A chilly winter’s eve, festive sweets, crackling fires, and … children’s screams? At the 10th annual (and last) Krampus Rampage and Bazaar, Bloomington will host an evening winter parade unlike any other, one that delivers a Christmas comeuppance to naughty children and adults alike. On Saturday, December 4, a legion of Krampus will stalk the college town’s streets for the final time.
According to Austrian, German, and Northern Italian legends, Krampus—cloven in foot, horned, and hairy—is a fiendish attendant of St. Nicholas who doles out the wages of a year’s worth of misdeeds with pranks, pokes, kicks, swats, or bad dreams. Bloomington’s event smooths out some of the harshest edges, letting guests choose between wearing a “naughty” or “nice” sticker. If you choose “naughty,” consider yourself in the splash zone during the parade—the Krampuses might even give chase. Wearing a “nice” sticker means receiving gifts of candy from the halo-hooping angels, who are among a rich cast of characters, like St. Nicholas, fire dancers, and the many bad children carted away in cages. After the parade, attendees can shop the bazaar, enjoy treats from the food trucks, or take part in children’s activities, like making a Krampus mask. Despite the event’s scary undertones, kids clamor in delight for a glimpse of their favorite Krampus. Daring adults can attempt a section of the bazaar called Harm’s Way and brave a gauntlet of unruly Krampuses.
After 8 p.m., St. Nicholas loses control over the Krampuses, and the creatures go wild in the streets and lie in wait for unsuspecting passersby. Despite the free event’s popularity, organizer Kel McBride always planned to stop after a decade. This year’s swan song will surely spare no holiday hoopla.
IF YOU GO
The Canopy of Lights around Bloomington’s courthouse square, and Wrapped in Love, a current public art exhibit downtown featuring 60 trees dressed in sweaters.
Polar Beer Kisses, Upland Brewing Co’s seasonal beer, with notes of molasses and vanilla.
Along the Way
Stop by Martinsville Candy Kitchen for old-fashioned hand-pulled candy canes. There are demonstration times, too.