Salzburg: Krampus Run

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Joaquin’s Christmas Nightmare

The moment we were back in Salzburg from our road trip in the Salzkammergut region, we excitedly headed to Hellbrunn Palace.  Hellbrunn, a summer and recreation palace for the nobility from the 1600s, was one of the venues in Austria for the Krampus run last year.  I planned our itinerary in such a way that we would be able to join the run either in Munich or in Salzburg.  You see, this is an ancient Bavarian tradition during advent, and so we were determined not to miss it.

The krampus is a half-goat, half-demon beast who is said to be Santa’s scary and horrible-looking counterpart.  While Santa gives gifts to the nice kids, the krampus punishes the naughty ones.  The krampus run is believed to have started in the Alpine regions in the 16th century, and now the parades are held in many central European countries.

We initially planned on catching the run at Residenzplatz at the Old Town, but our hotel concierge advised us that the one in Hellbrunn is the highly anticipated run in Salzburg and so there we went.

The parade was joined by over a hundred krampus and lasted for more than 30 minutes.  It was loud, crazy, scary, and fun at the same time. The pictures below would say it all.  BUT, our little Joaquin, who was at first enjoying the festivities, had the fright of his life.  One krampus grabbed and lifted him up, he went screaming for “Help!!!!” Oh poor child.  He had nightmares.  He still didn’t want to see the pictures or videos from the run, he didn’t even want to talk about it.

Here’s a short video of that night.  Towards the end, you’ll hear poor Joaquin screaming. 🙂

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This was the krampus that I found most scary.
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Family selfie while waiting for the run to start
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Waiting for the run

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The palace ground transforms into a charming Christmas market during advent.

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It looked like a fairy-tale scene in the palace.

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We explored the beautifully decorated palace grounds before the run.

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I remember that it felt nice walking here, through the lighted trees in the palace park. 

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Ah this bad bad krampus startled me from behind 🙂 Another one messed up my hair!

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This is Joaquin’s selfie with the krampus that gave him his Christmas nightmare. 🙂

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Too obvious that I enjoyed the run the most?
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They usually walk with a wooden stick or chains to scare the kids.  They wear bells too, I suppose to make their presence known (?)

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After the run, we came back to our hotel and had a late dinner at Pitter Keller. Be warned, the Nockerl dessert that they say is good for two, is actually good for 5! 🙂

Tips from our family:

  1. There is another run at the Residenzplatz. There are also others being held outside of Salzburg.  You may check the schedule and venues here.
  2. It can get really loud, you could see people covering their ears in the video.
  3. It can get scary for the smaller kids.  Our 9-yr old Joaquin wasn’t scared at all, until a krampus grabbed him.
  4. The palace grounds is turned into a charming Christmas market every year.  That night, it looked enchanting.  I think it would be nice to spend an afternoon at the palace park. Check their website here.
  5. Salzburg is big on advent. So check the many festivities in the area before you visit so that you could plan your time. Here’s my favourite website on Salzburg.
  6. Munich also has Krampus run, check their website here.

Here are the other posts on our Munich and Austrian holiday:

  1. Munich: Start of our family’s tales from last winter
  2. Munich: Viktualienmarkt Biergarten
  3. Munich: BMW Museum and BMW Welt
  4. Munich: Theatine Church and Odeonplatz
  5. Munich: Christmas Markets
  6. Munich: Hofbrauhaus Beer Hall
  7. Munich: City Aparthotel München
  8. Salzburg: Birthplace of Mozart and Silent Night
  9. Salzburg: Hohensalzburg Fortress 
  10. Salzburg: Residenzplatz Christmas Market
  11. Salzburg: Salzburg Cathedral
  12. Salzburg: Silent Night 200 at Salzburg Museum
  13. Salzburg: Silent Night Tour by Bob’s Special Tour
  14. Salzburg: Silent Night at Oberndorf and Laufen
  15. Salzkammergut: Road Trip to Hallstatt
  16. Salzkammergut: Christmas Market at St Wolfgang

12 comments

    1. Hahaha Pam! That would be terrible if they did. Their costumes could really be quite scary. My son didn’t even want to see my blog about it. Poor kid. It would have been different if he had not been picked up by a krampus tsk tsk… They said the parades are mostly in the Bavarian region, we were first trying to catch it in Munich but my dates got mixed up, we were standing in the cold and no krampus showed up. Good thing we had the chance at Salzburg. 🙂 My hubby also stayed in Germany in Kiel for a year. No krampus there either.

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