If you were following local news in the last couple weeks, you would have heard that tickets have gone on sale for the long anticipated Fête des Vignerons 2019.

A winemaker festival in stunning Lavaux sounds fabulous enough, but with prices starting around 200chf for some of the festivities, you may be wondering if the hype is really worth it. Also, when’s the last time you were expected to buy tickets for anything a year in advance?! It requires a level of planning that’s extreme, even for Switzerland.

What is it?

In short, the Fête des Vignerons is a live show and festival that takes place roughly every 20 years in Vevey to celebrate the achievement of our local winemakers from Lavaux and Chablais. So if you’re wondering why you’re only hearing about this now, don’t worry – the last event took place in 1999, which means that even for locals in their mid-thirties, memories may be fuzzy.

As a point of reference, that’s the same year that Britney Spears came onto the scene with “Hit Me Baby One More Time” and the same year that Euro currency was first introduced in the original 11 eurozone countries. Bref, it was a loooong time ago.

The show takes place in 23 different chapters across 23 days – in other words, no one day will be the same. All together the show expects to attract over 400,000 people and will feature over 5,000 local residents as actors. For Vevey, with its population of less than 20,000 people, this is massive.

La valse du Lauterbach, Fête des Vignerons 1999, photo Groupement des
photographes veveysans, © Confrérie des Vignerons

Logistical challenges aside, the Fête des Vignerons occupies a special place in the heart and soul of our local region. It may not yet mean much to many of us who have moved to the area in the last 20 years, but it’s the sort of event that we all will want to participate in. It’s a moment of cultural celebration – jubilee even – that commemorates centuries of partnership between locals and our land for the noble act of wine making. This is not just a winemaker festival as we referenced above; this is the winemaker festival.

Troupes des Cent-Suisses, Fête des Vignerons 1999, photo Groupement des
photographes veveysans, © Confrérie des Vignerons
Why is it a big deal?

Next year’s event will only be the 12th since it was first held in 1797. It’s hard not to get excited about something that you so rarely have the opportunity to do.

UNESCO also thinks the event is pretty special and in 2016 recognized it as an example of intangible cultural heritage.

Le Choeur Rouge en cortège, Fête des Vignerons 1999, photo Groupement des
photographes veveysans, © Confrérie des Vignerons
Where is it held?

If you’ve ever tried to find parking in Vevey on a sunny weekend in summer, you may be wondering where this small town plans to host all of these visitors and where there’s a theatre grand enough for such a spectacle.

They’re actually going to construct a temporary stadium that will hold 20,000 spectators on the Place du Marché. Check out this video mockup of the plans…

Impressive, huh?!

So, is it worth it?

Ultimately, this is a personal call, but given the sheer scale of the event and the stadium construction, we’re inclined to think that, yes, the ticket price is probably fair. It’s worth mentioning, however, that there’s been a hearty debate in the local media about whether or not this next event is losing touch with the population by becoming so grand and so expensive. To put it in context, the budget for next year’s edition will be twice that of 1999, coming in at a staggering 99 million francs.

Are we going?

Uhhh, yeah definitely. We haven’t bought tickets because the idea of forking up so much cash for something we can’t enjoy for another year requires a commitment and tolerance for delayed gratification that we haven’t made peace with yet. However, we love this region and the idea of celebrating it with 19,998 other people who love it too makes our hearts swell.

So get your tickets now. You won’t want to miss it!

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