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 Almabtrieb, the tradition is held in late fall throughout the Alpine regions of Europe. Today, we're in the Tannheimer Tal, a valley of the Allgäu Alps in Austria, where the event brings farmers and villagers together for a festival with music, dance, feasts, and booths selling food and artisanal products.
Decorations can be elaborate for the people, and especially for the cows: towering headdresses and flowered wreaths, collars with fine embroidery or heavy bells. Here in the Austrian state of Tyrol, more than 100,000 heads of cattle make this seasonal migration. It’s been happening for thousands of years, as the rich summer grass in mountain grazing land makes for much better milk. So, this weekend, raise a glass of milk—or schnapps—to mark the passing of another summer.