Alpabzug Season

It's that time of year again. You may have noticed a drop in temperature, especially at higher altitudes, and that means our cow friends will soon leave their mountain pastures while we humans dig around for our scarves and gloves.

Within the next few weeks, cows grazing in the Alps will make their descent to "warmer" temperatures. And it's not just any old descent -- the farmers and townspeople turn the whole thing into a celebration.

Typically, you'll find a procession of cows adorned with flower wreaths and the herders decked out in lederhosen. In the Alps where cows answer to French commands, this celebration is called la désalpe, and in the German-speaking Alp regions it's called Alpabzug or Alpabfahrt.

Saturday we stumbled upon what we thought was one in Urnäsch (Appenzellerland), which seemed pretty low-key. Perhaps what we witnessed was some sort of pre-event because this weekend is supposed to be the big Alpabfahrt and Farmers' Market in Urnäsch. Apparently, the main road will be closed down in both directions for this event.

As for our little taste of the Alpabzug, we were on our way to Schwägalp for a leisurely hike, but found the main road to be backed up with traffic. Once we arrived in Urnäsch, we saw the cows coming and pulled over to the side of the road to let them pass. Though we didn't see any flower wreaths or lederhosen, the cows paraded unusually large bells and the children donned traditional red and yellow garments of the region:

Here are a few links to similar events around Switzerland:

Tourism Site Event Search for "Alpabzug"

Tourism Site Event Search for "Alpabfahrt"


  1. Very funny soundtrack to a cow parade video :-D

  2. Oh no, I thought the cow thing was this coming Saturday in Urnaesch. Did I already miss it? Know where we can find a schedule of these things?

  3. Hey Chantal - I just looked at the Urnäsch Tourism site, and not to worry you didn't miss the BIG event.

    What we saw must have been some sort of pre-event. Maybe a dress rehearsal? :)

    Anyway, I will edit the post to include a link to the main event...

  4. Thanks for the info! Appreciate it!


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