The Twelve Bars of Christmas

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The Twelve Pubs of Christmas (popularly known as TBOX, which stands for Twelve Bars Of Xmas), is an annual pub crawl held in Chicago, Illinois, United States, since 1996.[1] The event now draws tens of thousands of participants annually.

The first known origins of the Twelves Pubs of Christmas dates back to 1991 when Gary Lavin and Paul Sheehan, proprietor of Sheehan's Bar, Chatham Street, Dublin, Ireland, introduced the first crawl with about seven friends including David Wall, Michael McGill, Cormac Kissane, Robert Kennedy, Paul Kilmurray Victor Costello and Ozzy Conboy. This then became an annual event and over the following years was attended by a number of Irish rugby team members (Brian O'Driscol of note) and Ken Doherty the world snooker champion. The event was subsequently documented by Dermot Hayes of the Evening Herald who attended the event one year and who chronicled the crawl. From then on there became many copycat events all over Ireland and then the Twelve Pubs of Christmas spread internationally.


The original rules of the twelve pubs were:

1 you must select a drink you will drink for all of the pubs, this cannot be changed.
2 You have 15 minutes in every pub to finish your drink unless otherwise specified by a nominated person.
2a Each bar gets a nominated person. This person can nominate the 'skull' anytime before the 15 minutes is over. You must then finish your drink within 60 seconds of the nomination. (Be careful here, it's a marathon no a sprint)
3 you could not eat on the crawl... eating is cheating! (Penalty ensues)
4 you cannot talk to any member of the opposite sex on the crawl (penalty ensues). Even if she was serving behind the bar (notes usually suffice here)
5 No throwing up (penalty ensues)

The penalty for breaking any of the rules was an additional stinger had to be drunk in the next pub. A stinger was a mix of one shot of crème de menthe and one shot of brandy.

More recently the rules have been adapted and the wearing if Christmas jumpers evolved.


The event is held in the Wrigleyville area,[2] and has changed theme each year. More than 40 bars participate, and some have been known to have more than 40 kegs in anticipation. In 2008, TBOX attracted 6,700 participants.[3] The event gained national recognition in 2010 after becoming the unofficial largest pub crawl with over 10,000 attendees.[4][5] The name of the event is a playful spin on The Twelve Days of Christmas. The event is distinguished by its 8 am start time and encouragement of participants to dress in elaborate holiday-themed costumes.[6][7] The proceeds of the $1 entry fee for the 2010 event in Memphis, Tennessee, were donated to the Humane Society of Memphis & Shelby Country.[8]

The first TBOX was created in 1996 and is still run by Christopher Festa and the company Festa Parties with continued support through 2011 by Jess Loren. The festival grew over the years, and gained fame through big name partners and sponsorships. Sponsors have included Miller Lite, Effen Vodka, Jägermeister, Sailor Jerry, Jim Beam and American Harvest Vodka.[9] A portion of the proceeds from the event go to helping local and national charities,[10] and has provided local area businesses with economic support, being either the highest grossing day of the year, or second only to St. Patrick's Day. In 2012, the TBOX is billed as one of the largest and most spectacular events in Chicago, with more than 22,000 paid participants. The TBOX 2012 theme was TBOXOPOLY, to celebrate the 17th year of this annual gathering.[11] The charity partner was The Hope Foundation.[12]

It was announced on August 31, 2013, that the TBOX2013 event will be produced as a benefit for Lakeview Pantry, a food bank and hunger assistance center in the Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago, which Festa Parties has donated cereal to throughout 2013.[13] The company has also produced an annual Mardi Gras pub crawl event each February since 2009 known as BeadQuest[14]


  1. ^ "TBOX: TBOX, The Wrigleyvilly Christmas Bar Crawl". Cheeky Chicago. 2010-11-26. Archived from the original on 2012-07-24. Retrieved 2012-08-24.
  2. ^ TBOX World's Largest Pub Crawl in Wrigleyville, Chicago, IL Demotix News. Retrieved 2014-5-12
  3. ^ TBOX Time! Chicago Tribune. 2009-12-07. Retrieved 2014-5-12
  4. ^ "12 Bars of Xmas: Back to the Minors". Archived from the original on 2012-09-10. Retrieved 2012-08-24.
  5. ^ "Twelve Bars of Christmas (TBOX) & Drink Deck Chicago this Saturday!". Drink Deck. 2010-12-08. Retrieved 2012-08-24.
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Twelve Bars of Christmas Pub Crawl". Memphis Flyer. Retrieved May 12, 2014.
  9. ^ "Home Of TBOX | 12 Bars Of Xmas, Twelve Bars of Christmas, Pub Crawl, Chicago » TBOX: Festa's Chicago Twelve Bars Of Xmas Pub Crawl". Festa Parties. Retrieved 2012-08-24.
  10. ^
  11. ^ 12 Bars of Christmas The Orlando Sentinel. 2012-12-13. Retrieved 2014-5-12
  12. ^ 14th Annual TBOX in Chicago by Festa Parties PRLog. Retrieved 2014-5-12
  13. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-07-28. Retrieved 2013-09-02.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  14. ^

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