The sixth annual Krampusnacht, or Krampus Fest, will take place on Mon., Dec. 6 with a free concert in Downtown's Market Square, along with other activities celebrating the nightmarish holiday ghoul.
Krampus is a horned, anthropomorphic figure from German-speaking Alpine folklore. The creature is said to punish kids who misbehave during the holiday season — the true opposite of Santa. Krampus has been celebrated in places like Lienz, Austria, where each year crowds gather for the Krampus Parade, during which costumed Krampuses "dash through the streets, chasing giggling children and adults alike, poking them with sticks and scaring some with the realization that they were naughty this year," according to a Smithsonian Magazine article.
Once an obscure, little-known figure in the United States, Krampus has become increasingly more popular here. There was even a big-budget horror movie about Krampus released in 2015.
Mark Menold, the creator and organizer of the event, says he started Krampus Fest about eight years ago with the band Sleigher. He explains that the band dresses up in "goat-like Krampus costumes and sing holiday carol lyrics over hard rock and metal music.”
While the concert is a big draw, there is even more to the fest. Guests dress up as Krampus as well, and there are photo opportunities with Pittsburgh Krampus.
“At Krampus Fest in Market Square, there are a handful of people who show up in Krampus costumes who join the band in an impromptu parade that looks very much like the way it’s done in Europe,” Menold said. “They dance in the street rattling chains and cowbells looking scary and silly at the same time."
Menold adds that Pittsburgh Krampus also does "Santa’s lap" photos, although this year, due to concerns related to COVID-19, they plan to play it safe with a "no-touch ‘photobomb’ booth.”
Menold says he believes people enjoy Krampus Fest so much because it’s different, free, and “a short burst of fun that’s over by 9:30 p.m.”
He says the current Market Square Peoples Gas Holiday Market, which is meant to resemble a quaint European village, makes for an "awesome setting" for this event.
Additionally, there will be Sleigher Krampus Band T-shirts for sale, this year online rather than in person.
“Sleigher has some new songs and has added the fastest guitar player in the city to their ranks,” Menold said. “It’s really something to see. And did I mention it’s free?”
Krampus Fest. 6-9:30 p.m. Mon., Dec. 6. Market Square, Downtown. Free. All ages. Search "Krampus Fest in Pittsburgh 2021" on Facebook