I'm looking for a list of small-town festivals in Switzerland. I found a dated site with a lot of listings for 2015 but would like to see lists for 2019. In particular, I hope to find a date for Hasliberg Mountain Festival, which occurs in September. Any suggestions for how to track this down? (Most of the festivals listed by Rick occur in larger towns.)
Are you looking for the Chästeilet ( cheese-sharing festival) at Hasliberg?
They have a Facebook page, stating in 2019 it was on Sept. 14 from 11:00 on. If they keep the same Saturday in September, it would be Sept. 12 this year.
Google " Chästeilet Mägisalp" for more information.
Kay, when googling, knowing the words in the local language helps. In German it is "Fest", and Switzerland has a lot of these.
I couldn't find a mountain "Bergfest" in Hasliberg, but I did find a cheese festival in September, I guess this is what you want.
It appears it is called "Chästeilet", googling for "Chästeilet Hasliberg", I couldn't find any dates for 2020.
Googling for "Käsefest 2020" (= Cheese festival) gave this page: https://www.myswitzerland.com/en-ch/experiences/events/events-search/?rubrik=cheeseandmore
Lots of cheeses festivals, none in Hasliberg. This website allows you to search for other typesof festivals
On the Hasliberg town website is a list of all events in 2020. No cheese or mountain festival: https://www.hasliberg.ch/veranstaltungen/
Sorry, I tried.
I will bet it is the Chästeilet that Kay is looking for. The Google results page has this except from the Meiringen-Hasliberg community website:
"The "Chästeilet" is a traditional festival held at the end of the alpine summer. Experience an unforgettable day at Mägisalp with the alpine farmers, all decked out in their traditional costumes. The wonderful alpine . . ." And there it ends.
I cannot find this language on the actual webpage. The "Event" section for summer is empty. By contrast, there are lots of Winter events listed. So my guess is the summer event schedule is not out yet, but most likely it will be similar to previous years.
The festival is called "cheese dividing" as the farmers gather to divide up the cheese that was made from the cows they pastured in common on the Alps that summer. It sounds like a fun event.
That's a good tip to search with German words. The myswitzerland.com website is where I saw the first indication of this festival but searching with the words Hasliberg and "Chästeilet didn't get me any further than either Chris or Lola. Hasliberg often took me to a ski site, which might be the same as the mountain fest location but there was no info about it. I didn't get to the Hasliberg site that Chris found. I sure appreciate both of you taking the time to search it out. I was hoping to build my itinerary around it but I needed to start making reservations. Maybe we'll bump into it and maybe not!
If you are on Facebook you can search for their page Chästeilet Mägisalp". I cannot post a link because I use an app for Facebook. But there is no date for 2020 there either.
If that is the festival you are hoping to see, and you need to pick a date now to make your hotel reservations, I would say Sept. 12 has a good chance of being the date, or close. My experience with alpine festivals in Switzerland is they tend to be scheduled around the same time year after year. Not the same exact date, but the same calendar position, like "the second Saturday in September."
It wouldn't be the following weekend, the third Sunday in September is the Swiss Federal Day of Thanksgiving, Repentance, and Prayer. And the first Saturday of September seems too early for what is essentially a harvest festival at season's end.
That Facebook site is a great tip, Lola. I should try to search out the different regions in Switzerland for these kinds of things. I agree with you that the festivals are often held on the same weekend every year. I've discovered that with some festivals in other countries. There was a link on that FB page that I followed to the jungfrauregion.swiss. It says that Chäseilet Mägisalp (also referred to as Hasliberg) was held 9/14/19 so that means 9/12/20. Same date for Alpkäsefest auf der Grossen Scheidegg. Unfortunately, we are not very close to either of these areas on 9/12. As nearly as I can tell, we will be in the "tourist" region of Valais and Lake Geneva, staying in Martigny. I'll research that region for fests. (The "tourist" region of Berner Oberland is apparently also referred to as Jungfrau (after the mountain, of course).) Thank you for your help!
The Valais is famous for their "cow fighting" festivals which should also take place in September. I will see if I can find a link.
Also the village of Bettmeralp ( high above the Rhine valley near Brig) has a ceremony at the end of the summer season when they express gratitude to their cows by inviting them to graze in the churchyard. I don't know what the ceremony is called and I never seen it ( we are usually there earlier, like July or August) but this might be worth looking for.
The only cows we have seen around Bettmeralp are the light brown Swiss breed, not the dark Valasian breed which is traditionally used for the cow fights. I guess the light brown ones are pacifists.
Here is more about the cow fights. There were at least four dates in September 2019, including Martigny at the end of the month.
All I can find for Bettmeralp is the "Weekend of Traditions", scheduled this year for Sept. 19-20.
