden
August 10: Neuchâtel
August 11: Vaud

Why you should not miss the Fête des Vignerons in 2019

Expect Vevey to turn into a "must see" hot spot this summer, with its streets filled with food stalls and shows. But the main attraction will be the central arena which requires admission tickets and can welcome over 20'000 people at a time. That show, involving over 5000 actors, will feature multiple orchestras, bands and dancers.

The climax of the event will be the crowning of winegrowers, because we should not forget this celebrates the hard work of Swiss winemakers. So, if you want to be one of the 400'000 lucky spectators this summer, have a look at the event calendar and do not miss this once-in-a-generation event...

More information

- July 18 through Aug 11, 2019
- Overview of free activities
- Purchase a ticket for the arena show
- How to travel to Vevey by train

(Poster copyright Fête des Vignerons)

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Jordan Girardin

Jordan grew up in the French region of Franche-Comté along the border with the Canton of Jura. He is passionate about train travel and tourism, and he looks at Switzerland as a humongous playground and a fascinating set of regions to (re)discover.
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