The Armadillo Christmas Bazaar celebrates nearly five decades of holiday shopping in Austin, TX. We are known for our curated collection of art, gifts and live music in a festive, family friendly, entertaining atmosphere. Find last minute Christmas gifts that come from the heart, new art for your personal collection, have a cocktail and tap your toes at this iconic Austin event. It’s the best way to enjoy Christmas in Austin!
The Armadillo Bazaar offers shoppers the opportunity to personally meet local and touring artists. Shop small! Buy from the makers! With nearly 200 curated artists to shop from-this is the holiday shopping destination to find gifts in all price ranges, build an art collection from your favorites as well as find new art to collect. Shoppers have the opportunity to learn about the artists and their work, making a personal connection with the art and supporting the artist community.
Known for bringing out special performances with high quality sound you can’t catch anywhere else, the Armadillo Bazaar stage is an intimate Austin treasure. The diverse line-up represents the best of Austin from classics to new comers, nationally renowned singer songwriters to Grammy winnings acts. Each band plays two full sets. If you can’t make the opening time, come about an hour later for another full set of music! Seating is limited but we encourage you to dance in the aisles while you shop!
With roots in Austin’s legendary Armadillo World Headquarters, the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar is one of Austin’s longest-running art and music festivals. From its humble beginnings in dive bars and music halls to its current 40,000 square feet of pop-up galleries, gift shops, full bars, photo ops, local food from Southside Flying Pizza and an intimate stage you can see and hear all over the show—the Armadillo magic continues to reach long-time fans and newcomers alike. The Armadillo is the home to the National String Off Competition every year, doing our best to keep Austin weird.
Christmas in Austin
The Armadillo Christmas Bazaar’s rich history goes back more than 40 seasons, originating in the very roots of Austin’s legendary music scene. The first venue, The Armadillo World Headquarters (AWHQ), was the premiere concert venue for live music in the 70s. Many local musicians, songwriters, and performers, some of whom are now considered legends, honed their craft there. National touring artists included Willie Nelson, Jerry Garcia, Van Morrison, Bruce Springsteen, and Frank Zappa. The AWHQ quickly became a countercultural institution known for out-of-the-box thinking. The scene around the Armadillo became a powerful magnet pulling in creative people and energy from all over the country, giving Austin the roots of its current attractive cultural identity. This is where the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar was born.
In 1975, Lucinda Williams inspired a fabulous solution to AWHQ’s mid-winter money woes with a simple comment: “Too bad the artists down on the drag don’t have a warm, dry place like this to sell their art for Christmas”. Her comment sparked an idea to expand AWHQ’s cultural and economic reach.
Over the decades since AWHQ closed in 1980, the Armadillo has lived on in 6 different locations, Cherry Creek Plaza, Austin Opera House, Austin Music Hall, and Austin Convention Center before finding a home at the Palmer Events Center in 2010. Along the way, the Armadillo grew in size from 8,000 to 44,000 square feet and now showcases work from over 160 artists. Now with at least 3 bands a day, Armadillo is also considered a music festival, featuring musicians with local Austin flavor such as Shinyribs, Ruthie Foster, and Ray Wylie Hubbard.
The Armadillo attracts many types of visitors; including collectors of fine art and live music fans from around the world. Most importantly the Armadillo is a tradition celebrated by generations of locals.
Producer Bruce Willenzik, started the Bazaar at AWHQ, and now works alongside Annie Harding and Anne Johnson. The team takes great care in selecting and nurturing the careers of artists and curating the show to ensure an attractive merchandise mix. Through continuous improvement, the Armadillo creates the best environment for artists to learn and teach while they advance their career. In doing so, the customers have a special place to meet talented artists and add to their art collection.
“This philosophy of community, enhancing a sphere of prosperity and a commitment to art and music, are what makes the Armadillo the best of Austin’s ‘weird’ and wonderful. Armadillo will continue to be the place for an authentic Austin live music and art buying experience, where creativity, originality, and fun are celebrated in the true spirit of the holidays. The long-term future of the show has been secured. Anne Johnson will take over the show for the next 40 years, and will pass it down to future Armadillo generations.” -Bruce Willenzik
“We are proudly different. Our mission, vision, goals and processes are different because we are trying to do more than just be an art show. We believe in the cultivation of our artists. In every detail of the production, our mission: to enhance the sphere of prosperity around Austin’s cultural identity for the long-term good of the community is considered. Our goal is to create habitual art show goers and art collectors that support artists at all art shows, recognizing that art enhances life. We are proud to curate this collection of cultural heritage and eagerly share it with the community.” -Anne Johnson