The tradition of Krampus processions dates back many centuries in Tirol. The region's towns and villages play host to wild ceremonies in early December as local men dash through the streets dressed as these fearsome half-goat half-demon characters. In Central European folklore, Krampus traditionally accompanies the friendly Saint Nicholas, who brings presents to children who have been good throughout the year.
With their heavy costumes made from real animal hide and their intricately carved masks depicting fearsome devils and demons, the Krampus figures which roam Tirol in early December are truly intimidating. Processions, known as "Umzüge" or "Läufe", take place throughout the region. Things are particularly wild in East Tirol, where young local men take on the Krampuses in a test of strength and courage known as "Tischziachn". Groups of six to eight men sit behind a heavy wooden table and must try with all their might to prevent the Krampuses from turning the table upside down. In Tarrenz, on the other hand, things are less rough but still well worth a visit thanks to the beautifully decorated masks, some of which are over 100 years old. Each procession has its own unique features. In Rattenberg, for example, the Krampuses bang fuel canisters as they march through the narrow streets. So what is the meaning behind this tradition? It is said that the devilish characters come to drive away the bad spirits of winter. We have put together a selection of some of the best and most spectacular Krampus processions in Tirol.