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Krampus at the Crags this Christmas

Posted onPosted on 2nd Dec

On the darkest day of the year – 21st December – the ancient caves at Creswell Crags will be visited by a sinister figure known across Europe for punishing bad children at Christmas-time.

Krampus – a name that strikes healthy fear into the hearts of children across Europe, from Austria and Bavaria to the Czech Republic and Hungary – has recently become more familiar in the UK.

Depending on which tradition you follow, Krampus usually accompanies St Nicholas to punish bad children – either by beating them with a stick, putting them in a sack, or giving them coal. A horned figure, usually goat-like in appearance, Krampus has also been the subject of movies and tales.

For the team at Creswell Crags, perhaps more known for its important Ice Age heritage, folklore, fear and superstition have become relevant themes since the discovery that one of the limestone caves is full of Witch Marks – as recently featured on the BBC’s Digging for Britain. In one cave, there are more of these marks, carved to keep away evil spirits, than anywhere else in the UK. No one is sure what the people who made them, over several centuries, were afraid of.

This has opened the door to an exploration of myth, folklore and fear across Europe, to understand where these marks fit. And the Krampus is an important part of that tradition.

Not that the Krampus is coming far to pay the Crags a visit. In fact, there is a successful ‘Krampus Run’ charity event every year in Whitby, and it is from there that the Krampus – and friends – are travelling.

Tickets are on sale now, and this event is not recommended for small children. Visitors will learn more about the Krampus tradition, see inside the Witch Marks cave, and meet the Krampus and his helpers. They will also be invited to stay for a gathering by the fire pit with music, and refreshments available.

In addition to this, if the Christmas preparations have been getting a bit too much, there is a chance to hurl an axe at a target. The Crags will be playing host to Battleaxe, and their mobile axe throwing unit, from Sheffield, all part of the ticket price.

“According to some versions of the myth, Krampus was the son of the Norse goddess Hel” said Nick Pearson of Battleaxe. “As huge Viking enthusiasts this was too good an opportunity to pass up! What better way of celebrating the Winter Solstice than facing off against the shadow of St Nick and hurling axes? Being able to celebrate it at Creswell Crags, with their unique heritage, will make this a celebration to remember.”

“Creswell Crags is a place of human stories, and superstitions, going back to prehistory. It seems appropriate, in this setting, to welcome one of the scarier aspects of Christmas, hosted in a cave full of Witch Marks. We hope with the Krampus, fire pit and axe throwing, to create an event that is very different from most Christmas events but which will bring people closer to some of the traditions of this dark part of the year,” said Rebecca Morris-Buck, Communications Manager at Creswell Crags.

Tickets are available via Eventbrite at £15 per person: