Krampuslauf Zinzinnati is a group formed in 2014 to bring the tradition of Krampus to the holidays in Cincinnati in a family-friendly, maker-friendly, community-building way. We have been invited to bring Krampus to many events in the last few years, including Fountain Square during Cincideutsch Christkindlmarkt since 2014, as well as at Germania Christkindlmarkt in 2016, taking pictures with and informing the public about the details of this eccentric bit of German holiday culture.

NOTE: We do not try to scare children!
Our purpose is cultural education and keeping this German tradition alive.
(Most kids want their picture taken with Krampus!)

Krampus (or several Krampuses) and his handlers can be found strolling through holiday events around the Cincinnati area. Feel free to talk to us, take pictures with us, and let us tell you more about this centuries-old tradition.

You can find out about our upcoming events and appearances on our Facebook page.

Who is Sankt Nikolaus?

Before we can talk about Krampus, we need to discuss St. Nick. The American Santa Claus (who first appeared in the 18th century), as well as the British Father Christmas (17th century), are derived in part from Saint Nicholas, who was a Greek bishop in Turkey around the 4th century. The saint is revered for his miracles and his legendary habit of secret gift-giving. The feast day of Sankt Nikolaus is observed on December 6, and he is welcomed by large crowds in public squares and at Christkindlmärkten.

Who is Krampus?

On his feast day, St. Nikolaus is accompanied by Krampus when visiting people in Bavaria and Austria (as well as Bavarian-speaking regions). Legend states that Krampus punishes bad children during the Yule season, and even captures particularly naughty children and carries them away to the woods. The creature has roots in Germanic folklore; however, its influence long ago spread far beyond German/Austrian borders, and across central eastern Europe.



The Krampus figure stretches back to pre-Christian Alpine pagan traditions, but by the 17th century Krampus had been incorporated into Christian winter celebrations. Krampus was popular until the early 20th century, however the Krampus tradition has seen a resurgence near the end of that century, and his popularity continues to increase, now spreading around the world.



Hollywood, in addition to getting most of the Krampus legend wrong, also has spread a very poor pronunciation of the word.  Krampus is pronounced “krohm poo s” as in “con & puss,” NOT “kram-puh s” as in “campus.” Hear the proper pronunciation.


In addition to being the Eve of Sankt Nikolaus day, December 5 is known as Krampusnacht (Krampus Night), in which these hairy beasts appear on the streets.  Traditionally young men dress up as the Krampus during the first week of December, and roam the village frightening children with rusty chains and bells.  Sometimes accompanying St. Nikolaus and sometimes on his own that night, Krampus visits homes and businesses throughout town.  St. Nikolaus dispenses gifts to good kids, while Krampus supplies coal to naughty children.

A toned-down version of Krampus is a very popular part of Christkindlmärkten in urban centres like Munich and Salzburg.  In these tourist-friendly and child-friendly interpretations, Krampus is more humorous than fearsome — although many of the more popular events have become quite a wild spectacle.



There are many names for Krampus, as well as many regional variations in portrayal and celebration.  A Krampuslauf (Running of the Krampuses) is a fun run or walk of celebrants dressed as the wicked beast, often fueled by alcohol – it is customary to offer a Krampus schnapps! (hint, hint)  The tradition resurrects an ancient ritual meant to disperse winter’s ghosts.

(The Krampuslauf in Graz, Austria, is one of the largest in the world.)

Join us!

Do you like to dress up? We’re looking for a few good beasts… get in touch with us!

Krampuslauf Zinzinnati is always looking for people to join our group and help out. If you want to dress as Krampus, we have experienced costumers that can help you get your own costume put together.

Or, if you just want to hang out with a fun group of folks and help, we ALWAYS NEED handlers to assist at our events and appearances. Handlers help Krampus interface with the public, facilitating photographs, handing out our educational materials, and explaining the Krampus tradition to the folks we encounter at our appearances.

Please mail us at info@cincykrampus.com

You can also join our Facebook Group, Krampusausschuss Zinzinnati (Cincinnati Krampus Committee) where we discuss our plans, organize our events, and share new Krampus-related info that we find. Please, only ask to join this group if you are interested in actually participating in our events and helping with the organization.

We always have a great time and often hang out before or after our events. We’d like to grow our group to have many more Krampuses and be able to hold our own events, not just appear at other events. Join us and help spread the legend of Krampus!