Every year, at the beginning of fall, travellers in Switzerland can witness a fascinating live tradition called Alpabzug also known as the Alpine Cow Descent. The people of Switzerland are known to love their cows and pride upon them as they form an irreplaceable part of the Swiss culture and agriculture. The cow parade during these alpine descents is a way for the Swiss to praise and appreciate their beloved cows even more!
After spending the summer grazing on mountain pastures with fresh herbs, the cows are ushered down by the Swiss farmers dressed in traditional attire, to spend their winters in the barn. Attending an alpine descent is your only chance to appreciate the beauty and grace of those magnificent animals. The farmers decorate their herds with the biggest bells, flowers, herbs and flags. Along with the aesthetic satisfaction, the rhythmic sound of the cow-bells accompanying the procession have a surprisingly calming effect.
There are dozens of alpine descents that happen all across the country, but the biggest take place in popular towns of Engelberg or Gstaad. The festivities are more than just pretty cows, during the parade you will hear alpenhorns and yodeling, see traditional dancing, and flag-throwing. And what would be a Swiss festival if it didn’t involve food- think raclette, sausages of all kinds, baked delicacies, cheese and so much more! The Alpine Cow Descent is often combined with a farmer’s market, giving travellers an opportunity to try some traditional Swiss specialties prepared by the locals!