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Prättigauer Alp Spektakel
Colourful Alpine Descent in Seewis, Prättigau

The first cows appear on Seewis Alpine descent
The first cows appear from around the corner, quite a bit outside the village.

The "Prättigauer Alp Spektatkel" (or Praettigau Alp Spectacle) takes place in Seewis, a village perched on a sunny slope high above the Prättigau valley.

The Prättigau valley boosts more than 80 Alps where cows spend their summer feasting on fresh grass and alpine herbs. 27 of these Alps produce approximately 150 tonnes of flavourful alpine cheese made of raw milk and 15 tonnes of butter.

Sheep are part of the Alpine descent in Seewis
Sheep taking part in the Alpine descent as well.

Graubünden celebrates a wealth of alpine customs. Legends are alive and farmers are particularly proud of their traditions and heritage.

Cows and farmers at the Alpine descent in Seewis
All cows are differently decorated.

When summer ends and cows, sheep and goats return back to the villages from their alpine pasture, farmers throw a thanksgiving festival to honour the hard work of herdsmen and -women throughout the summer season.

All cows are differently decorated
Some of the cows wear signs: the one to the left reads: "Home is were the Alps are", and the second: "Goodbye to the mountains"

Some villages doing it rather quietly and without a fuss. Others' - like Seewis with its "Prättigauer Alp Spektakel" - took it to another level. Elaborate decorated cows, goats with handkerchiefs around their necks and sheep with a wreath around their bellies parade through the village, their proud owners up front. It is a colourful alpine festival with a vibrant market and all kinds of fun activities and entertainment.

Young farmers with their cows
Isn't she lovely - my niece to the right :)

Over 100 decorated cows parade against the eye-catching backdrop of the Rätikon mountain range toward the village of Seewis. The weather in the Alps is quite unpredictable and not every alpine descent takes place in sunny weather - but that does not affect the good mood.

The Alpine descent starts high above Seewis
If the weather is nice it's worth to walk up high above the village to greet the animals and accompany them back home.
Here are more of Hans Schlegel's photos.

Visitors waiting for the cows at the Prättigauer Alp Spektakel

When the cows come home, spectators await them patiently. The large bells can be heard from afar, way before the cows arrive in the village.

Cows arrive in the village of Seewis

The "Prättigauer Alp Spektakel" is no ordinary folk event. It is the only alpine descent in Switzerland that combines new ideas with age-old traditions of the Alpine culture. Amongst other things, they added Alpine Olympic Games to their program. Herds-women and -men compete in entertaining disciplines such as milking cows, fence building, bouncing on milking stools, Alpine storytelling, goat herding and more.

Small boys pracitce Swiss wrestling
Early practice makes a pro

You don't have to be a professional herdsmen to participate in the fun. Everybody can join in and compete in the somewhat eccentric and not too seriously disciplines such as throwing rubber boots :-)

Market stalls along Hauptstrasse in Seewis

Market stall on market stall along Main Street where local specialties - from cheeses to air dried meats, pastries and home-made liquors can be sampled and purchased.

Home made goodies at the alpine descent in Seewis

Main street filled up quickly and everyone checked out what was on offer. Even the sun came out and made it all even more enjoyable.

Swiss Alpine cheese at the Alpine Festival in Seewis

Want to sample Alpine cheese? It's made of raw milk. The regulations are very strict, but still, Alpine cheese can't be exported. So we have them to eat all by ourselves - unless you come and visit and help in the feast.

Home made goodies at the alpine descent in Seewis

Home made bread, pastries, dried fruits, preserves, and liqueurs. The tart in the right lower corner was invented in my home village and is called "Fideriser Torte". The one to the left is the famous "Engadin Nut Tart" (Tuorta da Nusch) with a nut and honey filling to die for - a delicious calorie bomb :)

A paper bag filled with locally produced home-made goodies

The "Scarnuz Grischun" (Scarnuz is rumantsch for paper bag) is filled with typical specialties from Graubünden. One can purchase these specialties year round through the "Scarnuz Grischun" organization - a network of about 40 farmers who produce home-made specialties.

A market stand with home-made products in Seewis

All kinds of home-made products: crocheted and knitted, backed and brewed and preserved.

Home made Schnapps

We love our Schnapps. There's one for every conceivable occasion - enriched with different herbs, fruits, flower petals, nuts, honey and even young fir needles. Some are said to have healing powers.

Röteli - a Schnapps from Graubünden

And here the "Schnapps of all Schnappes" of Graubünden called Röteli. It's made of cherries and some other secret ingredients depending on the family recipe.

Marketstand at the Seewis Alpine festival

Air dried meet, a chunk of cheese or a delicious tart? The choice is yours!

Marketstand at the Seewis Alpine festival

Some came in their best fineries. To the left, the "Prättigauer Festtagstracht" (festive costume of the Prättigau Valley). By the way, the brown costume to the right in the photo just above is a traditional "working costume" of Graubünden. It can be blue, brown or russet.

If you Go

  • Second weekend in October: 07 - 09 October, 2016
Saturday program
  • 11am: Cows, goats and sheep alpine descent;
  • 10am to 6pm: Fest tent with food and folk music;
  • 10am to 6pm: market with locally produced specialties;
  • 8:30pm: Party with food and dance in the festival tent. Slogan: Every party has to be the best party!
Sunday program
  • 10:10am: Church service with yodel mass;
  • 10am to 4pm: Alpine Olympics. The award ceremony - Alpine queen and king - will take place in the large festival tent at 4:15pm;
  • 10am to 4pm: market with locally produced specialties;
  • 10am to 4pm: culinary specialties and folk music in the festival tent;
  • 1pm to 5pm: Cattle spectacle and fest tent on the meadow below the church; the most beautiful and productive cow will be crowned "Alpen Queen" in the fest tent at 4:45pm.

Festive decorated Swiss cows
Mirror, mirror on the wall who is the prettiest of them all?

Alpine Olympics for non-pros

If you dare, do register, either through their website or send them an email to let them know that you want to participate.

How to get to Seewis
  • By train: Seewis is easily reached by train and bus. The Rhätian Railway (RhB) takes you as far as Grüsch, where the postal bus takes visitors up to the village of Seewis in 20 minutes in hourly intervals (every 5 minutes after a full hour).

    Special Offer: If you arrive by train you only need a single ticket from Landquart to Grüsch (or any other place in the Canton Graubünden), your return ride is free on this weekend;

  • By Car: Plenty of parking available for cars at the P&R parking facilities in Grüsch-Danusa (follow signs). Shuttle-bus service to Seewis in 20 minute intervals, starting at 9am.
  • Event tickets including shuttle bus from Grüsch train station and car park with cheese sampling bon: CHF 10;
  • Children up to 15 years of age free;
  • All Day Admission including Saturday night in the fest tent: CHF 20.
Stay for the Night
  • Package: 1 night including breakfast, admission to the "Prättigauer Alp Spektakel" on both days, 1 ticket for the evening party in the fest tent and 2 kg of the finest Alpine cheese if you book at one of the participating hotels or B&Bs.

This video shows a little about the atmosphere in Seewis and at the "Prättigauer Alp Spektaktel"

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