The curtain has fallen on the Fête des Vignerons 2019 and it will be up to the next generation of wine growers to keep the tradition alive.
For the past 222 years, this tradition has survived as it has been passed down from generation to generation. That's remarkable because during all these decades, the Fête des Vignerons was held only a dozen times.
In 2019, Vevey attracted more than one million visitors during the 25 days of the festival. That's a significant number for a town of 20'000 residents! Some 375'000 of visitors who ventured to Vevey attended one of the twenty performances in the stadium. And it is good to know that 70 percent arrived by public transport.
Here are some more impressive numbers and statistics about the world's largest winegrowers festival in Vevey, Switzerland.
The sheer scale of the Fête des Vignerons stadium
The first Fête des Vignerons in 1797 used wooden platforms with a capacity of less than 2000 seats. This year's open sky arena has a capacity of 20'000 seats and towers 30 meters high.
Construction of the temporary arena started in late 2018 and took until June 2019 to complete. Within two months of the festival, the stadium will be entirely dismantled and Vevey will once again have its lakefront market square.
(Photograph by Christian Langenegger)
The technical equipment
The stadium was equipped with no less than 400 loudspeakers and 200 spotlights. In order for every spectator to see the intricate details of the costumes, even from the top row, the stadium featured four giant screens of 50 sq m each.
Those who saw the "Spectacle" performance with their own eyes will surely remember the interactive floor with its changing colors and images. In fact, the Fête des Vignerons featured the world's largest LED floor with a size of 870 sq m! For all this magic to run smoothly, each performance required about 200 technicians behind the scenes.
The actors, musicians and performers
While all this technology was a feast for our senses, the show came alive through its volunteer actors. Some 5000 performers, including 1200 singers and musicians, were directed by Lugano born Daniele Finzi. (Read more about his other projects in our previous post.)
Rehearsals for the month-long festival took six weeks - truly an incredible dedication on the part of the many volunteers.
(Photograph by Christian Langenegger)
The "Spectacle" performance
The story follows the poetic world of the Lavaux winegrowers through the eyes of a little girl, Julie. Here is an example of how vivid and overwhelmingly beautiful this show was. As spring unfolds, life – and vines – leave no rest to the winegrowers. In an explosion of rhythm and colors, two choreographies have women dance their joy and their sensuality with a thrilling cancan.
How about these fashionable alphorn players on the giant LED floor?
Here is a clip to show you the sheer magnitude of the "Spectacle" performance:
About the Lavaux vineyards
Lavaux is a wine region renowned for its terraced grounds where "three suns" help with growing the vines: the sun, the reflection of the sun by the lake, and the stones holding up the terraces. It is likely that grapevines were grown in the area as early as in Roman times.
But the present terraces were built back in the 11th century when Benedictine and Cistercian monasteries controlled the area. Traditions are strong, and some descendants of the first winemakers still work in the vineyards of Lavaux!
(All photographs copyright Dominik Gehl unless otherwise specified.)
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