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Alpabzüge in the area

With children back at school and the weather getting cooler, the time is approaching for another famous Swiss tradition.

The Alpabzug (also known as the Alpabfahrt or, in French, the Désalpe), refers to the annual journey made by cattle from mountain pastures to lower ground, where they will be spending the winter. Cows adorned with flowers, flags, and, of course, bells are guided through the village by herdsmen dressed in traditional costume, while children lead goats past cheering onlookers.

Joining the crowds to welcome the animals’ arrival is an excellent way to experience an iconic Swiss tradition, not to mention an opportunity to sample local Alpine specialties at various market stalls. Here are some of the Alpabzüge which will be taking place near Lucerne, all on Saturday, 28th September 2019:

Entlebucher Alpabfahrt

More than 200 cows will be returning to Schüpfheim, in the UNESCO biosphere reserve of Entlebuch. The seven Älplerfamilien (alpine families) are expected to arrive in the village at around 11:15, after which visitors will be able to enjoy a chorus of yodellers and alphorn players in front of the church and the start of the Älplerchilbi (folklore party). Arrive early to make the most of the market, which will sell cheese and local products from 10:00.

Viehschau Herbstmarkt, Weggis

From 10:00 you will be able to see cows dressed up on the village square, accompanied by musical entertainment. From 15:00 the cattle will be making their Heimfahrt (homeward journey) along Luzernerstrasse. Be sure to pop by the Herbstmarkt on Seestrasse, which will be selling local products and Alpine specialities from 9-16:00.

Viktoriagärtli, Engelberg

From 10-17:00, the Viktoriagärtli in Engelberg will be hosting a market at which approximately thirty vendors will be offering homemade products from the region, including bread, cheese, wine, and wool products. Don’t forget to applaud the Sennen (herdsmen) and their cattle as they process toward their winter home between 11:30 and 14:00.

Lucy Ferguson is a freelance writer/editor and edits the Living in Luzern magazine