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.