Descent Of The Alpine Cows

The Descent Of The Alpine Cows Festival – A Weekend In Blatten

Cows in flower crowns – what more do you need? The Descent of the Alpine Cows is a traditional, and let’s be honest completely adorable, annual festival not to be missed. I recently planned a last minute visit to the town of Blatten in Switzerland to see the festival for myself and it did not disappoint at all. The weekend away basically involved the cultural festival as well as lots of cheese, beer, bratwurst, hiking amongst incredible scenery and lots of cute animals. It was all so much fun that I just had to share it all here on the blog. Hopefully you can add this extraordinary travel experience to your bucket list too and, as always, if you are inspired by my post I would appreciate it if you could share it on your own social media channels.

The Descent Of The Alpine Cows Festival – A Weekend In BlattenThe descent of the alpine cows is a unique and totally adorable, traditional festival that is not to be missed! Here is all the info you need to plan your visit.

About The Festivals

The Descent of the Alpine Cows festival is exactly as it sounds – it is a festival where cows descend from the mountains. Each year farmers bring their cows down from the mountains before winter to give them a place of warmer refuge during the cold weather. It’s a tradition that has been turned into festivals in many alpine regions where people cheer on the farmers as they walk their cows, dressed in flower crowns, through the streets.

After the cows enter the town, they are allowed some rest in a grassy area while the celebrations continue. Farmers have a chance to talk about their cows, stalls are set up with local creators selling their goodies and beer and bratwurst are enjoyed by all before the cows move on to their winter home in the afternoon.

Descent Of The Alpine Cows

Descent Of The Alpine Cows

The festivals happen throughout September and into October each year.

The beauty of these festivals are that you can find them in different towns, regions and even countries, basically anywhere in an alpine region. I visited for a festival in Switzerland, though you could also attend a festival in places like Italy or Austria.

Descent Of The Alpine Cows

Descent Of The Alpine Cows

My Experience

I attended a festival in the small town of Blatten in Switzerland which was pure mountainside magic.  The cows were scheduled to arrive sometime between 9 and 10am and, though it was a small town, people lined the streets awaiting their arrival. You could feel the anticipation building as we all would look up the slope and hold our breaths every time we heard a noise. We were usually disappointed that the noise was just a car or something equally un-cow like, until one noise stood out from the others. A distinctive cowbell.

It was time to welcome the cows!

Descent Of The Alpine Cows

Descent Of The Alpine Cows

Descent Of The Alpine Cows

Farmers walked proudly with their cows down the street, by the crowd who cheered and clapped for the entire procession. Once the cows moved into the festival area, they were tied up in a grassy area for a little well deserved rest. Maybe the rest was for the farmers as well as they stopped for a cold one and a bratwurst fresh off the grill.

You could see and feel the love and pride the farmers had for their cows which was one of my favorite things about this festival. Once the cows were all tied up, the farmers went around with fresh water for them to drink and the cows who did not like wearing their flower crowns had theirs removed. Often times throughout the day I would see one of the farmers standing by their cows giving lots of pets, chin scratches and cuddles which was so heartwarming. You need not worry about this being animal exploitation, instead there was a lot of love for these animals as they made their way to their winter homes.

Travel Tip: Make sure you try some grilled Raclette cheese while you’re there! 

Descent Of The Alpine Cows

Descent Of The Alpine Cows

Where I Stayed

My home away from home for this trip was Hotel Blattnerhof which was one of those places I picked on a whim but turned out to be one of those hidden gems that exceeded every expectation. It was a one minute walk from where the festival was held which was super convenient – I even took a few trips back to my room throughout the day to drop off and pick up my jacket as the weather changed.

It had all the usual things you would expect from a hotel – clean, cozy rooms, wi-fi, great breakfast, parking but the thing I loved most about the hotel was the wellness center which includes a steam room, sauna, indoor and outdoor pool and relaxing chairs. It costs an extra 20CHF but is so worth it! After the long day hiking in the mountains it felt so good to relax and give those muscles a little TLC.
Booking.com

Descent Of The Alpine Cows

Blatten

I recommend making the most of your weekend in Blatten and exploring the area a little. For about 25CHF each way you can take the ski lift up the mountain to Belalp which has endless hiking trails with scenic views. It’s not all rugged, intense hiking either – there are easy to follow trails for any fitness level and even just strolling around is beautiful up there. I recommend stopping in at the Hamilton Lodge for lunch with a view and make sure you try their famous burger – it’s delicious!

