In Tirol any great event in the calendar is a reason for a festival and few are greater than the coming home of the cattle for winter: This is when farming villages all over Tirol round up the herds for the great autumn cattle drive.
Each year at the beginning of summer, some 190,000 cows, horses, sheep and goats are brought up to Tirol’s beautiful Alpine pastures to graze on juicy meadows. Some 120 days later, farming villages all over Tirol round up the herds for the great autumn cattle drive. This is when the cattle, decked out in garlands of flowers and ribbons, with bells attached to their heavy leather collars, is driven down from the Alpine pastures to their winter quarters down in the valley. The distant distinctive sound of the cowbells grows as the herds join and get closer to the villages. Meanwhile crowds gather down in the valley, local people together with holidaymakers, to line the streets along the route the steadily growing herd is to take.
Cattle Drives: A Traditional Homecoming
Over 40 cattle drives are taking place from early September through mid-October throughout Tirol. The homecoming of the cows is still a very special and proud day for the villages. Apart from celebrating the homecoming of the animals, people also celebrate the homecoming of more than 3,000 Alpine herdsmen and dairymen who as well spend their summers above timberline. On the day of the grand cattle drive, stalls are set up in the street, selling all sorts of authentic Tirolean specialties and refreshments. Brass bands are out in force as well and the streets become full of people in traditional Tirolean lederhosen and dirndl costumes. A perfect opportunity to enjoy authentic Tirolean customs!