Archives and History
Festival websites may be accessed via the links below:
The story of
the Festival de la Cité Foundation begins with a motion tabled in Lausanne by
the socialist municipal councillor Marx Lévy in 1966, which
proposed a study to look into the possibility of holding an annual public event
in the city of Lausanne.
Association pour la Fête à Lausanne was created on 21 March 1968,
with the first event taking place on 28 and 29 June 1968, its
primary aim to provide, free of charge, a wide range of shows. It was met with
great enthusiasm by the public. Supported on a voluntary basis by numerous
local artists, clubs and societies, in 1969 the Fête de
Lausanne extended the area it initially occupied in the Cité quarter by
embarking on a more ambitious cultural offering that incorporated the Place de
la Cathédrale and Place du Château.
three editions of the Festival were marked by numerous incidents involving
protests – some political in nature. These times of social unrest in Europe
prompted the organising committee – fearing confrontations – to cancel the 1971
event just two weeks before it was due to open.
The cause of
the trouble was a perceived lack of access to culture for the population at
large, particularly low earners, young people and workers. Some political
parties backed the movement, and 240 prominent personalities in Lausanne signed
a petition protesting against the lack of a cultural policy.
It was in
this context of protest mobilisation, coupled with the abandoning of the 1971
edition of the Fête à Lausanne, that the Association des Amis de la Cité, on
the initiative of actor and writer Gil Pidoux, proposed a more substantial
cultural event within the framework of the original event in the Cité
quarter: birth of the Festival de la Cité. The
municipality supported the projected. A new multidisciplinary event launched
in 1972 and took up residence in the heart of the
historical quarter of the city: lasting a week and with free admission, it
complemented the two-day Fête à Lausanne.
organisers of the Festival de la Cité separated from the Fête à Lausanne in 1983,
grew the event and incorporated it as an independent financial entity two years
later. In 2002 it morphed into a private foundation, which changed
its name to the Fondation Festival de la Cité and initiated a process of
figures have left their mark on the Festival, including Jean-Claude Rochat,
Géraldine Savary, Silvia Zamora, Olivier Pavillon and Jacques Bert, the
long-standing Director of the Festival who left office in 2002.
2007 edition, the Governing Board of the Festival de la Cité chaired by Georges
Caille decided to restructure its operations. It appointed Michael Kinzer as
Artistic and Administrative Director, who entered office in September
2008. The Festival de la Cité Lausanne began
offering six nights of unbounded cultural vibrancy in 2010 across
15 stages within the Cité quarter. The Festival celebrated its 40th edition in
2011. 2013 saw the addition of a curtain-raiser to the
Festival (Prélude en ville) comprising a series of offbeat and
offstage shows throughout the city during the week preceding the main event.
its stronghold in the historical quarter by construction work for the new
Canton Vaud parliament building, in 2014 the Festival resettled successfully in
the city in the wider sense.
on, the challenge had turned into an opportunity: that of reaching out to
residents in other neighbourhoods and motivating them to discover or
rediscover the city of Lausanne through the lens of an artistic,
convivial event featuring out-of-the-ordinary programming presented in
the historical quarter in 2017 after most of the building site had been cleared,
the Festival once again sought to strike that magical balance between art and
In 2018, the Festival moved into the Place du Tunnel, for the first time ever.
Audiences in 2017 were able to enjoy in excess of 80
artistic offerings (creations and situational installations, shows,
installations and concerts) and up to 153 performances at
19 different locations, some novel.