The Krampus Bazaar and Rampage set for its grand finale in Bloomington

Bloomington's final Krampus Night to have more beasts, fire and dark angels
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Posted at 5:09 PM, Nov 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-01 14:46:59-05

BLOOMINGTON — Krampus Night (or Krampusnacht) is not a Christmas event for children who've made it on jolly Saint Nicholas' "Nice List." It's for the naughty ones.

"The nice ones get toys, candy, and treats, but the naughty ones get the Krampus. And the Krampus is the darker sidekick of St. Nicholas. Who, let's just say, punishes the naughty for their bad deeds," Kel McBride, the Head Krampus Wrangler for Bloomington's "Krampus Legend and Arts Workshop," told WRTV.

The mythical and monstrous hairy beast known as Krampus — typically depicted as half-goat, half-demon — pays a visit to naughty children the evening of December 5, the night before Saint Nicholas Day, according to Germanic folklore.

As the legend goes, the "Christmas Devil" comes to punish children who have misbehaved with chains and birch sticks to whip children into shape.

It's a sinister tradition celebrated vastly in parts of Europe — mainly Austria and Germany — with huge parades and festivals that ultimately include costumed beasts marching through city streets, startling people in attendance.

For the last decade, "The Krampus Bazaar and Rampage" in Bloomington, hosted by KLAW, has widely been hailed as the largest Krampus event in North America.

According to event organizers, people have traveled from hundreds of miles away to central Indiana to witness and be part of the festival.

Despite the fame and acclaim, the volunteer-run event is sticking to its promised commitment of 10 years only for the Bloomington Krampus Night.

"We knew it was going to be a substantial investment of time, energy, and money that we were going to put into this," McBride said. "At this point in time, we are out of time, energy, and money."

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'We think of it as a heck of an accomplishment:' Successfully completing a 10-year commitment

One night in December 2011, McBride saw a friend post a video of a significant event in Austria. Later she found out it was a Krampus Festival.

"I started looking at it and watching the videos, and I got super excited and enthusiastic and reached out to a few friends that I've done previous events with and saw if they might be interested," McBride, a Bloomington resident, explained. "Literally, the day I watched that video, that night we committed to 10 years."

KLAW, which is comprised of about 100 volunteers, was extremely busy in 2012 planning their first Krampus Bazaar and Rampage in downtown Bloomington.

McBride says their first event required a heavy load, such as gathering information that included history and logistics. It also needed volunteer recruitment, learning preparation, and gathering materials.

"After we've been doing this for a few years, the crew, again, that's been mostly with us since the beginning, is really good at doing this," McBride said. "So now, it takes a lot less time, but it is very labor-intensive."

Now, KLAW has come upon its grand finale of the largest Krampus Night on the continent.

"We think of it as a heck of an accomplishment," McBride said of KLAW successfully completing their self-imposed 10-year commitment.

"We decided we were going to do 10 years because we knew that all of us were doing this for free. And that volunteer retention is tricky. So with the 10 years that we've been doing this, we have 80% volunteer retention, and it's been lovely to see the community really accept and enjoy it."

The Krampus Bazaar and Rampage had close to 1,000 people in attendance in 2012, according to McBride. By 2018 the event grew to have upwards of 5,000 people in attendance, she said.

KLAW anticipates even more attendees for its final Krampus Night this weekend.

The Head Krampus Wrangler says that there is no chance KLAW would consider coming back for another event of rampaging.

"Even if there was all the money in the world, we don't have time and energy anymore."

Over the last ten years, the Bloomington Krampus Night has been created with the help of around 100 volunteers. Each was volunteering their time, money, and energy.

The 10th and final Krampus Bazaar and Rampage

The Krampus Bazaar and Rampage returns to downtown Bloomington for the final time on Saturday, December 4, starting at 5 p.m. and ending at 8 p.m.

The Bazaar kicks off the evening at Showers Common, located at 401 North Morton Street. Those in attendance will find food vendors, merchandise, arts and crafts, activities, and photo opportunities with the Krampus. Attendees will have the chance to donate a few dollars to get “Naughty” or “Nice” stickers, as well.

Led by St. Nick, the Rampage is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m., where the Krampus, halo-hooping angels, dark angels, flame performers, and more will parade through downtown Bloomington streets.

McBride said those coming to take part in the festivities can expect even more Krampus traveling to Bloomington for the final night. And, of course, more fire.

The Krampus Night in Bloomington is free to attend. Organizers encourage those coming to enjoy the festivities to be fully vaccinated and wear a mask.

McBride says, "more than ever, we are looking forward to those screams of terror and delight."


WRTV Digital Reporter Shakkira Harris can be reached at You can follow her on Twitter, @shakkirasays.