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2022 guide to alpine cow parades in Switzerland

Alpine Descent in Appenzell 2021

With the onset of autumn, farmers across Switzerland return their herds of cows, sheep, and goats from the high-altitude pastures. It is the season of alpine cow parades.

This age-old tradition marks a milestone in a farmer’s year. And this homecoming of farm animals is a spectacle for onlookers, too. We have previously tried to convince you to see an alpine cow parade in your lifetime. And when we recently witnessed several alpine descents in Appenzell, we decided to research where the désalpes in Switzerland are taking place in 2022.

Upcoming alpine cow parades in Switzerland:

Nov 11 - 15: Farmer festival in Weggis

In case you have missed all the other events, you are in luck this year. The Sännächilbi in Weggis is hosted every five years by a local farmers' association with roots dating back to 1686. During the course of this five-day farmer festival, there will be various activities such as bouldering, food stalls, and live folk music. But the surefire highlight is the grand parade at 1:30 PM on Sunday.

Important: due to the ongoing pandemic, many alpine descents are not advertised this year. Please check an event's website before attending.

These alpine cow parades have already passed:

Aug/Sept: Various alpine cow parades in Appenzell

This autumn, we have finally witnessed the arrival of cows in the Appenzell region. Each procession consists of a particular setup: white goats lead the way, followed by dairy cows, and finally cattle. In between, boys and girls, as well as herdsmen and the owner, hike from the alpine pastures to the center of Appenzell.

Fun fact: the typical yellow pants for this region are only worn by herdsmen who stay on the mountain for the entire summer.

For instance, on Aug 30, arrivals in Appenzell were around 1 PM (Farmer Koch), and 3 PM (Farmer Inauen). Another place to catch them was in the town of Weissbad, where the parades passed at 9:30 AM and around 1 PM.

Sign up for the free newsletter of Appenzell Tourism announcing most of their parades ahead of time.

2021 guide to alpine cow parades in Switzerland - Appenzell

Sept 3: Alpine descent “Züglete” in Gstaad

In Gstaad, the homecoming of cows is called “Züglete,” which means as much as “relocation.” Since cows are traditionally adorned with flower bouquets, this event is a feast for the eyes.

The festivities start in the morning with a parade of bells that announce the arrivals. About twice an hour, another farmer family will arrive along with their beautiful Simmental cows. Throughout Gstaad, find market booths, a show cheese dairy, and even a petting zoo.

More information

Sept 10: Alpine descent in Saas-Balen

This event in Valais is smaller scale but nonetheless beautiful. Experience how the cows return from the Hoferälpji to the town of Saas-Balen. The bovines will depart the alpine pastures at 10 AM, which puts them in the village around noon. A cheese market where the summer’s dairy products are hawked follows the parade. Music and entertainment continue until 6 PM.

More information via email or phone: +41 27 957 21 43

Sept 12: Alpine descent from Spätenalp to Wengen

This cow parade combines the stunning scenery of the Lauterbrunnen Valley with beautifully decorated livestock. What else can you ask for? Around 11 AM, the cows are expected to arrive in the town of Wengen after their descent from Spätenalp. Commonly, the cows will be adorned with flowers, ribbons, and large bells.

Sept 16: Alpine descent in Summiswald

As early as 7:30 AM, the herdsmen will depart from their alps towards the valley. Between 8:30 AM and 1 PM, various groups will pass through the town of Wasen im Emmental. And between 9 AM and 1 PM, groups are expected to arrive in Summiswald.

Since there will be many different farmers in this event, you can expect just as many farm animals in the parades: oxen, dairy cows, cattle, and goats. And while you enjoy all the festivities, indulge in local food from the various clubs.

More information

Copyright Interlaken Tourism

Sept 17: Alpine descent in Anzère

Anzère above Sion welcomes the cows of Alp Serin home at 11 AM. The best place to enjoy the procession will be at the cable car or Restaurant de la Poste where the cows arrive. The latter is where all the entertainment takes place, and local food is sold.

Sept 17: Alpine descent in Blatten - Belalp

As summer draws to a close, the farmers of Blatten-Belalp traditionally drive their cows back to the valley. To celebrate this occasion, the farmers will decorate their cows for the long journey to Blatten.

Starting at 7 AM, the cows will embark on their journey. They are expected to arrive in Blatten near Naters at 11 AM. You might want to arrive a bit earlier, however, as the festivities at the valley station of Blatten are set to begin at 9 AM.

The program calls for flag-wavers, yodeling, and the traditional crowning of the “Belalp Alpine Queen” at 3 PM.

More information

Sept 17: Désalpes in La Fouly

The alpine parade in La Fouly takes place in the French-speaking part of Valais. The village is quite a ways from even Martigny, which is a 35-minute drive or 52-minute ride on public transport. Nonetheless, this will be a scenic désalpes involving four mountain pastures: Mont-Percé, Ars, Peule, and Léchère/Plan de la Chaux.

