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Armadillo Christmas Bazaar: A Must-See Austin Tradition

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The Armadillo Christmas Bazaar has a rich history dating back over four decades. Getting its start in the midst of the hot music scene that was Austin in the 1970s, its first venue was the Armadillo World Headquarters. Combining fine art and the quality of music that was known to be featured at this premier live concert venue, it was a unique holiday market format that held its own in a platform known for hosting artists like Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Van Morrison, and Frank Zappa. This year’s event is scheduled for December 13-24 at Palmer Events Center in Austin. As the 43rd annual event, it promises the continued quality of carefully curated artists together with live entertainment from both former stars as well as up-and-comers in the music industry, all featured in an intimate setting.

Armadillo Christmas Bazaar: A Must-See Austin Tradition

Photo: Armadillo Christmas Bazaar

As the Armadillo World Headquarters was known for its out-of-the-box concepts, so too was the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar. Making holiday shopping an enjoyable experience is a challenge in the best of economies, but the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar successfully achieved that, outliving its namesake venue to go on as an annual artistic event that continues to beckon those looking for something new. Born from a concept that Grammy-award-winning Lucinda Williams suggested, the event carried the HQ through its mid-winter slow period while also offering a warm, dry place for local artists to showcase their wares. Now, it continues in its authenticity, producing an event that pairs great food, bar service, fine art, and wonderful live music in an atmosphere that’s both warm and inviting.

Armadillo Christmas Bazaar: A Must-See Austin Tradition

Photo: Armadillo Christmas Bazaar

Now a team of two associate producers and one executive producer tour North American art shows looking for the perfect balance of merchandise to appeal to locals and tourists alike. Their work ensures that the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar draws consistent crowds. Shoppers looking for great aesthetics, different mediums, and unique pieces mingle with music lovers, those looking for a warm social atmosphere, and others still who simply enjoy the concept. This isn’t your grandmother’s Texas craft marketplace. This is an epic balance of inspired art, three-quarters of which is made in Texas (and 50 percent of that is sourced in Austin), together with a range of live music equal in its quality to the products in the venue. Mixed with a setting that allows shoppers to relax and unwind, this event features food and bar options that make it the classic experience it’s become. Plus, shoppers rave about its authenticity!

Armadillo Christmas Bazaar: A Must-See Austin Tradition

Photo: Armadillo Christmas Bazaar

This year’s full musical lineup is provided on the event website (complete with Spotify playlists), but if the following short-list is any indication, the organizers have outdone themselves! Dale Watson, Jackie Venson, the Peterson Brothers, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Gary P. Nunn, and Lou Ann Barton are just some of the phenomenal talent scheduled to play throughout this 12-day event. Set times are slated for 12, 3, and 7 p.m. each day. The opportunity to hear such top names generally comes with a hefty price tag, but for the cost of the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar general admission fee of $10 (or a $50 season pass available online until December 12 only), you can hear some great music and shop the venue. The full artist listing is also available online at the link provided here, categorized in terms of each art medium. Leatherwork, ceramics, body care, wearables, glass, and jewelry are just a sampling of the many art forms made available to shoppers, all of which are detailed online through artist web links.

Armadillo Christmas Bazaar: A Must-See Austin Tradition

Photo: Armadillo Christmas Bazaar

What sets this bazaar apart from the classic Christmas shopping experience is the ability of customers to purchase directly from the artist who created the work. Combined with the two onsite full bars and live big-name music acts, the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar experience makes for a great place to unwind with family and friends while finding the quintessential gift or art piece that speaks to you.

Anne Johnson, one of the show’s associate producers, stated that the event’s mission is to “…create habitual art show goers and art collectors that support artists at art shows year round.” The show does this by continuing to fill its 40,000-square-foot facility with a mixture of new as well as returning artists, featuring high-quality art pieces at varying price points. This means you can find everything from the one-of-a-kind painting you’ll want to feature in your front foyer (merry Christmas to you!) right down to the hand-made stocking-stuffers that no one else has set eyes on before. It really does have something for everyone. And, as Johnson said, it has a unique Austin feel and appeal to it. The event enhances “…the sphere of prosperity around Austin’s cultural identity for the long-term good of the community.” With community in mind and Christmas around the corner, there’s no better time than a night (or two… maybe even three!) at the upcoming Armadillo Christmas Bazaar. Visit the event website for more details on the venue, artists, admission, and parking.