What you need to know about the Houston Ballet Nutcracker Market

HOUSTON – Over the last 37 years, the Houston Ballet Nutcracker Market has grown to become a holiday kickoff tradition for many area families.

The market offers things like home décor, ornaments, novelty items, toys, clothing, food and more.

It is considered one of the largest holiday markets in the U.S.

If you’re thinking about making a trip to the market then here are some things you should know:

Just how big is the event?

That depends on how you measure it. The market encompasses more than 500,000 square feet of shopping space, has more than 280 merchants, and saw about 100,000 shoppers last year. The bottom line: it’s big.

What are the days / hours?

The market runs from Thursday, Nov. 9, to Sunday, Nov. 12. General admission hours are from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. There is an early-bird admission period from 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Thursday and Friday.

What about tickets?

General admission tickets can be purchased for $20 cash at the market or for a small discount online. At this point, early-bird tickets can only be purchased in person for $50 cash.

Is there any way to get cheaper tickets?

There is. If you arrive three hours before the market closing for the day, you can get in for half-off ($10 cash).

Is there a cost for parking?

Yes. There is plenty of parking available at NRG Park, but the cost is $12 per vehicle. Organizers note peak traffic hours are from 9 a.m. to noon and suggest arriving between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m.

Families are welcome, but you should know…

Strollers, wagons, rolling bags, and carts are not permitted inside the market. Plan accordingly.

The whole market is one big fundraiser.

Proceeds from each admission and special event ticket plus 10 percent of all the merchandise bought goes to the Houston Ballet Foundation to use for its academy and scholarship programs. Since the market began, that amount totals about $53 million.