A 10 AM parade precedes the arrival of the animals. The food stalls with everything from raclette to BBQ will open before noon. A definite highlight will be the cow fights at 2:30 PM. The winning cow will walk away as the official “Queen of Désalpe”... 

More information

Sept 17: Alpine descent in Innertkirchen

Each region has its own traditions when it comes to désalpes. Innertkirchen in the Bernese Alps enjoys two homecomings this year, each from a different alpine meadow. While festivities begin at 9 AM, the first cows of Alp Gental are scheduled to arrive around 11:30 AM.

Then, at 1:30 PM, the second batch of beautifully decorated cows is set to arrive from Alp Engstien. Each arrival is concluded with a parade in Innertkirchen, so you could hang out there to watch it all. However, those who want to capture beautiful photographs might want to hike toward the alps ahead of the arrivals to catch the cows in a natural setting.

The program calls for an alpine descent for children. Dressed in traditional shirts and outfits, you may drop the little ones at the church at 11:30 AM. They will enjoy activities at Grimseltor before being returned to Innertkirchen.

More information

Sept 17: Alpine descent in Mels

The alpine descents of Mels are among the most popular events in this region. They are easy to access for the city slickers among us. We recommend arriving in Mels around 10:30 AM. The easiest is to ride the bus to the “Post” station, then walk a few steps to the central square.

The artisanal farmers’ market will be in full swing. The arrival of the cows will be one of those lasting memories. To celebrate a successful summer, the farmers would decorate their farm animals with flowers, twigs, and beautiful bells.

Copyright Cloudia Chen

Sept 17: Cattle drive in the Suldtal near Spiez

With its tall waterfall, the idyllic Suldtal above Spiez makes for a unique setting. Around noon, the parade will pass by the restaurant. Traditionally, participating children wear folk costumes while the well-fed cows are decorated with bells and flower bouquets. The herdsmen, meanwhile, are busy keeping all the goats and bovines in line...

The best way to access this event is by bus 62 from Spiez, followed by a shuttle transfer to Restaurant Pochtenfall.

More information

Sept 17: Alpine descent in Urnäsch

The Appenzell region offers a perfect setting for the homecoming of cows. Throughout the morning, different farmers will arrive in the town of Urnäsch. But the best time to enjoy this tradition is between 10 AM and 1 PM.

On the same day, there will be a farmer's market on Kronenplatz with over 50 stalls and various entertainment and musical performances. (Don’t miss the pig races at 11 AM, 1 PM, and 3 PM!) Park your car at Appenzellerstrasse or at Werkhof Furt. From there, hop on a shuttle bus to Urnäsch. Or better yet, arrive by public transport...

More information

Sept 19: Wengernalp descent into Lauterbrunnen

After a weekend of cow parades in the region, farmers will be bringing back their livestock from Wengernalp. The best time to witness this annual Swiss tradition is in the late morning.

The cows will depart from Wengernalp at 9:30 AM, making their way into Wengen at 10:45 AM. You will have the best vantage points along Dorfstrasse. By 11:30 AM, the cows will arrive in Lauterbrunnen, trotting into town from the parking lot at the Lauterbrunnen church.

Sept 24: Désalpes in Charmey

Every last Saturday of September, the désalpes in Charmey celebrates the return of the cattle to the lower pastures. Among traditionalists, the rindyà (dialect for "alpine departure") is touted as one of the most authentic such events around.

Sept 24: Désalpes in Blonay

Very easy to access by car is the town of Blonay near Vevey. Around noon, the herd departs from the Guedères alpine pasture. Until the arrival at the castle of Blonay around 1 to 2 PM, the bovines and herdsmen will have walked for a dozen kilometers.

Starting at 11 AM, those awaiting the cows' arrival will indulge in local food, alphorn concerts, flag throwing performances, and more.

Alpabzug Alpine Cow Parade in Charmey

Sept 24: Alpine descent and market in Emmetten

From 10 AM through 5 PM, the town of Emmetten welcomes farmers and their livestock. There will also be an alpine market in this beautiful setting on the southern shores of Lake Lucerne. Expect a selection of the summer's best cheese, meats, and honey, among other things. The children will surely enjoy the petting zoo. And who knows, you might try your luck in the milking competition.

Sept 24: Désalpe in Grimentz

The cattle drives in the Val d'Anniviers are very unique in Switzerland: this region in Valais is known for the black Herens breed. From 11:30 AM onwards, the beautifully decorated "queens" and their herds will arrive in the historic old town of Grimentz. A farmers market with local cheese varieties, as well as live music and other entertainment round off the program.

