‘Tis the season to be beastly: RVA Krampusnacht returns to Carytown

RVA Krampusnacht, an event celebrating the mythical sidekick to St. Nicholas, returns to terrorize Carytown for a second year.

In a festive season chock-full of lighthearted characters like Santa, Frosty, and gingerbread men, one of the last things that comes to mind is a horned, devil-like creature as a symbol of the holidays.

Enter Krampus–and a walk in Carytown (this Saturday, December 6th) dedicated to the mythical beast RVA Krampusnacht.

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Hailing from the Alpine regions of Europe–countries like Austria, Germany, and Switzerland–from a time that at least pre-dates Christianity, Krampus’s exact origins are difficult to trace.

“Lots of different cultures have their own version of him–he’s basically a companion to St. Nicholas that punishes the bad children,” says Nicole Pisaniello, one of the walk’s founding organizers. “You see versions of him in Europe and all of them have different looks.”

The first annual RVA Krampusnacht walk was held last year in Carytown, drawing over 40 participants donning monster-like outfits and masks who banged drums and made lots of noise to make their presence known.

Modeled after the RVA Zombie Walk, creatures of the night start off with a couple of cold ones at Portrait House before making their way down Cary Street to terrorize the masses before, you guessed it, heading back to Portrait House. Those in costume will be entitled to a number of drink specials.

Pisaniello got the idea for the zany event, which she started with cohort Parker Galore, after learning about Krampus in school. What she didn’t realize, however, is that the creature was gaining popularity around the world outside of the textbooks.

“Some friends and I had heard about him in school briefly. Then later I started seeing Krampus [merchandise] online, and Krampus runs in other countries. I thought this could never happen in the U.S., but I decided to start my own [walk].

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Richmond’s walk joins a growing number of cities in the U.S. hosting events. Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, and Philadelphia all have Krampus walks now. Pisaniello says several participants from the Philly event made the trek for RVA’s inaugural walk last year.

Events in other countries are all over the board, says Pisaniello. “Some are more geared towards towards kids, others are just a pub crawl. We wanted to make [the event] true to Europe, but add our own artistic flair.”

To that point, and because of the popularity of last year’s walk, Pisaniello and Galore are adding an art show the night before this year’s event. 25 artists will gather and display their own unique interpretations of Krampus in a variety of media at 9WG Studios on W. Grace Street. The show will coincide with First Fridays.

Later in the month, Strangeways Brewing will host what Pisaniello calls a Krampus-themed “after, after party” on December 20th. Much like at Portrait House, Yuletide creatures will enjoy beer specials.

The 2014 RVA Krampusnacht walk kicks off at 5:30 PM on Saturday, December 6th at Portrait House in Carytown, where a costume contest and review of the rules (including confining the march to the sidewalk) will take place.

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Scenes from the inaugural RVA Krampusnacht walk in 2013


Photo: Dave Parrish Photography

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Trevor Dickerson

Trevor Dickerson loves all things Richmond and manages RVANews’ West of the Boulevard and West End community sites.

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