The Guild of Champagne Winegrowers’ St Vincent Festival will take place in Rheims on Saturday 16 January 2016.
Under the honorary presidency of Irina Bokova, the Director-General of UNESCO and with the participation of Verzenay Guild as the banner carriers.
2015 has proved to be an exceptional year and the start of a new era for us with the Champagne Slopes, Houses and Cellars being included on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in the Living Cultural Landscapes Category. The Exceptional Universal Value of the Champagne vineyard cultural landscape, the birthplace of champagne wine, has now been recognized with this inscription.
Moreover, Rheims Cathedral is the perfect setting for the St Vincent Festival, as the cathedral also has UNESCO World Heritage status!
It is well known that St Vincent is the patron saint of winegrowers. St Vincent was persecuted under the Roman government and is thought to have died in January 304 AD. St Vincent began to be venerated in most of the wine-growing regions, including the Champagne Region, over the following centuries, to the point that a tradition of commemorating him every year developed.
In the 1930s, the Champagne Guilds came together in Epernay to form the St Vincent Guild of Champagne Winegrowers. However, the famous festival really experienced a revival and became well-known in the 1990s, having been given impetus by Brigitte Chandon Moët and Michel Janisson, the co-presidents.
The people of Rheims always judge each festival on its size and beauty.
The St Vincent Festival will be taking over the City of Kings on Saturday 16 January to the great satisfaction of the guild’s co-presidents, Evelyne Roques-Boizel and Maurice Vollereaux, who said, “We are very proud to parade the guild’s colours through the heart of Rheims. It is a great honour for the guild to celebrate the patron saint of the ‘King of Wines’ in the City of Kings!”
The council’s services will also be working to ensure that this prestigious event is a success. The general public is sure to turn out in force to watch this unique parade starting at 15:00 from Rheims City Hall. Close to 1,000 participants from 90 Champagne guilds and houses sporting their colours and clad in their traditional costumes will make their way to the mass celebrated by Monsignor Thierry Jordan, the Archbishop of Rheims, in Notre-Dame Cathedral in Rheims at 16:00.
The guild’s choir from the region will perform at the St Vincent Mass along with the Harmonie des Tonneliers wind orchestra.
The traditional St Vincent Festival ceremonies will then take place at 18:15 in the city hall’s reception rooms. Vincent Perrin, the director general of the Champagne Committee and other public figures will deliver speeches, guild medals will be awarded and the guild’s banner will be passed on.