Nutcracker Market 2019: What you need to know about this year’s signature Houston shopping event

The 39th annual Houston Ballet Nutcracker Market returns to NRG Center November 14-17.
The 39th annual Houston Ballet Nutcracker Market returns to NRG Center November 14-17.

HOUSTON – The 39th annual Houston Ballet Nutcracker Market returns to NRG Center November 14-17.

Before you head out for opening day, here is what you need to now:

Want the scoop on a market sneak peek?

The Nutcracker Market Preview Party is set for 6:30 p.m. Nov. 13 at the NRG Center, where guests will have the first chance to shop the booths, all while enjoying cocktails, buffets, live entertainment and an exclusive wine pull and Kendra Scott jewelry pull.

If you buy a ticket to this preview event at regular price, you'll get another ticket free. Your preview party ticket gives you repeat admission to the market the rest of the weekend. Call 713-535-3231 to purchase, through Nov. 8, and be sure to mention the offer, which is valid for $250-level tickets only.

More than 260 merchants from across the country will showcase their unique gift items, including home décor, gourmet food, apparel, toys, candles, jewelry, novelties, accessories and more.

“Seeing the excitement on shoppers’ faces as they find that perfect gift and witnessing how it brings people together in the holiday spirit is one of the most wonderful aspects about the Nutcracker Market,” said Patsy Chapman, CEO of the Houston Ballet Nutcracker Market. “The opportunity to discover new merchants brings a special excitement to the Market - our shoppers know there are unexpected finds just waiting around every corner.”

The Houston Ballet Nutcracker Market has grown from small beginnings as a church bazaar, to now the second-largest fundraising event at NRG Park. This year’s theme, Clara’s Dream, was carefully selected by Market chairman, Sara Wright Parr, and pays homage to the Market’s namesake – creating a scene reminiscent of the beautiful Nutcracker Ballet - and, of course, plenty of shopping.

Now in its 39th year the Houston Ballet Nutcracker Market is an annual fundraiser that allows shoppers to give back to the Houston Ballet Foundation, its Academy and scholarship programs. Eleven percent of all merchandise sales, plus the proceeds from admission and special event tickets, stays in Houston supporting the various programs of Houston Ballet and its Academy.

With the funds raised in 2018, organizers say 70,236 Houston-area students were exposed to ballet through the Academy’s Education and Community Engagement programs, $942,870 was awarded to approximately 246 students this past season to continue their dream of studying dance at Houston Ballet Academy, and students from nearly 368 Houston-area schools and community centers got their first opportunity to see ballet and hear from dancers through free programming, performances and classes at Houston Ballet’s Center for Dance.

Of the more than 260 merchants, 23 will make their debut at this year’s Nutcracker Market. New items include custom made dolls, sustainable clothing crafted from Alpaca fleece, bar accessories, authentic hair toppers and extensions and handmade personalized salt dough Christmas ornaments – just in time for the holidays. Shoppers can also expect to see returning favorites that have been participating in the Nutcracker Market for 25+ years, such as frozen Texas pecan toffee and other delightful treats from Susie’s South Forty Confections, gourmet tamales from Texas Tamale Co., hickory smoked meats from Bear Creek Smokehouse, handmade needlepoint stockings and gifts from Village Traditions, educational and imaginative toys from Houston’s own Imagination Unlimited, plus the 25th appearance of the ever-popular Houston Ballet Nutcracker Boutique.

On October 21, General Admission tickets go on sale at participating Houston-area Nutcracker Market merchant stores. Special event tickets (Wells Fargo Preview Party, Saks Fifth Avenue Fashion Show and Luncheon, Macy’s Fashion Show and Luncheon), Early Bird and group General Admission tickets can be purchased now by calling 713-535-3231.

MARKET DATES/HOURS Thursday - Friday, November 14 and 15, 10:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m. Saturday, November 16, 10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. Sunday, November 17, 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

GENERAL ADMISSION Tickets are good for one-day admission during November 14-17, 2019. No repeat admission. - $20 each at NRG Center - Discount tickets available at Ticketmaster beginning August 12 - Discount tickets at Houston-area Randalls beginning October 21 - Discount tickets available at participating local Nutcracker Market merchant stores - Reduced-price admission is available daily, three hours prior to closing - Group Rate: Groups of 20 or more will receive a $2 discount off regular admission price by calling 713-535-3231 in advance - Children under 5 are free - For more ticket information, visit

EARLY BIRD Tickets are good for repeat admission all four days and early 8:30 a.m. admission Thursday and Friday. - $50 each by calling 713-535-3231 in advance or at NRG Center starting at 7:30 a.m. on Thursday and Friday. There is a check-in area near the entry for strollers, carts, rolling bags and wagons as they are not permitted inside. Wheelchairs and walkers are permitted. Pets are not allowed.

SPECIAL EVENTS Special event tickets are good for repeat admission all four days and early 8:30 a.m. admission on Thursday and Friday.

Saks Fifth Avenue Fashion Show and Luncheon Featuring the Saks Fur Salon Pop-Up Shop Thursday, November 14, 10:15 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. Tickets start at $150

Macy’s Fashion Show and Luncheon Featuring the Macy’s Fragrance Pop-Up Shop Friday, November 15, 10:15 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. Tickets start at $150 For more information about tickets, call 713-535-3231 or visit

About the Author:

An Edward R. Murrow award-winning journalist, Amanda Cochran is a Houston transplant from New York City who has embraced her new city with both arms -- living and breathing news and all things Texas.