WITH ANNE JOHNSON, ASSOCIATE PRODUCER AND GENERAL MANAGER
The Armadillo Christmas Bazaar will run 11am-10pm daily from December 14-24 at the Palmer Events Center.
HOW DID ARMADILLO GET STARTED?
The Armadillo Christmas Bazaar’s rich history goes back more than 40 seasons, originating in the roots of Austin’s legendary music scene. The first venue, The Armadillo World Headquarters, was the premiere concert venue for live music in the 70s. National touring artists included Willie Nelson, Jerry Garcia, Van Morrison, Bruce Springsteen, and Frank Zappa. The HQ quickly became a counter-cultural institution known for out-of-the-box thinking. This is where the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar was born. In 1975, Lucinda Williams inspired a fabulous solution to The HQ’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.”
HOW IS ARMADILLO DIFFERENT FROM OTHER ART FESTIVALS IN AUSTIN?
The Armadillo is a mix of fine art and gift shopping where customers can buy from the artist who created the work. We have two full bars and live music with big acts—dancing in the aisles is welcomed! It’s an experience like no other and the perfect place to enjoy the holiday season with family and friends.
“Too bad the artists down on the drag don’t have a warm, dry place like this to sell their art for Christmas.”
HOW DO YOU CHOOSE THE ARTISTS AND MUSICIANS THAT WILL PARTICIPATE?
Bruce Willenzik (Producer), Annie Harding (Associate Producer) and I take great care in selecting artists, nurturing their careers and curating the show to ensure an attractive merchandise mix. For musicians, it is a careful selection of long loved and up and coming performers.
WHAT GIVES ARMADILLO ITS “AUTHENTIC AUSTIN FEEL?”
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.
WHAT IS ONE OF YOUR FONDEST MEMORIES OF ARMADILLO?
I’ve spent every Christmas Eve of my life at the Armadillo so there are so many memories…my favorite of which is having 4 generations of my family at the show with my 89 year old grandmother, who could barely walk, dancing with the lead singer of the Christmas Eve band in 2009.
It wouldn’t seem like Christmas to me without it. What’s great about Armadillo is that you have many families attending for decades now, yet it’s a perfect holiday shopping event for visitors and tourists as well. It is one of the few ‘old Austin’ traditions that has remained strong the influx of festivals and the city’s rapid growth. As Austin has grown, so has our vibrant fine arts and live music community, and we are proud to be a part of that. Plus, everyone loves a good party.
HOW WILL ARMADILLO EVOLVE IN THE FUTURE?
We are continuously evolving! We plan to be around for a very long time and to pass the show down to future generations for the benefit of Austinites. 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.