Do you love the autumn season?
If I’m quite honest with you, not usually.
“But what about the pumpkin spice lattes?”
I know, they’re a nice touch to the season.
However, as a Jamaican it’s pretty safe to say that I’m used to having warm weather around the clock so it’ll take some getting used to for me.
This year, however, I plan to get out there & see what Switzerland has to offer. Maybe I’ll change my mind about the season & learn some more about Swiss culture (pumpkin spice fans can release their held breaths now 😜)
There are actually a few autumn festivals in Switzerland that seem to match that agenda.
So why not try out a few, right?
These festivals not only involve a lot of food tasting but also offer a more intimate look into Switzerland’s rich history & culture.
So, without further ado, here are some of those unique traditional festivals that you and I both can try this Autumn in Switzerland.
Four Traditional Autumn Festivals in Switzerland
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Alpabzug: Homecoming of the Cows
If you thought your ideas of Switzerland were simply stereotypes, you’d only be a little bit wrong 😉
Yes, believe it or not, the homecoming of cows is an actual thing! 😀
So what’s this cow homecoming all about?
Well, each year in Fall, farmers welcome home their herds of cows from the Swiss Alps where they’d been led to graze all summer long. The German speaking Swiss rightfully call it the “Alpabzug” (quite literally meaning the Alp deduction- get it? Literally “deducting” the cows from the Alps).
Related Article: 21 Interesting Facts About Switzerland
Fun Fact: Did you know cows actually prefer colder temperatures?
This Swiss tradition stems all the way back to 3000 BCE so you’re really witnessing a piece of cultural history unfold when you visit this festival.
The Alpabzug kicks off when the shepherds and a group of kids, all-dressed in traditional Swiss garb, escort the flower clad, bell toting cows from their summer Alpine homes. Depending on where you go to see the Alpabzug, too, you may be able to witness more than just beautifully dressed cows. In some villages you may also see other Swiss traditions such as yodeling, musicians playing alpenhorns or even men marching in tune with the cows’ clanging bells.
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If this event is a bit cheesy for you, you may (or may not) enjoy the next festival I’m about to tell you about.
Nope, we’re not done with the Swiss stereotypes just yet 😅
Another is coming right your way!
As I mentioned about the Alpabzug festival, farmers herd their cows back home from the Alps in the autumn season. That’s not a coincidence either. The milk produced from the fresh grass in the Alps is superb not only for good tasting milk, but also for cheese!
Yup, Switzerland is known for its cheese (to say the least) but all for good reason. There are over 450 types of cheeses in this very small country alone! So of course you’re bound to have a few cheese festivals celebrating the fact.
A visit to any of these cheese festivals offers exquisite tastes of the various prairie & Alpine cheeses as well as other traditional Swiss entertainment.
So cheese fans assemble & make your way out to any of the various cheese festivals in Switzerland. If you’re lucky, you may even find a good wine to drink alongside…
Did you know Switzerland also produces wine?
I know, I surely didn’t before moving here.
Countries like Italy are notorious for wine but who would have thought that the winter wonderland of Switzerland actually produced wine?
Well, wine does pair well with cheese so, why not?
In stark contrast to the other 2 Swiss autumn festivals, are its wine festivals that take place in the western & southern cantons of Switzerland.
The most popular spots for wine festivals in Switzerland are the cantons of Neuchâtel, Ticino, Valais and Vaud.
As grapes are harvested for the season, the Swiss throw huge celebrations that all wine lovers will certainly appreciate. The booths display the many various wine specialties of each region for visitors to taste & select according to their palettes.
Although wine tasting is definitely the star of the show, the festivals also include entertainment for all ages. Other festival activities can range from wine tours, concerts and even merry-go-rounds for the little ones.
So if you didn’t book your ticket to Switzerland for the chocolate or the cheese, definitely book it for the wine!
Chestnut Picking in Ticino
“Chestnuts roasting on an open fire
Jack Frost nipping at your nose..”
Nah, not just yet, we’ll save that for winter 😛
But for real, chestnuts really are roasting out on an open fire in autumn here in Switzerland.
They’re known as “Maroni” in Swiss-German and are a popular nut of choice during the autumn and winter months in Switzerland.
While many cantons produce the nut, by far the most popular is the southern canton of Ticino. In fact, the Ticino Chestnut Festival is home to one of the most popular chestnut festivals in Switzerland.
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The town of Ascona, hosts the festival each year on the 2nd Saturday of October. Visitors can try not only chestnuts but also the different products made from it such as honeys, jams & cakes.
Sounds like we have a lot of things to do this Autumn in Switzerland doesn’t it? So, let’s get crackin’ & schedule in a few of these Autumn festivals on our calendars!
Such rich culture! I live in Germany but I think the Swiss take autumn much more seriously. Thank you for all of this interesting information!