Cow Mardi GrasCow Mardi Gras

COW MARDI GRAS

Innsbruck, Austria

You hear them from across the valley. Deep bellowing, the clang of bells, and a side of yodelling.

Then, you see them through the trees. A parade of cows trussed up in floral headbands, lead by a strapping lad in lederhosen and a busty maid in a dirndl. Add the stein of wheat beer and the sausage you just ordered, and you’re at peak Austria.

Every year, the good cow farmers of the Austrian, German and Swiss Alps bring the cows back from a safe summer in the hills to spend the winter in the lowlands.

And every year, they celebrate this. Hard.

There’s the cow parade (best milk-producing cow gets to lead), a healthy spot of yodelling, tooting on the alphorn, and lots and lots of beer.

It’s called the Alpabzug, Alpabfahrt, Desalpe, Almabtrieb or Viehscheid, depending on which area you’re in.

Just ask Hans at the station where the cow party’s at.

Welcoming the cows happens across Austria, Switzerland and Germany in September and October.

Click here for specific dates in Tyrol, Austria.