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Alpine Descents all over Switzerland
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Alpine Descents all over Switzerland

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Alpine descents, whether they are called Alpabzug, Désalpe or S-chargiada, are a huge thing in Switzerland, a testimony of the deeply rooted traditional background of Swiss people. The cows come back from Alpine pastures for the winter and this is cause for celebration. For those of you looking to get know the real Switzerland, this is as real as it gets.

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The alpine landscapes in Switzerland are home to many families that still practice and preserve the art of shepherding. They make sure cattle and sheep herds graze up in the Alps during the summer, then return to the villages for the cold seasons. This event is celebrated with pomp and circumstance across all Switzerland - and you're definitely invited to partake in the wonderful feasts.

Just by taking a look at the preparations involved in such an event, you can see this tradition means a lot to local families:

Désalpes Val d’Anniviers | Valais

Cattle processions will take place in several villages in the Anniviers Valley, on 18th and 25th September. They start either at 10:30 or 11:00.

Traditional events, food, fun contests, and musical entertainment are staged to celebrate the cows of the special Herens breed with their beautiful floral adornments as they return to the fold. 

 

Désalpe Blonay 

On 25th September starting with 11 am, you are welcome to join in the celebration of local armaillis (master shepherds). 

The procession starts from Les Guedères and arrives at the Grand-Pré. Besides admiring the herds, you can hear some Alpine horn sounds or enjoy the regional products. Check the latest updates here.

 

Sheep fair and Désalpe | Jaun, Gruyère

Lesser known than the alpine festival in Charmey but equally charming, this descent will focus on sheep, not cattle. The fun starts early in the morning and ends in the evening with a traditional dance in the various restaurants of the village. 

The dates are to be announced, so you might want to keep an eye on their website

Leukerbad, Gemmi Alpabzug © Switzerland Tourism/ Marco Schnyder

 

Rock ta Désalpe de Serin | Anzère, Valais

Désalpe with a twist? Say no more! The locals of Anzère are adding some music to the descents happening on September 25th.

After the cattle procession starts at 11:00 from the gondola in Anzere, it concludes at Restaurante de Poste, where guests are welcome to enjoy some raclette, local merchandise, activities for kids, and live music by Paul Mac Bonvin. Check more details here.

 

Désalpe | Charmey, Gruyère

Charmey’s crowning event of the year, which has acquired international renown, takes place on 25th September this year. It's your chance to witness the 'Rindyà' , a quintessential mountain tradition (in local dialect it means giving back the sheep to their owners). 

Opening hours are usually 09:00 - 14:30, but we recommend that you check for updates next year. 

 

Grand Désalpe Mixte | Caux, Vaud

Near Montreux, the small village of Caux will put on a show for the descent of
the animals from mountain pastures.

Yodelling, Alphorn, demonstrations with animals, artisans’ market, entertainment for children and food stands will complete the event. ‘Mixed’ means both cattle and sheep will star in the processions.

Make note, however, that this désalpe is also closed to participants this year.

Désalpe in St. Cergue | Jura Vaudois

A few minutes from Nyon and Lake Geneva, the village of Saint-Cergue is a gateway to the Jura Vaudois Regional Nature Park. Dominated by the Dôle (1677m), the fir forests, valleys and clearings offer breathtaking views of Lake Geneva, the Alps and the Jura.

The festivities can span even 2 days, but sadly they won't be held in 2021.

 

Entlebuch Alpine Fest | Schüpfheim, Lucerne

The Entlebuch UNESCO Biosphere is known as ‘the Wild West’ of Switzerland, thanks to its particular craggy landscape. This Alpine fest takes place in Schüpfheim, a beautiful village part of the UNESCO Biosphere.

For 2021, the organizers decided to have the tradition take place, but without spectators. 

 

Désalpe d’Etivaz | Vaud

Known for its cheese, the Pays d’Enhaut village of Etivaz honours this tradition every year with an entertaining day showcasing local products.

Note: the event has been postponed to 1st October 2022.

S-chargiada d‘Alp | Müstair, Graubünden

The best milk cows will be decorated and welcomed by villagers. Be there at 11 September at around 10:30 – 17:00 for the cow procession.

Update: the event has been cancelled this year, but you can look forward to 2022.

 

For more such festivities, check this calendar of events. If you're looking for more autumn inspiration, check out this page and sign up to our newsletter to find out what other exciting things are happening in Switzerland. 

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