This week the Krampus festivals are going on in Austria and other places in Europe where those old time Pagan traditions still have a foot hold. The following quote will help explain what the hell is going on in these pictures.
All around Innsbruck Krampus runs around December 5th, preceding the festival of St. Nikolaus. The tradition is that St. Nikolaus comes with not just a single Krampus but with a group of up to ten of these devil figures. They are frightening (especially for children) with their horns and terrible masked faces. The Krampus masks (known as Larven) show the artistic dexterity of the hand-carving in the Innsbruck region. A proper Krampus Larve must, of course, have large horns. The carver usually uses the horns of a goat, Ibex or Chamois." - quote source.
Having browsed pictures taken in the past few days as well as the past several years at places like Flickr I've seen some really amazing costumes designed around Krampus and the other creeps that hang with Saint Nicholas. I've posted some of my favorites but there are hundreds more that can be seen in the following photo sets..
1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7
This gallery has group shots of all the Krampus characters taken almost every year across the last 16 years. Check this one out.
Here's a thread from a few years back at Concept Art.org with photos from Miguel Walch who has sculpted some of these masks. Visit his website here to see more pictures.
And a video from one of these Krampus infested festivals.