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What to Know Before You Go to Nutcracker Market

I’ve shopped ’til I dropped on several occasions at the Nutcracker Market. It’s such a fun shopping experience, and I’ve learned the ins and outs at this point, so here’s my expert’s guide to the sometimes overwhelming, but always fun event!

The basics

The 39th Annual Houston Ballet Nutcracker Market will be held at NRG Center from November 14-17, 2019. Starting October 21, participating local Nutcracker Market merchants will be selling tickets including Pomp and Circumstance, the BLVD, Pie in the Sky Co., China Baroque, Melinda’s Boutique, Michael’s Cookie Jar, One Hip Mom, The Royal Standard, The Roundtop Collection.

It’s $20 CASH for general admission tickets at the door, but you can already buy tickets at Ticketmaster and Randall’s for $18.

  • Market hours are:
    • 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.

For more information, visit or call (713) 535-3231.

Why go?

Eleven percent of merchandise sales and proceeds from admission and special event tickets support the Houston Ballet, its Academy and scholarship programs.

And if you’re nonplussed by the charitable opportunity, know that these vendors (view here!) are from ALL OVER, so you’ll never find all these peeps under the same roof again during this holiday season.

Lastly, it’s pretty darn fun!

Get there early (or go late)

The crowds are NO JOKE, y’all. You can get early bird access by calling 713-535-3231 (you gotta do this before Oct. 31!).  It’s a pro move — esp if you’re in a I-hate-people mood, or live in that mood always.

If you’re OK with the crowds and not OK with the $$$, you can actually get HALF OFF tickets starting three hours before closing of each day. Sometimes going late means you miss the crowds. But inventory *might* be low — just remember that.

Parking and pregaming

It’s $15 per car to park, so carpool if possible. Use MetroRail or Lyft if you can’t be bothered. (Last year, Lyft had a deal to get $10 off with the code “NUTCRACKER” — I’d try that if you’re looking to rideshare.) I actually know a group of women who rent a limo, and that sounds like the most fabulous start and end to a day full of shopping.

Speaking of fabulous, I know another group of women who actually tailgate before the Nutcracker Market. Like, starting at 7 am. It’s no joke. Donuts, tacos, bloody mary’s and mimosas. What a pro move.

If you’re thinking of just pregaming with coffee, know there’s a Starbucks IN NRG center. It’s pretty great, but there will be a long line. You can also wait until you’re inside and get a mimosa… 😉


Make a list and check it twice, Santa style. If you’re going for gift buying, make sure you know who you’re buying for. It can be overwhelming when you’re in there, and you’ll totally get too distracted to remember who you were supposed to buy gifts for and suddenly you’ve got nothing for Grandma. Rookie mistake.

If you’re shopping for yourself, you might also want to make a list of what you want.

Another pro tip is to research what stores are there and, more importantly, WHERE they are. I hate when I completely miss a store I like because basically I didn’t see it.

Bring cash and come hungry

It’s 2019 and all the vendors are going to have card readers. However, you can drastically reduce your transaction time (and manage your budget) a little easier by taking cold hard cash in.

One of my fave things to do at the Nutcracker Market is taste allllll the samples. Plus, the food sold is pretty darn good. My mom and I usually get baked potatoes, which totally reminds me of Rodeo season.

This post originally ran in 2018, but has been updated with 2019 information.

3 thoughts on “What to Know Before You Go to Nutcracker Market

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