If you ever travelled to Tyrol in Austria in summer, then you probably know that cows play a very important role in the region. The ringing of the bells and the moos of the cows in the distance – these are the scenes that any visitor to Tyrol is definitely familiar with. But have you ever heard of Almabtrieb?
What is Almabtrieb?
Almabtrieb (also called Transhumance) is a traditional festival with a cattle drive from alpine summer mountain pastures to the lower valleys in autumn. It’s traditionally celebrated in the Alpine regions in late September through early October. I have to admit that I hadn’t heard of this tradition before my visit to Tyrol last week, but now that I’ve seen it, I would love to go back and join this lively celebration again. It’s so much fun!
Almabtrieb is a very colourful event: the cattle (usually cows) are elaborately decorated with flowers, ribbons and other impressive ornaments. These colourful headdresses are called ‘Buschn‘ in German, and the lead cows have the most impressive headdresses. People try to look their best as well. Most locals wear traditional clothing – colourful dirndls for the women and lederhosen for the men. The whole village joins in this vibrant celebration that is usually accompanied by a traditional market, live music, handcrafts demonstration, and lots of local food specialties.
What to expect – my experience at the cattle drive and farmers’ market in Reith im Alpbachtal
I attended the cattle drive and parish festival in Reith im Alpbachtal – a picturesque little village in Tyrol. We were told that this event is one of the biggest in the area with thousands of visitors coming to Reith during the last two Saturdays of September every year (on the 23rd and 30th of September in 2017).
Festivities started early Saturday morning with the opening of the farmers’ market. The cattle drive was planned for in the afternoon, around 2PM, and by then the main street in the village was crowded with spectators excited to see this colourful parade.
I found the market and the celebrations just as fun to watch as the cattle drive itself. And since pictures say more than a thousand words – here is a selection of images to give you an idea of what to expect.
In Austria, the transhumance is celebrated in many different places across Tyrol and these festivities attract big numbers of local and foreign tourists each year. Some people even plan their whole trip to Austria around these events, while some others come back every single year.
Practical information for visiting Almabtrieb in Tyrol
Feeling inspired to visit Tyrol and attend one of the cattle drives and traditional celebrations? Here is some practical information.
- Here you can find a list of some of the bigger and the most impressive cattle drives in Tyrol with the dates for this year. Here are the dates of Almabtrieb celebrations in the other Austrian regions. Most of them happen on a weekend, in the period from mid September through beginning of October.
- Almabtrieb attracts many visitors, so it’s best to stay in or near the town so that you don’t have to drive and look for a parking spot miles away. Here you can find the best deals for accommodation in Reith im Alpbachtal. If you are planning to attend another event, here you can find the best accommodation deals for the Austrian Alps.
- If you like to experience these traditional celebrations to the fullest, you may want to get a dirndl or lederhosen.
- On the website of Alpbachtal region you can find more information about all kind of events in the area. Check it out – there’s always so much going on, from cattle drives to dumpling day or even air rifle shooting.
Traveling to Tyrol and looking for more ideas on what to see and do in the area? Here are some of the best family-friendly summer activities in Austrian Tyrol.
Disclaimer: I visited Tirol in partnership with Tirol Tourist Board and Alpbachtal Seenland region. As always, all opinions are my own.
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