Wow, Lola! You found a lot! I sure appreciate your research help trying to find these festivals. I had seen the term "cow fights" and wondered how those compare to bull fights. I found a YouTube video - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4O3zjzv-4MQ - and saw that they are a little different (cows don't have to fight if they don't feel like it). Unfortunately, none of the cow fights seem to occur on dates in our locations. I'm not sure how keen I am for those except to be surrounded by locals who enjoy it. I did find a wine walk taking place near Martigny on the dates when we're there so we plan to do that (https://www.valais.ch/en/events/events/top-events/vineyard-hike). I am finding that it is easier to search for event if one uses the name for a specific area (i.e., Valais, Jungfrau, Central Switzerland, etc.). I have also found a forum on www.myswissalps.com that has some good insights.
I attended this festival on Friday, Sept. 20 2019 starting from Thun taking a local bus. They had a special shuttle bus for the day, but I forget where I caught it. Afterwards, I walked an hour to Beatenburg to catch the bus back to Thun.
Here’s a link to an older discussion of this topic:
Here are some notes from my last summer’s research about festivals in the French regions and those closer to Lausanne (and thus Geneva)
“Dèsalpe” is French term to search for similar festivals:
Sept 28 1 hour from Lausanne
Sept 28 1.5 hour from Lausanne
Sept 28 1.5+ hour from Lausanne
Oct. 5 50 minutes from Lausanne
All the best,
@fcraymond76....I am ecstatic about your reply! Thank you SO MUCH. The Justistal Chästeilet sounds fabulous AND we will be in BO during that time. Perfect, perfect, perfect! Thank you also for the rest of the tips and links. The link to a former discussion on RS is valuable so I will delve into it. Using the French term of “Dèsalpe” will also be helpful. We are actually staying about an hour east of Lausanne in Martigny so I'll have to map those other locations to see if there are any close by, such as near Chamonix. Thank you for taking the time to write the response. It is VERY much appreciated!
hey hey kay
another option for you. we were in annecy, across border of switzerland, middle of september 2019. heard about this festival and missed it.
retour des alpages
francetravelplanner/rerour des alpages annecy france
annecy is a gorgeous place with the lake and canals, like venice, around the old town. we took a private tour to small villages around the lake, hang gliders soaring right above you and the lake, cows roaming the pastures with bells on. i even bought a real cowbell, since my mom grew up on a ranch in hawaii.
heard so much about this tradition every early october, with the animals coming back from the hills. worth a look even though a little ways away from geneva. enjoy
Mahalo pupule! Thank you for that tip. We're staying in a location in Switzerland close to Chamonix and I had thoughts of going to Annecy as we had to skip it two years ago when we went to France. I'll sure check things out. I LOVE cowbells. We bought one in Bavaria years ago. That sound, oh, that heavenly sound. ~Kay
hey hey kay
back at you, if you do go to annecy, stay in the old village. open market days are fridays and sundays. enjoyed a lunch of fondue, sta at couple cafes for lunch and glass of vino to relax and people watch. we rented an apartment for 6 nights, also check annecy-hibiscus-apartments.com near the train station.
been to a few different festivals and like you i like the small ones.
let the games begin LOL
GO NINERS!!! :)
You’re welcome. I’m glad the information was helpful. The Justistal Festival was a highlight of my trip. The cows depart in small herds with several minutes between them, so some veterans head down to scenic spots just down the road from the cheese distribution area and hang out to watch the parade of departing cows. There is a small café not far from the festival site that offers good views of the cows walking by.
I hope you get to attend some of the festivals. They are a lot of fun. Here is a link to some on-line photos.
All the best,
Raymond....thank you so much for the link to those photos. They will give me ideas for my own! By any chance do you remember how the events unfold? Do the cows come first or does the cheese division? Or, do they occur simultaneously? What time does it start? (I've seen 9 am listed.) To get there before the crowds have built up, when should I arrive? Are there optimal places to watch the cheese division? In one of the photos, I see cars parked on the grass. Can one drive here (we'll have a car)? When you refer to cows walking in the scenic spots, are you referring to more of a forest or alpine background vs. cars and people? Sorry for the picky questions. It helps me get headed in the right direction! Thank you so much for your post!
They distribute the cheese first, so arriving around 9 would let you experience that. The distribution is a bit staggered, so some groups finish before others. Unless you get there early, you’ll have to slowly work your way to the circle to get better views, but I didn’t have much trouble getting good photos. Then people tail-gate, picnic, and socialize. You can buy some sandwiches as well as cheese, bread, desserts from local vendors.
The cows start down the road in the early afternoon so you can enjoy the festival then set up to watch the cows. There is only one small road in, so as you walk in, you’ll notice the mountains and trees in various spots that make good backdrops. In one spot, a young lady in traditional clothing was handing out wine to the cow herders as they walked by, so I took a few photos of that. Since each small herd allows several minutes between the next, you can take photos in one spot and move down the road a bit to photograph the next round. There was one group picnicking on a rock beside the road that gave them a great view.
All the best,
@Raymond....you are awesome!! You are obviously a photographer at heart and in practice. Thank you for the details about the event.