Thursday, October 3, 2013

Fall Festival in the Alps: Party Til The Cows Come Home

Have you ever seen the photographs of cows decorated with flowers?  I have, and did some research on it. The farmers take their cows to the upper valleys in the alps for the summer.  Then in the fall there is a festival to celebrate bringing the cows down from the alps back to their meadows in the valley.  The festival is called "Almabtrieb" in Austria and "Viehscheid" in Bavaria.   It does happen to be in September and October, but is different from Octoberfest.  There are over 190,000 cows taken to the upper meadows.  The festival we attended had 500 cows come down.

When I was planning a trip to Germany and Austria, I decided that I would try to find one.  Indeed I did!  The cows were wearing head-dresses of beautiful boughs decorated with flowers.   What an experience.

Waiting for the parade to start, the cows headed for the first available grass.  Look at all the beautiful wildflowers!

The children headed up to the fields last - so I caught a glimpse of some of them that were in the parade.
I'm not sure what the signs mean--but I think it has the farm name, and possibly milk production?

When the cows came down the road, everyone had to get out of the way!

 They carried sticks--to keep the cows in line.
As you can see, they tended to wander off.

Each family leads their own herd.
Aren't the kids wonderful in their lederhosen and dirndls!

I was delighted to see some goats and sheep.

This cow needed some extra coaxing.

However, you can see that cows are herd animals and seemed to do a great job just following the one in front.

Well, some liked to travel in packs.

Notice the lift runs year-round (above background).  These people take hiking very seriously.

 These were a little smaller, and had smaller head-dresses.
 Everyone knew each other, and clearly had a great time.
 I was on the other side of the railing, with a zoom lens.  Check out those eyelashes!

Now that's a big bell!

Of course there are beautifully embroidered bell collars too.

These guys had little bells.

These two had such huge bells they could barely move their neck!
Of course there was music.  The street was lined with people, restaurants spilling out onto the street, and in the town square, picnic tables were set up.

Yea we had the slappy dance later in the day.  Lots of accordian music.  There were booths with all kinds of  food, beer, vendors with crafts.  Be sure to stop and get your lederhosen and dirndls on the way to the festival.  Face it, you'll have a perfect costume back in the states.

When it was all over, we headed down the hill with the cows.

They were happy to get to the lower pastures where they could graze.

 We said good-bye to this beautiful countryside.  I still can't get over the beautiful flowers on the balconies.
The countryside is so beautiful!    I am so happy that I went to the festival.  If you ever come to Munich for Octoberfest, be sure to add an Almatreib festival to your trip.

I used this link to find one in the area I was traveling in.

Be sure to Google "Cattle Drive in the Alps" and you will get lots of them.  It is "Almabtrieb" in Austria and "Viehscheid" in Bavaria. I did not look to see what it is in Switzerland.

Below is a video on preparation for a drive from

Of course I also have one to share--so you can see how noisy all those bells are!


  1. Wow! this is great! I have never seen anything like it. I would think the headdress would bother the cows! Ps, your video doesn't seem to work. Thanks for sharing!

    1. It was truly a wonderful experience. The video seems to work on my laptop, but not the ipad , I don't know why. Thanks!

  2. Hi Simone, just stopping by to say how delightful your blog is. Thanks so much for sharing. I have recently found your blog and am now following you, and will visit often. Please stop by my blog and perhaps you would like to follow me also. Have a wonderful day. Hugs, Chris