Viehscheid Hirten
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Viescheid in the Allgäu – A Traditional Alpine Festival

Deutsche Fassung German translated articles

The Allgäu, my home, is known for its breathtaking Alpine scenery and deeply rooted traditions. One of the most fascinating and colourful of these celebrations is the “Viehscheid,” an annual event in which decorated cows are driven down from the mountain pastures to mark the beginning of autumn. In this blog article, I would like to introduce you to this tradition.

Kranzkuh Viehscheid
The wreathed cow leads the herd

The Tradition of the Viehscheid in the Allgäu

The cattle drive (another term for Almabtrieb) has a long tradition in the Allgäu. In spring, grazing cattle are driven to the high pastures of the Allgäu Alps, where they spend the summer feasting on lush, herb-rich grass until they are brought down again in autumn. If no harm befalls any animals in the herd during their summer stay in the alpine pastures, they are festively decorated with flowers, ribbons, and bells. On the day of the cattle drive, shepherds who have spent the summer with the animals on the alpine pastures move down into the valley with the decorated herd. There, the cattle are then “divorced” (Viehscheid) and handed over to their respective owners.

Viehscheid im Allgäu

Preparations and Festive Atmosphere

Preparations for the Viehscheid begin early in the morning. The cows are adorned with flowers, colourful ribbons, and large bells that produce melodic sounds. Herds’ men don traditional Allgäu costumes and take pride in safely bringing their herds home.

Kranzkuh Viehscheid
Decorated cow

The Spectacle of the Cattle Drive

As the sun rises, locals and tourists gather along the Viehscheid route to witness the spectacle. It is an impressive sight when the cows’ bells ring, and music fills the air as the herds descend into the valley. The vivid colours of traditional costumes and floral decorations create a picturesque backdrop.

shepherds at the viehscheid
Shepherds bringing the cattle down into the valley

Fellowship and Enjoyment

Once the animals have safely arrived in their home villages, the real celebration begins. There is music, dancing, and delicious Allgäu specialities. People gather in festival tents and beer gardens to savor local delicacies such as Käsespätzle, Weißwurst (white sausage), and, of course, beer.

Conclusion

The Viehscheid in the Allgäu is not only a traditional festival but also an occasion to celebrate and preserve regional culture. Despite the modern lifestyle, this custom remains an important tradition passed down from generation to generation. It offers an opportunity to experience Allgäu hospitality and its close connection to nature. If you are fortunate enough to visit the Allgäu in autumn, you should not miss this colourful spectacle. It’s an experience you won’t soon forget.

When is the Viehscheid in the Allgäu?

Viehscheid dates in the Allgäu 2023

8. September 2023

  • Kranzegg from 9 am

9. Septembr 2023

  • Pfronten from 10 am
  • Seeg

10. September

  • Nesselwängle

11. September

  • Bad Hindelang from 8.30 am

12. September

  • Schöllang

13. September 

  • Oberstdorf from 8.30 am

15. September

  • Balderschwang from 10 am
  • Nesselwang from 10 am
  • Oberstaufen from 8.30 am
  • Unterjoch from 10 am
  • Grän-Haldensee 

16. September

  • Jungholz
  • Gunzesried from 9 am
  • Zell ab 10 am
  • Schattwald 
  • Immenstadt from 9 am 
  • Pfronten-Röfleuten from 10 am
  • Wengen from 10 am
  • Hohenschwangau ab 12.30 am

18. September

  • Viehmarkt Buchung from 9.30 am
  • Wertach from 8 am

19. September

  • Bolsterlang from 8.30 am
  • Riezlern from 8.15 am

21. September

  • Tannheim

22. September 

  • Thalkirchdorf from 9 am

23. September

  • Haslach ab 11 am
  • Missen-Wihams from 9.30 am
  • Obermeiselstein from 9 am 

24. September

  • Älplerletze from Hahnenkamm 

30. September

  • Haldenwang  from 10 am

1. October

  • Apfeltrang from 10.30 am

3. October 

  • Memhölz from 11 am

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About Author

Petra Top is a dynamic freelance travel journalist hailing from Altusried, Germany, who expertly balances her roles as a Motorsport enthusiast, translator, author, and social media strategist. Her expert skill set includes web designing, multilingual communications, and photography, enriched by notable memberships in international travel and food writers' organisations. Petra's life philosophy—"I travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape me"—captivates her audience, reflecting her passion for exploration and sustainable innovation at Travel Buddies Lifestyle.

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