Shop ‘Til You Drop at the Houston Ballet Nutcracker Market

As we approach the holiday season, loyal shoppers on the lookout for unique and meaningful gifts have this weekend circled in red on their calendar. The 38th Annual Houston Ballet Nutcracker Market, which takes places Nov. 8-11, 2018 is not just shopping — it’s a fun, must-have experience, and a tradition for many!

Billed as Texas’ Largest Holiday Shopping Wonderland, this year’s Nutcracker Market is themed “Rockin’ and Shoppin’.” The theme celebrates the fun cultural experience it creates for local shoppers, and because of strong support from the community — including over 1,000 volunteers — the 2018 event is expected to be the best one yet!

This signature holiday shopping event, which takes place at the NRG Center, is a giant one-stop, pop-up shop with more than 280 merchants. You’ll find exceptional gifts for everyone on your list.

With a variety of home décor, clothing, accessories, toys, novelties, ornaments and much more, get ready to shop till you drop. The market also features gourmet food, stocking stuffers, candles, toiletries, pottery and other crafts.

Humble Beginnings

The Houston Ballet Nutcracker Market began in 1981 as a small church bazaar. Now, it has grown into a sprawling, four-day extravaganza that hosts more than 100,000 shoppers (many of whom live in and around the Houston area). It has become the second-largest charity event hosted at NRG Center, covering 540,000 square feet of the venue.

Indeed, it’s become a great way to give back during the holidays, as proceeds from each ticket, plus 10% of all the merchandise purchased, goes to the Houston Ballet Foundation. Nearly $20 million was spent at the Market last year, a quarter of which directly benefitted the Foundation.

Shopping to Benefit Ballet

Patsy Chapman, CEO of Houston Ballet Nutcracker Market, said this an annual fundraiser allows shoppers to give back to the Foundation, its Academy and its Scholarship Programs.

“From small beginnings, this has transformed over the years into a true holiday event where generations of new and experienced shoppers gather to create memories and traditions,” Chapman said. “You can really feel the excitement once you step into the Nutcracker Market, from shopping for unique items with your loved ones, to tasting different food products from around the world, to meeting new friends—the experience is one-of-a kind.”

Because of the funds raised in 2016, nearly 56,000 Houston-area students received exposure to ballet through the Academy’s Education and Community Engagement programs, and 200 students were awarded scholarships to continue their dream of studying dance at Houston Ballet Academy. Also, students from nearly 300 Houston-area schools got to see free programming, performances and classes at Houston Ballet’s prestigious Center for Dance.

Market Hours, Tickets & Info

Thursday – Friday, Nov. 8 & 9, 10:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Saturday – Sunday, Nov. 10 & 11, 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Tickets are good for one day admission (no repeat admission) for $20 each at NRG.

Starting October 15, discount general admission tickets may be purchased at Houston-area Randalls stores for $18. Click here to find a list of Randalls locations.

** No strollers, rolling carts/bags, wagons or pets are permitted inside the Market.


Jocelyn Sexton is a marketing and corporate communications professional with more than 15 years of writing experience. She is a passionate storyteller and has worked in a variety of industries, including a stint in state government where she worked to promote Texas food with the Department of Agriculture. She earned an Executive MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has an undergraduate degree in Journalism-Public Relations from the University of North Texas.

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