Austinites are lucky as the holidays roll around. The city is brimming with creatives, yes, but also organizers who make sure these artisans can get their products in front of as many people as possible. No one takes this as far as Armadillo Christmas Bazaar, back again this December 17-23.
More than 200 artists — the most the event has ever curated — will gather for the shopping portion of the bazaar, many of whom carry wall art, pottery, and wood crafts. Much of the variety comes from different styles of similar arts, but there are outliers on the roster: The Austin Museum of Popular Culture will be there (presumably selling collectible posters or museum experiences), along with Crysalis Hammocks, Got Toys, Latika Beauty, and Luna Tigre Candles, to name a few.
The bazaar has been around so long that this year’s featured artist represents the second generation of a family’s work at the festival. Caya Crum, from Fort Worth, went to the bazaar for “nearly a decade and a half” with her parents, and this year created the original marketing materials for the event. Although the streak is impressive for a single family, it’s just a portion of the event’s history, which started in 1975 when country singer Lucinda Williams lamented that artists would not have a comfortable place to sell wares for Christmas.
Shoppers have the other half of the bazaar to look forward to as well, with live performances by two dozen local musical acts. Highlights include Latin Grammy nominee Gina Chávez, longtime Texas songwriter Ray Wylie Hubbard, rockabilly guitarist Rosie Flores, and one of Austin’s more recent breakouts, Sir Woman.
In 2022, the bazaar adds a second stage, turning this annual live music celebration into something more like a festival. A press release promises an “even more intimate music experience” at the second stage, called “Stage Side.” Revelers can stop at the full bar or the “mobile honky tonk,” Hello Trouble Hall. This year is also the first time the bazaar is held indoors since 2019, and the first season that allows online buyers.
“The Stage Side will feature up-and-coming musicians and solo acts ... some of which have never played the Armadillo,” said booking agent Nancy Coplin in a press release. “For 33 years, I have had the honor of booking the music for this iconic event. We are so fortunate to be able to showcase both Austin music legends and upcoming artists who are rising stars. I am very excited that we are kicking off this year’s event with Gary P. Nunn, whose famous song ‘London Homesick Blues’ resonates the spirit of the Armadillo World Headquarters with the line, ‘I wanna go home to the Armadillo.’”
Producer and general manager Anne Johnson pointed out, “It’s the best live music deal in town…$2.25 a band is hard to beat anywhere! No other festival in Austin gives you more value for your money.”
The timing of the Christmas Bazaar also overlaps the majority of Chanukah, which starts on December 18. (It also ends on Festivus … just saying.)
Tickets ($12 for the day, $47 for the season) are available at armadillobazaar.com. The sale and festival takes place at the Palmer Events Center from December 17-23, 11 am to 8:30 pm.