Swiss winegrowers festival granted Unesco status

The Fête des Vignerons, a huge winegrowers’ festival that takes place every 20 years in Vevey, on the shore of Lake Geneva, has been inscribed on Unesco’s ‘intangible heritage’ list.

Swiss winegrowers festival granted Unesco status
Photo: Fête des Vignerons

The festival was granted its new status on Thursday at a Unesco meeting in Addis Ababa alongside 11 other cultural traditions from around the world, including a fishing festival in Nigeria, an equestrian tradition in Mexico, Romanian wall-hangings and puppet theatre in Slovakia.

Held only five times a century, the Fête des Vignerons brings together local winegrowers and residents of the town of Vevey to celebrate its wine heritage and pass on knowledge from one generation to the next.

The festival has its origins in the 17th century when a local winegrowers association organized a yearly pageant.

Since then it has grown into a large spectacle featuring parades, theatre, music and dance held around Vevey’s market square. The last one, in 1999, attracted 16,000 people to its main arena.

The next Fête des Vignerons takes place in 2019.

Photo: Fête des Vignerons

In a statement Unesco said the festival was “part of Vevey’s living traditions” and that it “reinforces community spirit, encourages artistic life and stimulates winegrowers’ knowledge”.

The Swiss federal culture office said Unesco cited the festival’s links with the nearby Lavaux vineyards, a Unesco World Heritage site since 2007.

Switzerland presented the festival to Unesco as a candidate for ‘intangible heritage’ status in March 2015, the first item on a list of eight Swiss traditions the country wishes to see inscribed.

The others include yodelling, watchmaking, Basel’s Fasnacht festival, Easter processions in Mendrisio, alpine livestock traditions and the Helvetica font.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Mendrisio’s Easter processions bid for Unesco ‘intangible heritage’ status

The Easter processions in Mendrisio have been officially submitted by Switzerland to Unesco for consideration for its ‘intangible heritage’ list.

Mendrisio’s Easter processions bid for Unesco ‘intangible heritage’ status
Photo: Remy Steinegger/Ticino Tourism
The candidacy was officially lodged on Tuesday, though Unesco’s decision on whether to approve it won’t be taken until November 2019, the Swiss government said in a statement
Mendrisio’s Easter processions, taking place on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, date back around 500 years and now attract thousands of spectators. 
Thursday’s procession involves some 270 people and 50 horses in a portrayal of the Passion of Christ, while Good Friday’s procession depicts the burial of Christ. 
During the processions the street lights are turned off, with the only light coming from traditional painted transparencies, some hundreds of years old, which are lit from behind and decorate the streets. 
These transparencies were created using a technique specific to the 18th century, the preservation of which was a major factor in Switzerland’s bid for the event’s inclusion on the Unesco intangible heritage list, said the government.
The transparencies are hundreds of years old. Photo: Remy Steinegger/Ticino Tourism
Unesco’s intangible heritage list aims to raise awareness of the importance of living traditions and cultural festivities around the world. 
Mendrisio’s Easter event is the fourth Swiss living tradition submitted by Switzerland to Unesco from a list of eight drawn up in 2014
Unesco has already accepted two of Switzerland’s submissions – the Fête des Vignerons (winegrowers’ festival) in Vevey and Basel’s Fasnacht carnival – and will make a decision on the third, Switzerland’s avalanche risk management, this November.
Switzerland intends to submit four more items in the coming years: the alpine livestock season, yodelling, Swiss watchmaking and Swiss graphic and typographic design (including the Helvetica font).