In a press conference on Wednesday the committee of the Fête des Vignerons unveiled the designs for the main auditorium on the Place du Marché, which will seat 20,000 spectators, 4,000 more than in previous editions of the historic festival.
While accommodating a larger audience for the festival's centrepiece spectacle, the arena nevertheless aims to be an intimate space, with big screens helping to bring spectators closer to the action, organizers told the press.
The auditorium will be constructed over four months from the beginning of 2019, ready for a six-week rehearsal period in May, before the festival kicks off on July 20th, running to August 11th.
Vevey's huge market square will be transformed. Photo: Fête des Vignerons
Last held in 1999, the Fête des Vignerons has its origins in the 17th century when agricultural association the Brotherhood of Winegrowers held a yearly pageant in Vevey, which is located at the foot of one of Switzerland’s oldest wine-growing regions, the Lavaux.
This developed into the first proper festival in 1797, held on the Place du Marché, which aimed to celebrate winegrowing, encourage winegrowers to improve their techniques and reward the best vineyard workers in a coronation ceremony.
Due to political unrest in the canton of Vaud, it wasn’t until 22 years later that the next festival was held, starting a once-a-generation tradition that has held to this day.
In December last year its importance was recognized by Unesco when it was inscribed on its 'intangible heritage' list.
At the time Unesco said the festival was “part of Vevey's living traditions” and that it “reinforces community spirit, encourages artistic life and stimulates winegrowers' knowledge”.
Details of the 2019 edition’s centrepiece spectacle have not yet been revealed, but visitors should expect a theatrical celebration of the traditions of local wine growing through the ages.
Locals can even get the chance to take part, since the festival committee is looking for volunteers to act as extras in the spectacle, who can sign up here: fdv2019.ch/figurants