Decorated cows for the Almabtrieb, where the cattle are led back from their alpine pasture, Tannheimer Tal, a valley in Tyrol, Austria
© Hans Lippert/Alam
Till the cows come home
These stylish cows are celebrating their annual return from high Alpine pastures to the towns and villages where they'll spend the winter. Known as the Almabtrieb, the tradition is held in late September or early October throughout the Alpine regions of Europe. The cows are often decorated elaborately: towering headdresses, flowered wreaths, and collars with fine embroidery and heavy bells. Today we’re in the Austrian state of Tyrol, where more than 100,000 head of cattle make this seasonal migration. It's been happening for thousands of years, as the rich summer grass on mountain grazing land makes for much better milk.
Here in the Tannheimer Tal, a valley of the Allgäu Alps in Austria, the event historically brings farmers and villagers together for a festival filled with music and dance, however most events have been cancelled for 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. So let's raise a glass of milk - or schnapps - to remember a centuries-old tradition instead.