Sept 24: Cattle drive in Klöntal near Glarus

How fun: while waiting for the cattle to return from the alpine pastures, a talented Swiss yodel performer will be holding a public workshop. Starting at 9 AM, Maja Keller-Roth will teach you all about natural yodeling at Hotel Rhodannenberg. (Register ahead of time.)

Or if you are brazen enough, you might jump into Lake Klöntal for one last swim. There will also be a small market, and alphorn players are scheduled to welcome the cattle.

More information

Sept 24: Entlebuch cattle drive in Schüpfheim

Now 17 years in the making, the Entlebucher Alpabfahrt is a spectacle in its own right. Some 200 animals belonging to seven farmer families are expected to walz into Schüpfheim around 11 AM. Their bells can be heard from far away, but the ornate decorations can only be seen once the bovines enter the town. Pay special attention to the humans with their local folk dresses, too.

Sept 24: Cattle drive at Schwarzsee in Plaffeien

After spending four months on alpine pastures, the cattle returns to the town center of Plaffeien. Throughout the day, about 1000 animals are expected to arrive home.

More information

Sept 25: Farmer's market in Isenthal

The day after the events in Emmetten, another central Switzerland commune celebrates the autumn's homecoming of livestock. At Isenthal, the beautifully decorated cows usually arrive in the afternoon. Please note that in 2022, there will only be a farmer's market without the alpine cow parade.

We have good memories of Isenthal from an alpine cheese-making experience. On this day, there will also be an artisanal market showcasing some lesser-known trades: bell-making, wood-carving, basket-weaving, or even the production of roof shingles.

The best way to arrive in Isenthal is by public Postal Bus. Shuttle buses will take you straight to this idyllic village above the lake. Alternatively, you could hike from Klewenalp to Isenthal in about five hours' time.

Oct 1: Annual sheep sheering in Savognin

In any normal year, the market square in Savognin would be taken over by upwards of 300 sheep. On one Saturday in October, the local farmers would bring them down from Alp Flix. And the first order of business is to sheer them all!

Given the pandemic, the Savognin Sheep Sheering event will be a bit different than in years prior. At 11 AM, the sheep will be brought onto the Plazza Grava where about 10 to 15 animals are shorn. Another highlight of the traditional Tundeida in Savognin is the market selling various wool products.

Oct 2: Glarner Alpchäs- und Schabziger-Märt in Elm

Every first Sunday in October, the picturesque town of Elm is host to a large market. Starting at 8 AM, the Glarner Alpchäs- und Schabziger-Märt features booths selling the cheese produced during the summer. Each cheese variety has its own flavor profile, so we recommend you sample your way through them all!

One of the attractions of this annual alpine festival is the arrival of the "Trychler" farmers carrying heavy bells. Their parade is followed by the homecoming of livestock.

Oct 7: Cantonal cattle show in Sarnen

For one day every autumn, the Reithalle area in Sarnen is turned into a cattle exhibit. This is the chance for farmers from the canton of Obwalden to showcase their best cows and cattle. Watch the skilled judges as they walk the rows of bovines, assessing each animal based on various criteria. From alpine dairy cows to valley cattle, there are some 40 categories of bovines in this competition. Look out for the steers along the street.

Oct 8: Désalpe in Le Boéchet

There's only one cattle drive in the entire canton of Jura. Around 2:30 PM, a dozen farmer families and their cattle are set to return from the Jura hills to the town of Boéchet. From the morning, there will be music, a parade, and an artisanal market.

Oct 8 - 9: Alpine festival in Seewis

The Prättigauer Alp Spektakel is already in its 16th year. If there is a single happening to experience it all, this festival is it. There will be a colorful alpine descent involving cows, sheep, and goats. There will also be a beauty contest crowning the nicest alpine beards and an artisanal marketplace.

The best way to get there is by public transport. Get off the train station in Grüsch or park your car at the valley station in Grüsch-Danusa. Every 20 minutes, a shuttle bus will take you to Seewis where the festival takes place.

More information

Copyright Christian Langenegger

Oct 14: Cattle show in Engelberg

The Viehschau Engelberg and Grafenort is an essential event for this alpine community. Starting at 10 AM, about 200 animals will be positioned, all in the running to be nominated a winner. This is a nice autumn festival with market booths selling farm products, a restaurant tent, and activities.

Oct 15: Cantonal cattle show in Glarus

Glarus is known for having the directest direct democracy in Switzerland. On the Landsgemeindeplatz, the citizens traditionally get to vote on issues by hand. But in autumn, the square becomes the site of another kind of vote... The cantonal cattle show takes up the entire space from 8:30 AM to 3 PM, with farmers showcasing their most handsome bovines.

Dimitri Burkhard

As the founder, editor, and community manager of Newly Swissed, Dimitri owns the strategic vision. He is passionate about storytelling and is a member of Swiss Travel Communicators.

Dimitri loves discovering new trends and covers architecture, design, start-ups and tourism.

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Dimitri Burkhard

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