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Centuries of crafting tradition

Traditional crafts in the Holiday Region Interlaken

Traditional Swiss crafts have a long tradition in the Holiday Region Interlaken. Locations such as the School of Woodcarving in Brienz still teach traditional crafts to this day. These crafts centre around natural materials such as wood, linen or leather.

  • Manufacturing of local products and souvenirs

  • Traditional crafts are still being taught and passed down to this day

  • Materials are used that are naturally occurring in the Holiday Region Interlaken

  • You can even have a go at a traditional Swiss craft yourself

  • Private tours to individual specifications

Interlaken – a holiday region rich in Swiss crafting tradition

In the Bernese Oberland, people have always turned to their natural resources. Wood from the forests of Habkern is transformed into alphorns by the Bernatone company. Heinz Tschiemer and his family really know how to make wood sing. In the mountain village of Habkern, Heinz tells visitors to his workshop about the fascinating process of turning a tree trunk into Switzerland’s national instrument. In Brienz too wood has always played an important role. The School of Woodcarving is the only institution in Switzerland that provides training in woodcarving.

Founded in 1884 as the “Schnitzlerschule Brienz” (Brienz School of Woodcarving), it offers training in the following professions

  • National Certificate in Woodcarving

  • National Certificate in Woodturning

  • National Certificate in White Coopering

  • National Certificate in Basket Weaving and Wickerwork

  • National Certificate in Coopering

Woodcarving in Brienz and the Diemtigtal Nature Park

As well as the “Schnätzi” (as the School of Woodcarving is affectionately called), Brienz is also home to a violin making school, which was founded in 1944. It’s the only specialist violin making school in Switzerland. The Finkel family also make violin bows from their workshop in Brienz. In Brienz, you can buy a pretty wooden souvenir from a specialist woodcarving shop. A visit to the Huggler Woodcarvings shop, where you can watch the experts at work, is a must.

Ballenberg Open-Air Museum

Kutsche fährt vorbei an blühendem Garten mit Blumen im Freilichtmuseum Ballenberg

Hofstetten bei Brienz is home to the Ballenberg Open-Air Museum, where you can gain an even deeper insight into the world of traditional Swiss crafts. More than 30 Swiss crafts are practised here, some of which were previously thought forgotten. Come and watch the experts at work, as they carve, weave, spin, shingle roofs and practice their craft at the forge.

The art of Simmental carpentry in the Diemtigtal Nature Park

Ein traditionelles Holzhaus im Sonnenlicht auf dem Diemtigtaler Häuserweg

The Diemtigtal Nature Park also boasts a lively tradition of Simmental carpentry. Cycle along the Diemtigtal House Trail and marvel at the splendour of these traditional houses. Straight away, you’ll notice the house’s symmetrical frontages and the intricately carved decorations adorning their façades. And did you know that none of the Simmental houses in the Diemtigtal Nature Park have any shutters? The people in this valley really do live in harmony with nature.

Cattle drives in the Bernese Oberland

Every year, the cows, goats and sheep of the Holiday Region Interlaken bask in the warmth of the alpine summer, which begins with their ascent to the pastures (Alpaufzug) and ends with their descent (Alpabzug). On the Alps, the finest goat cheese, whey cheese and alpine cheese is produced from June to September. Visit the Holiday Region Interlaken and join in the celebrations.

Traditional cattle drives

Kinder und Älpler laufen mit Ziegen und Kühen durch das grüne Suldtal

The Suldtal cattle drive is an eventful affair: the herdsmen lead their lavishly decorated animals into the valley, which hosts a market selling fresh alpine produce to mark the occasion. In Bönigen, one descent features 150 goats, which parade from the Küenzlen-Alpiglen into the valley; in another, the cows parade from Küenzlen-Läger to Bönigen. An enduring highlight of the Bönigen cattle descent is the “Chästeilet”.

Käse wird von Älplern auf Holzbrettern aufgetürmt umgeben von Zuschauern

A further cattle descent takes place in Iseltwald, where the herdsmen lead 60 colourfully adorned animals from Iseltwald via Bönigen to Goldswil. More events are held in Beatenberg and Justistal. In Justistal, a traditional “Chästeilet” (cheese dividing) event has held before the cattle descent every September since 1739. Today it’s believed to be the oldest “Chästeilet” in all of Switzerland. The ceremony begins at 11.00h and ends at noon. The cattle descent starts around 14.00h.

Winemaking on Lake Thun

The first reference to winemaking on Lake Thun was in 994. To this day, grapes are still harvested and wine is still made in Spiez, Oberhofen and Hilterfingen. Wines from the Bernese Oberland gain their distinctive character from the alpine climate at 600 metres above sea level. Take a stroll through the region’s beautiful vineyards and find out more about alpine viticulture on an educational trail in the Spiez vineyard.

Traditional shops and crafts

Craftspeople such as the fourth generation cutler Manfred Schoder in Thun love receiving visitors at their shops. Throughout the Bernese Oberland, there are numerous craftspeople, all practising traditional professions. There is a sawmill in Leissigen, a woodturning workshop in Habkern and a pottery and bell foundry in Uetendorf. In addition, the waters of lakes Thun and Brienz are also fished by professional fishermen. High-quality, authentic products are highly prized in the Holiday Region Interlaken.

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