The three of us enjoyed ourselves so much last year in Alpbach for their annual Almabtrieb that I made a point to note the dates for this season, but sadly nothing fit our schedules. Then, fortuitously enough, while thumbing through the lifestyle/culture magazine provided on our public transportation I noted the Almabtrieb near Piber, the Lippizaner Farm. (Yes! Not only is Vienna’s public transportation inexpensive, clean, and efficient, but there is also provided light reading material on the U-Bahn and trams.) A day trip earlier this month was born.

The young Lippizaner mares and stallions spend the summer, June to September, high above Steiermark; the mares at Brendlalm and the stallions at Stubalm, presumably to keep any horsing around to a minimum (pun intended). Being up on the rocky cliffs also helps to train the horses to acquire strong tendons and sure-footedness. In late summer they are brought down, decorated, and paraded through the villages of Maria Lankowitz and Köflach before boarding a special steam train to Piber.

Scenes of Maria Lankowitz


Of course there is food, beverage, and merriment!  Central Europe can whip together a celebration for practically any occasion!


Trachten was everywhere, too. It’s hard not to like Dirndls and Lederhosen.

The guests of honor arrived around noon, with their escorts from Vienna’s Spanish Riding School, and were gathered in the church courtyard for a blessing by the priest.


A short time later, the horses left for Köflach and we, for home.