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Activities

This bustling Alpine village offers a wide range of holiday activities ideal for families, novices, keen amateurs and professionals – turning every stay into an unforgettable experience.

Engelberg traditions

Traditions and customs are an important part of daily life in Engelberg, and we like to invite our guests to uphold them with us. Our cherished traditions include arts and crafts, culinary specialities, and various special occasions.

Immerse yourself in the stories and traditions around the Engelberg Alps.

 

Alpine farming
Although plenty has changed about traditional Alpine farming since the old days, much has stayed the same. Farmers still place the highest priority on working in harmony with nature, and they still feel a deep connection with and responsibility for the land they farm. Even in the digital age, Alpine farming will continue to be a mainstay of life here in the Engelberg valley. The farmers who graze their animals on the mountainside pastures during the summer help preserve our unspoiled natural landscape.
 


Prayers by megaphone
When a long summer’s day of hard work comes to a close and dusk begins to fall, it is time for the Alpine farmers to make a prayer of thanks to God. To do so, they place an old-fashioned wooden megaphone, which is often lavishly decorated, to their lips and chant a prayer through it in a unique singsong style. These prayers probably date back to the Middle Ages. There are a variety of different wordings, even in the Engelberg valley alone. The wordings and the litany chanted in Engelberg differ from those chanted in Trübsee, just a few kilometres away. In recent years the tradition of this evening prayer has been upheld particularly strongly by the younger generation of Alpine farmers.
 


Coming down the mountain
When the days get shorter and autumn arrives, the sound of cowbells fills the air as the cattle and their herders return to the valley after four months on the mountain pastures. This is a very special occasion in Alpine regions. The procession of cows and herders is an important tradition that is still very much alive today. The impressive display also moves and fascinates visitors. On procession day, the leader cows are decorated with flowered headdresses and lead the rest of the herd through the village, with the juveniles usually bringing up the rear. The herders walk at the front of the procession, full of pride for their happy, healthy cows.
 


Alpine farmer’s fair
For decades, the Älplerchilbi has been one of the most important celebrations in the village, an occasion when the Alpine farmers give thanks for a successful summer grazing their cattle on the mountainsides. The event is part of the general harvest festival. After a thanksgiving service in the Abbey Church, the farmers and villagers get together to eat, drink, dance and be merry. The fair is still an important social event in Engelberg. The women proudly wear traditional Sunday dress, while the men don their elaborately embroidered herdsmen’s jackets. Another Älplerchilbi tradition is the presence of people dressed up as “wild men” – a reference to the untamed heathens who once lived in the mountains. These savages are invited to the fair in return for the help they gave during the summer months up on the mountainside.
 


Bellfounding
Anyone walking across the Alpine pastures above Engelberg will hear a characteristic sound – the ringing of cowbells. For hikers the bells make delightful music, but for herders they are an important tool. They tell the herder where the cows are, and enable lost individuals to find their way back to the herd. Many of the bells worn by Engelberg cows are made right here in the valley. The village has three bellfounders who practise the ancient art. Because each bell is made by hand, each has its own distinctive ring.

Read more about the three Engelberg bell founders in this blog.

 

Folk music
Music has always been important to the population of Engelberg – even when playing music was strictly forbidden by the authorities during some very grim years in the early 17th century. In the early 20th century, Engelberg’s folk musicians began developing their own style of Ländlermusik. In the vanguard was famed composer Franz Feierabend. His compositions are still regarded as particularly difficult to play and to learn by today’s folk musicians. In recent years, young bands have rediscovered a love of local folk music and are ensuring that this wonderful tradition does not die out.
 

 

Cattle shows
Cattle shows are a tradition that is still going strong today, and the Engelberg cattle show is no exception. Here, the cows strut their stuff like models on a catwalk. It’s an occasion where farmers get to talk shop, and they are happy to give expert answers to any questions the laypeople may have. A healthy population of livestock is a crucial part of the agricultural economy in mountain regions like Engelberg, so the shows are well visited, including by non-farmers. The cattle show takes place in the first half of October and is a special occasion and holiday for Engelberg’s farmers.
 

 

Links
Route description Alpine cheese trail
Point of sale
Accommodation / Catering
Portraits Alpine Dairies

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Engelberg-Titlis Tourismus AG

Klosterstrasse 3
Postfach 149
CH-6391 Engelberg

+41 41 639 77 77

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