Alpine Cattle Drive Festivals at Lake Achensee
When in autumn the first frost blankets the mountain pastures, it’s time for the farmers and herdsmen to move back their cattle to the valley.
Again this year, there will be numerous cattle drives in the mountains surrounding Lake Achensee. The farmers will spend several days preparing the elaborate headdresses for their cows. The garlands are made of ribbons, banners, pictures of saints, flowers and plants such as alpine roses, juniper, mountain pines, fir branches, moss and lichen. Beautifully decked out, the cows are herded back to the valley after spending the summer on the lush pastures. Both locals and visitors enjoy the spectacular sight, and there will be numerous festivities throughout the region.
Alpine cattle drives are a centuries-old tradition where farmers express their gratitude for an accident-free summer. If there has been an accident, there will be no festivities. To ensure that summers remain peaceful in the future, the cattle have bells attached to their collars which guide the animals safely down from the mountain pasture to the village and protect them from evil spirits.
Traditional music turns the cattle drives into a folk festival
The farmer families look forward to the safe return of the cattle and put on their dirndls, lederhosen and festive costumes. To celebrate the occasion, there will be tasty regional specialities like Krapfen (pasta envelopes), fresh milk, alpine cheese, bacon and spicy bread, music and entertainment – a festival of fragrances, sounds and colours.
In the Rofan and Karwendel mountains there are more than 50 managed mountain pastures. At the end of the summer season, between September and October, the cows are herded back from the mountain pastures to their home stables.