Krampus is a horned, anthropomorphic figure, in Alpine folklore, who during the Christmas season scares children who have misbehaved, assisting Saint Nicholas. The history of the Krampus figure has been theorized as stretching back to pre-Christian Alpine traditions. The Feast of St. Nicholas is celebrated in parts of Europe on 6 December.
On the preceding evening of 5 December, Krampus Night or Krampusnacht, the wicked hairy devil appears on the streets. Sometimes accompanying St. Nicholas and sometimes on his own, Krampus visits homes and businesses.
Unlike North American versions of Santa Claus, in these celebrations Saint Nicholas concerns himself only with the good children, while Krampus is responsible for the bad. Nicholas dispenses gifts, while Krampus supplies coal and the Ruten bundles.
The pair visit children on the night of the 5th December, and Saint Nicholas rewards the well-behaved children with modest gifts such as oranges, dried fruit, walnuts and chocolate whilst the badly behaved ones only receive punishment with birch rods.
Numbers vary, but an estimated 1,000 Krampi, the largest concentration in the world, descend upon Klagenfurt for a parade through the streets that eventually morphs into a party.
That said, the Krampuslauf isn’t all boozy, demon-clad testosterone time. Many treat the event as a costume contest, and the quality of some Krampus outfits is pretty amazing. In addition, many women take to the streets dressed as Perchta, a pagan goddess of Germanic origin; as a result, a Perchtenlauf (Perchta run) is now a standard component of the Krampuslauf.
⇒ About city of Klagenfurt
Most sights of interest can be easily reached by foot. Klagenfurt offers an extensive bus network. Tickets can be bought directly at the bus. The main bus hub is at Heiligengeistplatz (map) in the centre of the city.
Austria is where a Krampus Museum can be found in the town of Suetschach.