If you have more time, you could also take a day trip to Zermatt to see the famous Matterhorn or drive down to the town below, Naters, to explore more restaurants and stores.

Descent Of The Alpine Cows

Descent Of The Alpine Cows

I loved the mix of tradition, culture and cute animals –  can you see yourself attending one of the Descent of the Alpine Cows festivals?

18 Comments

  • wandering_woodsy September 27, 2017 at 5:17 am

    Awwww how cute are they 🐂🐑 and you can see how devoted the farmers are, that hotel looks postcade perfect😍

    Reply
    • Katie Mac October 2, 2017 at 12:04 pm

      Yeah the farmers had so much pride in their cows and were always giving them cuddles and showing them off to everyone. So nice to see!

      Reply
  • Iuliana Marchian September 27, 2017 at 9:08 am

    This festival is so authentic and a great occasion to see the animals in such a special posture. I know that in Switzerland they are not allowed to walk freely and have to stay only in the farms. I wonder how such a festival would take place in Romania, where cows and sheep still walk freely down the street and it’s a natural scene of the every day life.

    Reply
    • Katie Mac October 2, 2017 at 12:05 pm

      Oh wow, that’s so interesting that they can walk freely in Romania! I think I gotta visit just so I can see them!

      Reply
  • Laura September 27, 2017 at 12:05 pm

    I literally love cows so much and would love to see something like this. I love how dedicated and kind the farmers seem to be! I haven’t been to this region of the world quite yet, but if and when I do I want to try to go during this time!

    Reply
    • Katie Mac October 2, 2017 at 12:05 pm

      I hope you get to see one of the festivals when you visit this way 🙂

      Reply
  • Paige Wunder September 27, 2017 at 12:26 pm

    What a fun festival! I love animal festivals and it’s so fun seeing the proud farmers as well! I love that the gave them water and took care of their needs if they hated the crowns. The hotel looks lovely as well! I love when accommodation exceeds expectations like that!

    Reply
    • Katie Mac October 2, 2017 at 12:07 pm

      Yesss always the best surprise when hotels are better than expected!

      Reply
  • Candy September 28, 2017 at 5:09 am

    What a unique and fun festival you got to experience. My family in Nebraska have a farm with cows and they have so much personality. I could see my uncle being one of those proud farmers walking with his cows.

    Reply
    • Katie Mac October 2, 2017 at 12:08 pm

      Ohh that’s so sweet, maybe Nebraska needs something like this so he can show off his cows!

      Reply
  • Sandy N Vyjay September 28, 2017 at 6:55 am

    What a lovely and colourful festival. The cows look resplendent in their decorative attire. I have visited Switzerland twice but unfortunately have not had an opportunity to witness this sweet festival. I am amazed at how the cows are revered and valued.

    Reply
    • Katie Mac October 2, 2017 at 12:09 pm

      Yeah it was like they were on a pedestal and definitely the stars of the show which was so cool to see. I hope you get to visit one day!

      Reply
  • Ozzy September 28, 2017 at 8:01 am

    Seems like the Swiss and Indians have one thing in common – Cows are revered in both countries. The festival is something I have never heard of although have been to the country a few times. It would be really interesting to visit during the festival and get a chance to see the spectacle.

    Reply
    • Katie Mac October 2, 2017 at 12:09 pm

      I hope you get to see one of the festivals next time you visit this way 🙂

      Reply
  • Izzy Pulido September 28, 2017 at 11:40 am

    Omg this is just the cutest! The cows look absolutely precious and those flower crowns are s-t-y-l-i-s-h!!! I love that you ventured into Switzerland to partake in this very cultural event! And I am so happy to hear that there was an honest bond between farmer and cow. It seems like this is part of the bucolic lifestyle and I just love the simplicity and tradition behind this festivity!

    Reply
    • Katie Mac October 2, 2017 at 12:10 pm

      They are so adorable right?! Such a cool and unique festival to attend, I love all the tradition too!

      Reply
  • LaiAriel R. Samangka September 30, 2017 at 4:51 pm

    Wow, this is actually one of the interesting events I’ve read. I never thought cows could rhyme together and do this kind of event. I find them so cute and I love that they’re really friendly. I wish to witness this kind of event If I get the chance. Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

    Reply
    • Katie Mac October 2, 2017 at 12:11 pm

      I hope you get to see it if you visit this way 🙂 It’s such a cool experience!

      Reply

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