The famous Leonhardifahrt or Leonhardiritt in South Bavaria is a solemn pilgrimage of horses and cattle in early November to honor the patron St. Leonhard
The magnificently decorated four wheeled horse drawn carriages, lead by a coachmen, come from near and far in the early hours and ride the streets and alleys of Bavarian towns.
The pilgrimage called “Leonhardifahrt” in Bad Tölz takes place every year on November 6th in the namesake of St. Leonhard, the patron saint of farm animals. Bad Tölz has one of the most beautiful and famous horse procession.
The journey leads from Tölz Bäderviertel to Mühlfeldkirche. The 80 wagons from Bad Tölz and the surrounding area has each four horses. Tradition dictates exactly how the carriages should be decorated.
The authenticity of the Tölzer Leonhardifahrt is also strongly encouraged and promoted. For example, the wagons are not allowed to use rubber tires, as in some places, but only wheels shod with iron.
Only local people who wear the traditional costume or “Tracht” are allowed to participate. The Tracht, which are Dirndls and Lederhosen, are passed down through generations and is part of the local tradition in the area they reside.
The young women from Bad Tölz enjoy the admiration of the audience and the smiles, that gives joy and enthusiasm from the audience, locals and tourist alike.
This large procession in southern Bavaria has been going on for 162 years. In the past, farmers brought their horses and cattle to the chapel on separate occasions to have their animals blessed. Over time they decided to have them blessed collectively on one day. Since then, the people of Tölz have been celebrating this tradition on a grand scale. The festival begins sharp at nine o’clock with the ringing of the church bells of the Mühlfeldkirche.
The parade follows along the the Isar river and the famous Marktstrasse through the old town of Bad Tölz, and then up to the Kalvarienberg where the towns people and the Priest consecrates with the horses. The path of the parade leads back to the church surrounded by countless spectators. In Bad Tölz, the pilgrimage concludes with the Leonhardidreschen, whipping a horse whip to the ground.
Riding with the carriage to the Leonhardi chapel is a tradition that can be traced back to 1469 of the town Kreuth am Tegernsee
The Saint Leonhard, popularly known as the “Bavarian God” and was originally the patron of the prisoners and a helper in need. He stood by the incarcerated, and according to a saga, many have been set free.
Leonhard lived as a monk in France around the year 500, and died in Noblac near Limoges as the Abbot of a monastery. His grave became a place of pilgrimage. The first Leonhardikirche in the town of Kreuth which is an old Bavarian region, was founded in 1184. Today Leonhard is valued and revered as the patron saint of cattle, especially horses.