Best bets for your Houston weekend: Mind-bogglingly massive holiday markets, dizzyingly dazzling light displays and more

Some of the strange and wonderful trinkets spotted at the 2021 Nutcracker Market (KPRC 2)

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Houston, ready or not, the holiday season is returning in full force. Case in point, a smorgasbord of festive events are happening this weekend in the Houston area. Read on for all the details.

Find one-of-a-kind gifts at these festive holiday markets

Some of the strange and wonderful trinkets spotted at the 2021 Nutcracker Market (KPRC 2)

Holiday craft shoppers, you’ve got plenty of options awaiting you this weekend.

Come Thursday, the Houston Ballet’s Nutcracker Market will usher in the twinkliest season of the year. It’s the city’s de facto invitation to cast aside jack-o-lanterns, plastic pumpkins and autumnal décor in favor of tinsel, pine trees and all-things red and green.

What began in 1981 as a humble bazaar has grown into a mind-bogglingly massive four-day shopping extravaganza featuring more than 260 vendors offering an array of oh-so-tempting goodies -- including but not limited to -- gourmet food (think jalapeno peanut brittle, pina colada-flavored rum cake and brisket tamales), home goods, kitchen wares, clothing, toys and, of course, holiday decorations galore. To give you an idea of what to expect, here are few of the the bold, bizarre and bangin’ baubles and odds and ends I loved at last year’s event.

The market will run through Sunday at NRG Center, 1 Fannin Street.

Admission: $20 (cash or check only). Hours: Thursday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Event details here.

Saturday and Sunday, Cole’s Flea Market in Pearland will hold a holiday craft bazaar featuring wreaths, ornaments, holiday gifts, candles, soap, jewelry and more from hundred of vendors.

Cole’s Flea Market is located at 1014 N Main Street in Pearland.

Admission: $3 per car. Hours: Saturday and Sunday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Event details here.

The Bellaire Culture and Arts Board will present its annual Arts and Crafts Festival Saturday at Paseo Park, 5000 Bellaire Boulevard. Nearly 100 local artists and craftspeople will show and sell a wide range of handmade items and small production pieces.

Admission is free. Hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Event details here.

A holiday market will be held at Sawyer Yards Saturday and Sunday. Handmade craft items, antiques, art and collectibles will be among the offerings available.

Admission: $10. Hours: Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Event details here.

Celebrate the season with these festive family-friendly experiences

Galaxy Lights (Space Center Houston)

These festive family-fun experiences are returning this weekend:

The Galveston Railroad Museum will offer its fourth annual Polar Express train ride experience Nov. 11 through Dec. 23.

Passengers are immersed in the sights and sounds of the classic children’s novel as they are whisked away on the Polar Express to meet Santa. Once onboard, the conductor will punch your golden tickets. Then, dancing chefs will serve hot chocolate and treats as passengers read along to the classic children’s book “The Polar Express” by Chris Van Allsburg. During the one-hour experience Santa and his helpers will board the train and give each guest a gift.

Ticket prices range from $30 (Coach) to $100 (Premium), depending on the date and time of the ride. Purchase tickets online here.

Discovery Green’s ice rink will open on Friday and operate through the end of January. Admission is $17 per person and includes skate rental. Planning to take a twirl around the rink? Here’s what to expect this year.

One of the city’s most lavish light displays, Galaxy Lights, is returning to Space Center Houston Saturday with lavish light displays.

The holiday exhibit, dubbed the “most technologically advanced light show in Texas,” will open to the public on Nov. 12, and run daily through Jan. 2.

Galaxy Lights consists of several of indoor and outdoor light displays composed of hundreds of thousands of lights. Some of the displays include a high-tech kinetic light show featuring hundreds of suspended LED orbs that move in choreographed sequences to holiday music, as well as an LED light tunnel, a simulated indoor meteor shower, a massive model of the solar system, and a 40-foot tall,100-foot long shooting star made from LED lights.

Admission is $15.95 for members, $19.95 for non-members and free for children age three and younger. All tickets include admission to Space Center Houston. Purchase tickets here.

Click here for even more seasonal offerings and holiday happenings held around the Houston and beyond.

Need more ideas, inspiration, etc.? Browse our community calendar for even more promising cultural offerings the Houston area has to offer this weekend and beyond.

About the Author:

Briana Zamora-Nipper joined the KPRC 2 digital team in 2019. When she’s not hard at work in the KPRC 2 newsroom, you can find Bri drinking away her hard earned wages at JuiceLand, running around Hermann Park, listening to crime podcasts or ransacking the magazine stand at Barnes & Noble.