The 10 most spectacular cattle drives in Tirol
Over 2,100 alpine farms nestled amidst the Arlberg and Kaiser Mountains, Karwendel and Lienz Dolomites accommodate around 110,000 heads of cattle, 70,000 sheep. 5,500 goats and 2,000 horses for summer grazing. When the cattle are herded back down to the valley after around four months, local people with the holidaymakers celebrate their safe homecoming in spectacular style. The animals are decked out in magnificent headdresses, garlands of flowers and ribbons, with bells attached to their heavy leather collars in thanks for an accident free summer on the alpine pastures. This occasion is known as “Almabtrieb” in German.
1. Traditional Festival in Brixental
The big cattle drive in Hopfgarten and Kelchsau is a beautiful and traditional festival, celebrated with local music, Tirolean delicacies and fine, homemade schnapps. The hamlet of Kelchsau with its original village centre provides the perfect backdrop for the farmer’s market on cattle drive day. Most of the cattle have to be herded even further down the valley to their home farms in Hopfgarten and Itter. Hundreds of cows are therefore herded through Hopfgartner Market, where they are received with music and applause.
2. „Homecoming“ of the cows in Kufstein
The safe homecoming of the cows is celebrated with a folk music festival at the upper town square during the Kufstein cattle drive. The event includes a programme of great music, „Plattler“ traditional thigh slapping and lederhosen wearing dancers as well as children’s entertainment.
3. From Gramaialm to Lake Achensee
The cows enjoy particularly pleasant summers at the beautifully situated Gramaialm above Pertisau. And visitors to the Graimaialm cattle drive also have a wonderful time, because the celebrations kick off in front of Alpengenusshof Gramai in the morning with festive brunch (and cold beer of course), music and a farmer’s market. At midday, the journey down to the valley and Pertisau begins, where the animals and dairymen are welcomed with live music.
4. Folk Festival in Alpbachtal
The cattle drive in Reith in Alpbachtal is the highpoint of the year in this idyllic Tirolean village. The end of the summer grazing season is celebrated with a large parish festival. Visitors can look forward to a farmer’s market with regional delicacies such as bacon and homemade bread. Woodcarvers, basket weavers, schnapps makers and glass engravers demonstrate their skills at a craft market. Several live bands provide music entertainment.
5. Over 500 animals return home from their summer break
Over 500 beautifully decorated heads of cattle are herded from their alpine summer grazing pastures down to the valley during the traditional cattle drive in Auffach in Wildschönau. Their safe homecoming is celebrated with an Alpine Festival and craft and farmer’s market at the Schatzbergbahn cable car parking lot in Auffach. Folk music bands create great music and a wonderful atmosphere. The Alpine Festival usually goes on until late at night, because there is so much to talk about after the long beautiful summer in Wildschönau.
6. Sea of Sheep
The sheep drive in Tarrenz, is the largest cattle drive in the Imst region and a fantastic experience. Around 1,000 sheep and lambs return from their summer break on the Hinterberg-Alm farm to the Gurgltal community, where locals and holidaymakers line the streets to welcome their woolly four-legged friends home. Lamb also features heavily on the menus of the many restaurants in the region at this time of year.
7. Sheep and Haflinger Pony Cattle Drive
Hundreds of original „Tirolean mountain sheep“ and a large number of „Tirolean Haflinger ponies“ are herded down to the valley from the Berliner Hut every year in mid-September. The safe homecoming of the animals is duly celebrated at the traditional cattle drive festival in Finkenberg at the Dornau festival grounds, with lively music and original Zillertal specialities.
8. 3 Day Descent with 700 Animals
The cattle drive in Tannheim is one of the most magnificent in the entire region. Colourfully decorated in garlands of flowers and ribbons, with bells attached to their heavy leather collars, up to 700 cows and young animals return from the six Tannheim alpine grazing areas to their farms down in the valley, accompanied by lively music and admiring glances of the spectators. The animals, their dairymen and shepherds have to overcome a descent of up to 1,000 altitude metres over a period of three days. You will surely agree - the homecoming celebrations in the festival marquee are very well-deserved!
9. Kaiserwinkl “Almhoamfahr'n” Homecoming
A unique atmosphere prevails at the annual cattle drive in Kössen, when the colourfully decorated animals are herded through the village accompanied by a loud ringing of cowbells. Kössen Town Band join the celebrations and a historical procession is another part of the festivities. Traditional farming delicacies and homemade schnapps are yet more indispensable elements of this charming festival.
10. A Whole Week Dedicated to the Cattle Drive
In Söll, the focus is on the returning animals a number of days before the actual cattle drive: The whole week is celebrated with various festivities. Söll Town Band opens the traditional cattle drive in Söll with a procession through the village. Market and handicraft stalls lend a very special flair to the village during the festivities.
Over 40 major and numerous smaller cattle drives take place in Tirol in autumn. Check out the download area for a complete overview of all cattle drives in Tirol.