It’s Christmas in Texas. And, that means it is time for the annual Armadillo Christmas Bazaar. The bazaar opens its doors this week for some old-fashioned downhome fun and then some. If you have never gone you should plan to attend this family-friendly event. It is also a perfect venue for a girl’s day out or couples holiday shopping trip. But, it only happens once a year. So, get planning. This year it runs from Thursday, Dec. 14 to Sunday, Dec. 24. Located in the heart of the city at the Palmer Events Center, the doors open every day at 11 a.m. and close at 10 p.m.
If it is your first time attending the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar, be prepared. This 11-day fine arts and music festival is a long-standing Austin tradition. But, it is anything but traditional. It is more in keeping with the infamous “Keep Austin Weird” slogan. After all, where else in the U.S. are you going to find a Christmas bazaar named after an animal whose name means “little armored one”? The answer is nowhere.
The history of the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar
This original Austin mainstay blazed the pioneer trail when it debuted over 40 years ago. And, as they say, it is still going strong today. At the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar fine art and live music comingle and cohabit together. But, that wasn’t always the case. First, came the music—it started out in the Armadillo World Headquarters (AWHQ), at the time it was the “third coast” premier concert venue in Austin. Local musicians and song-writers, and well-knowns to the live music scene such as Willie Nelson, Van Morrison, and Frank Zappa played the stage. However, breaking the mold is what it’s all about in Austin. And, that is just what they did.
In 1975 AWHQ opened their doors to Austin street artists so that they could sell their creations in a warm place during the Christmas season and help improve their own financial wallet. It proved to be a winning combination. Over the next 40 years the bazaar grew, changed venues, and prospered. There were six different locations. With each move, the venue growing in size—from 8,000 square feet to over 44,000 square feet. As the word spread, talented artists from all over the country wanted to participate. Now, over 160 award-winning artisans vie for an 11-day spot in one of Austin’s premier festivals.
The bazaar is one of those events where you’ll definitely find unique one-of-a-kind gifts for everyone on your list. Or, maybe you’ll discover a hidden treasure to grace the halls or walls of your Travisso home. One thing is certain—there are a lot of interesting things to look at.
Music, art and shopping!
Just like everything else in Austin what makes this Christmas bazaar a standout event is the live music. The musical lineup is impressive. With the rare blending of musical styles and talent the Armadillo Christmas bazaar covers it all. From Honky Tonk, to Americana, to Rockabilly to Soul, to Country and Blues, there’s punk too. Three bands are scheduled to take the stage daily. Check the musical lineup page on the website for a listing of artists and times.
Then there’s the shopping which includes gifts for everyone on your list. You’ll find an interesting assortment of handmade originals including jewelry, leather goods, original art paintings, ceramics, clothing, and photographs.
Eat, drink and be merry too!
While listening to live music you can also enjoy some great grub from two Austin area restaurants and order a cocktail. The Armadillo Christmas Bazaar’s full-service bar is open daily.
Tickets are $8 at the door for a one-day pass. For $60 you can buy a season pass and attend all 11 days. Kids under 12 are free. To save some time purchase your tickets online.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!