The practice of driving animals down the mountain, or transhumance, dates back to the Middle High Ages, and this tradition has been enthusiastically maintained in all Alpine regions of Austria. Every year, in late September or early October, the cattle that feed high up on the Alpine pastures during the summer are brought down to their barns down in the valley.
If there have been no accidents on the Alm during the summer, the cattle will be elaborately decorated with headgear adorned with Alpine flowers, ribbons, mirrors and bells and their return to the valleys is celebrated in front of tourists and enthusiastic onlookers, against an intoxicating atmosphere of live music and dance. The clanging of the cowbells is essential in order to ward off the evil demons on their way down into the valley.
In many towns and villages, there are also food stalls, alcoholic beverages on sale and stalls selling artisan goods and hand-made crafts.
Whilst the practice of transhumance is widely practised all over Austria, the various regions of Austria have slightly different ways of celebrating this ancient tradition. Browse through some of the dates for the upcoming year in different regions, and take a look at some of the traditions particular to each area.
Rettenbachalm/ Bad Ischl: 05.10.2019
Hütteneckalm/ Bad Goisern: 14.09.2019 - Cattle Procession and Sheep Inspection
Wolfgangsee: 05.10.2019 - 6.10.2019
In Styria, culinary delights are served on the Alpine pastures, against a musical backdrop whilst the cattle are brought down from the mountains. The adornment of the animals is called crowning ("Aufkränzen"). On the Walcheralm in the Dachstein the day before the cattle procession there is the "Schottenrühren", where sweet food is stirred in a pot before being dished out, and the ritual is accompanied by a display of live music.
Gaal/Bezirk Murtal: 07.09.2019
Hochegg/ Lachtal: 28.09.2019
Hochwechsel/ Joglland Waldheimat: 01.09.2019
Köflach und Maria Lankowitz: 14.09.2019, Lipizzaner Procession
Radmer/ Bezirk Leoben: 14.09.2019
Ramsau/ Dachstein: 20.09.2019
Schoppernau: 21.09.2019, "Schaufschod" (Shearing of the Sheep)
www.schwarzenberg.at (German, some information in English)
Bartholomäberg, St. Gallenkirch, Gargellen, Tschagguns, Silbertal
Full schedule at www.montafon.at
Riezlern/ Kleinwalsertal: 19.09.2019
In Tirol more than 2,100 Alpine pastures between Arlberg and Kaisergebirge, Karwendel and the Linz Dolomites house around 110,000 cows, more than 70,000 sheep, 5,500 goats and 2,000 horses. More than 40 larger and numerous smaller "Hoamafahrt" cattle drives take place in the autumn in Tirol, and in this area, the colourful traditional event dates back to as early as the 17th and 19th century. If, however, during the Alpine summer there has been any loss of cows through illness, avalanches or bad weather, they are brought back into the villages undecorated.
Auffach und Niederau/ Wildschönau: 21.09.2019
Brixen im Thale: 21.09.2019
Ferienregion Hohe Salve: 28.09.2019
Kirchberg in Tirol: 21. und 28.09.2019
Kössen/ Kaiserwinkl: 21.09.2019
Ebbs: 12.10.2019, Haflinger Hengstalmabtrieb
Thiersee: 21. & 28.09.2019
Pertisau/ Achensee: 20.09.2019
Pfunds/ Tiroler Oberland: 14.09.2019
Reith/ Alpbachtal: 21. & 28.09.2019
Söll/ Wilder Kaiser: 21.09.2019
Tarrenz: 08.09.2019, Schafschied
Finkenberg, Fügen, Gerlos, Zell am Ziller: from 07.09. until 06.10.2018
In the province of SalzburgerLand, the shepherds create elaborate headdresses for the cows, composed out of fir branches, Alpine flowers, feathers and ribbons. In the area of Fuchlsee, you can witness the farmer's wives making the "Almkranzlbinden" in preparation for the event. Throughout SalzburgerLand there are often religious symbols incorporated in the attire, such as a picture of St. Leonard, the patron saint of animals. The animals are adorned with either large or small cowbells, depending upon their ranking. The herdsmen and women dress up in traditional lederhosen and dirndls and follow the cows back down into the valley.
Gruberalm/ Fuschlsee: 14.09.2019
Krimml/ Nationalpark Hohe Tauern: 21.09.2019
Maishofen/ Pinzgau: 21.09.2019
Naturpark Riedingtal/ Lungau: 08.09.2019
Raurisertal/ Nationalpark Hohe Tauern: 08.09.2019
St. Martin & Lofer/ Salzburger Saalachtal: 07.09.2019
Thumersbach/ Zell am See: 07.09.2019
Zellersee/ Großglockner: 31.08.2019
Please note: the above list is only a sample of cattle processions and is not a complete list. Dates may change. Some information is only available in the German language.
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