Visiting a haunted house in December isn’t for everyone. If the thought of mixing psychopaths and demons into the holidays offends you, remove Krampus: A Haunted Christmas from your seasonal to-do list.
If, however, you hate the endless stress of gift-buying, if you loathe the fact that Christmas decorations go up before Halloween is over, or if you simply crave something non-traditional in this overbearing time of traditions, you'll want to join the crowds at Krampus. The attraction is located in the space that holds the 13th Floor Haunted House in October, and builds on many of the same scenes, adding Christmas lights, Santa hats and snow.
In the lines waiting outside (bundle up), you'll even find the same carnival-like atmosphere, although Christmas classics are now blasting through the speakers and the trivia screens show a burning fireplace with the Krampus logo. There are seasonally relevant face-in-hole boards for outside photo opps, but you’ll get a chance to pose with a towering, hunchbacked Krampus on the inside, too. (Pro tip: Purchase fast-pass tickets if you’re concerned about standing in the cold for a long time; we arrived a few minutes after the doors opened at 6 p.m. and waited about thirty minutes in the general-admission line.)
Inside, our trip through 13th Floor's winter horrorland was punctuated by lots of dramatic, mystical music, with real snow falling, stockings hanging everywhere, and presents stacked to the ceiling. There were also live nutcrackers, talking toys and even a particularly graceful ballerina.
But we also spotted a creepy Santa, lots of heckling elves, and a wicked reindeer waiting for us in the tilt room. We walked through a haunted Christmas village and encountered a nun who'd suspended illuminated Christmas bulbs midair. All of the characters seemed pretty upbeat and jolly, but in a mad, possessed kind of way. While it did get old being asked over and over again if we’d been naughty or nice this year, plenty of actors had more creative lines, asking about Jack Frost or Santa and his milk and cookies.
The transformation from Halloween to the Christmas holiday theme provided some humorous pockets of comic relief hidden amid the horror, including an alligator who’d been converted into a reindeer with antlers and a red nose, and a Christmas tree that stood up and chased us.
While I recognized certain elements from my October visit, like the trippy mirror maze and the vulnerable swamp room, with everything thoroughly decked out for Christmas, the experience was completely new and thrilling. We were in and out in under fifteen minutes, but any Halloween enthusiast yearning for respite from the holidays will find a visit to Krampus: A Haunted Christmas totally worth it.
Krampus: A Haunted Christmas opens at 6 p.m. on Saturday, December 15, at 3400 East 52nd Avenue. Tickets are $27.99 to $47.99 online (prices increase by $3 at the door); for more information, call 303-355-3327 or go to 13thfloorhauntedhouse.com.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.