The Armadillo Christmas Bazaar is Back — with a Twist

The Austin institution, which began in 1975, is inside for the first time since COVID

Courtesy Armadillo Christmas Bazaar

For nearly five decades, the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar, one of Austin’s iconic traditions, has combined fine art with a stellar lineup of local musicians, and this year, the event has added a new twist: a second stage, which will feature more intimate performances by up-and-coming artists and solo acts.

The main stage, the Armadillo Stage, will continue to feature favorites and legends (think Ray Wylie Hubbard, Maria Ball, Gary P. Nunn and Ruthie Foster), while the new addition, the Stage Side, will offer the likes of Miggy & Tje, Sheridan Reed and Henri Herbert.

This is the first time the event has been held indoors since COVID, having been canceled in 2020 and moving outdoors for a three-day festival — amid chilly temperatures and some precipitation — last year. The Palmer Events Center will again host the bazaar.

The seven-day event will run from Dec. 17 to Dec. 23.

Nancy Coplin, who’s been booking the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar for more than three decades, says she’s excited that Nunn is kicking things off this year. “What better way to begin,” Coplin enthuses, “than to showcase the man whose famous ‘London Homesick Blues’ includes the line, ‘I wanna go home with the Armadillo?’”

Nancy Coplin

Coplin and a small committee of event organizers begin planning each year immediately after the bazaar concludes, leaving some slots open in the event a performer emerges during the year who’s enjoying local buzz. Usually by October the lineup is set. “It’s not difficult to sell the event to artists,” Coplin notes. “It’s been around so long, it sells itself. It’s a nice thing to have on your resume.”

Gina Chavez, an event favorite, will play on opening day, Dec. 17, at 5:30 p.m. on the Armadillo Stage (Courtesy Armadillo Christmas Bazaar)

Attendees enjoy an eclectic mix of performers and genres, but one thing they won’t hear — even at a seasonal event like this — is a set of Christmas songs. “I tell the performers to play a typical set,” Coplin explains. “This is a showcase for them, and I want them playing the music they’re most comfortable with, not Christmas music.”

The schedule this year is divided into three slots per day, with performances on the Armadillo Stage at noon and at 5:30 p.m. and on the more intimate Stage Side for the middle slot, at 3:30 p.m. Tickets are $12 for a day pass and $47 for a season pass. “People come far and wide,” Coplin says, “just to hear the music.”

Here’s the schedule. Find more information at the event’s website.

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