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Cultural heritage Raise a glass to certified Swiss culture

The last Fête des Vignerons in 1999


A Swiss city’s renowned winemakers’ festival will be a certifiable – though intangible – cultural experience three years from now.

UNESCO said on Thursday it is adding the festival in Vevey, known locally as the Fête des Vigneronsexternal link, to its list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

The festival, which has been around since the 18th century and is held about every 20 years in the French-speaking city, becomes Switzerland’s first admission to the UN’s “intangible” cultural heritage sites. Swiss officials proposed the addition last year.

The Paris-based United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation announced 16 new additionsexternal link to the list that it keeps to protect what it describes as “forms of expression that testify to the diversity of intangible heritage and raises awareness of its importance.”

Intangible but respectful

The designation aims to raise awareness and protection for traditions or living expressions inherited from ancestors and passed on to descendants.

These include oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, rituals, festive events, nature-oriented practices and skills need to produce traditional crafts.

“An understanding of the intangible cultural heritage of different communities helps with intercultural dialogue, and encourages mutual respect for other ways of life,” UNESCOexternal link says on its website.

Raise your glasses to 2019

The next Fête des Vignerons is planned for the summer of 2019 in Vevey, a small city along the shores of Lake Geneva that is home to a new Charlie Chaplin museum and the global headquarters of the world’s biggest food and drink company, Nestlé.

The Lavaux vine terraces, which form the largest contiguous vineyard region in Switzerland, also are nearby. UNESCO has protected them since 2007.

Switzerland is home to 12 UNESCO World Heritage sitesexternal link – nine cultural and three natural – including the Lavaux vineyards, St. Gallen Abbey and Bern Old Town.

Globally, there are now 1,052 such sites in 165 countries. Some 77% of those are cultural; 19% are natural; the other 4% are a mixture. Fifty-five of the sites are endangered.

The Swiss cabinet also has proposed adding watchmakers, yodelers and avalanche experts to the “intangible” list.

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