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Party over: Geneva ditches summer festival plans

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Party over: Geneva ditches summer festival plans
August 1st fireworks in Switzerland. Photo: Depositphotos
10:17 CET+01:00
Geneva is to go without its big summer party the Fêtes de Genève (Geneva Festival) and even the huge fireworks display over the lake is no sure thing.

The 2018 summer festival has been scrapped in favour of a program of “summer activities,” event organizers the Geneva Tourism & Conventions Foundation said in a press release on Wednesday.

Only the three-month presence of the Giant Ferris Wheel has been confirmed to date.

The decision by the private foundation not to hold the Fêtes was made jointly with cantonal authorities. It comes after the event ran up big losses in both 2017 and 2016. The 2017 edition left organizers in the red by 3.2 million francs while the 2016 event fared even worse, chalking up a debt of 6 million francs.

The 2017 fireworks display at the Fêtes de Genève.

In its press release, the tourism foundation said the fireworks display was “confirmed, in principle” with foundation director Yves Menoud explaining that the scale of the event depended on ongoing fund-raising efforts.

But Geneva tourism chief Pierre Maudet said on Wednesday that he couldn't offer a 100%-guarantee the fireworks display would take place, adding that the involvement of a main sponsor would be key in ensuring the success of the spectacle.

Maudet defended the decision to scrap the festival saying it was "the only possible option."

"One cannot ask a private foundation to commit itself financially beyond its means. My department will lend a hand in the search for sponsors for the fireworks," Maudet was reported as saying in Swiss daily the Tribune de Genève.

But the tourism chief ruled out the idea of the canton chiming in to make up the budget shortfall, arguing the voters were against the idea and that the event already received support through taxes.

"It's a tough blow. It's painful," Geneva fairground figure Willy Bourquin told the Tribune de Genève, saying organizers had not even contacted him about the cancellation of the event.

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