Houston Nutcracker Market Spring announces in-person shopping: Here’s how organizers want it to work

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HOUSTON – The Nutcracker Market Spring said Tuesday that it is planning an in-person event for April 16-18, 2021 at NRG Center.

COVID-19 prompted the cancellation of in-person shopping for both Nutcracker Market and Nutcracker Market Spring in 2020.

“We cannot overstate how excited we are to return to NRG Center and bring back an in-person market for our merchants and shoppers,” said Patsy Chapman, CEO of the Houston Ballet Nutcracker Market. “We have carefully and thoughtfully prepared our plan for in-person shopping with recommendations from local and national experts on reopening protocols. Many aspects of the market will look a little different, but ultimately, the experience of shopping for a great cause is still at the heart of this event.”

To prepare for the event, Nutcracker Market and NRG Park said it is following the guidance provided by federal, state, and local governmental agencies and health authorities, as well as industry guidance from national and international organizations including ASM Global, VenueShield, and CAA-ICON Advisory Services.

“By design, we spread out the layout of the event as much as we can to create a socially distant shopping experience where everyone feels comfortable and safe,” said Chapman. “For example, our aisles will be double the size of the average grocery store aisle. Additionally, we are tracking the exact number of how many shoppers are inside the building at all times to ensure the hall is below capacity. We feel confident about our ability to maintain capacity limits given Nutcracker Market Spring is a significantly smaller show than our November event. We are adamant on following every guideline and restriction to ensure a safe event for everyone.”

Notable changes and COVID-19 protocols shoppers can expect include:

  • Anyone ages 2 and older entering NRG Park property (indoors or out) for Nutcracker Market Spring will be required to wear a mask - no exceptions - and practice social distancing.
  • Event staff will monitor for social distancing and mask-wearing.
  • There will be increased space between booths and significant spacing of the aisles. The average Nutcracker Market Spring aisle will be 24-feet wide.
  • The market will be spread through four halls, as compared to the two halls used for the 2019 Nutcracker Market Spring.
  • NRG Park capacity for shoppers will be limited to 6,500. Staff will keep count of shoppers as they enter and exit the halls.
  • NRG Park will provide enhanced cleaning procedures throughout the day, including cleaning high-touch surfaces and deep cleaning every evening.
  • Hand sanitizer stations will be available.
  • Concessions will be limited. Only when actively eating or drinking, shoppers may remove their masks.
  • NRG Park has upgraded the filters for all air-handling units to high efficiency MERV-13 air filtration system.
  • Many merchants will offer touchless payment options. All concessions will only offer touchless payment options.
  • Health screenings, including temperature checks, will be performed on all persons upon entering NRG Park.

Visit the Nutcracker Market Spring Know Before You Go Page for full details on event health and safety guidelines and policies.

Debuting in 2019, this will mark the third year of Nutcracker Market Spring. Last year’s Spring Market was canceled due to COVID-19. A special Facebook group was created in response to allow merchants to sell their items to shoppers.

While November’s long-running Nutcracker Market serves as Houston’s holiday season kick-off, Nutcracker Market Spring celebrates all things spring and summer – from unique graduation and wedding gifts to everything needed to accessorize for the beach, backyard BBQ’s, and warm weather fun. Shoppers can browse the season’s newest apparel and clothing trends, colorful accessories, gourmet food, cheerful home and holiday décor, and more.

Along with the annual Houston Ballet Nutcracker Market held in November, Houston Ballet Nutcracker Market SPRING is a fundraiser that allows shoppers to give back to the community. Proceeds from admission tickets plus 10% of all merchandise sales stay right here in Houston supporting Houston Ballet Foundation, its Academy and scholarship programs. Given the challenges of 2020, Houston Ballet and Nutcracker Market need the support of the community now more than ever to keep the arts alive, retain its staff, and help getting its dancers back on stage.

Of the 150 merchants on the roster, nearly 50 of them will make their Spring debut in 2021 – this list includes merchants who have previously only participated in the November Market, as well as merchants brand new to the Nutcracker Market family. New merchant offerings include handmade jewelry and whimsical oyster decoupage jewelry dishes by C. Shel Shop, Ettiene Market’s heirloom-quality kitchen goods and gourmet pantry staples, fun and colorful apparel by Jadelynn Brooke, trendy sunglass styles by Smart Choice Sunglasses, boutique shop Bohemian Cowgirl, and much more. Well-known merchants such as Kendra Scott, The Pajama Princess, and Pony Pal Stable are among those branching out from the November event to their first Nutcracker Market SPRING. Regulars to Nutcracker Market can also expect to find fan favorites such as The Round Top Collection, Karma Living, BURLEBO, and The Royal Standard – all stocked with a colorful selection of products to fit the spring and summer feel. Shoppers will browse gift ideas for Mother’s and Father’s Day, graduations and weddings alongside vacation getaway apparel and accessories and home décor for festivities such as 4th of July and Cinco de Mayo.

Market Dates/Hours

April 16-18, 2021

  • Friday, April 16 - 9:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.
  • Saturday, April 17 - 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
  • Sunday, April 18 - 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Ticketing Details

General Admission tickets are good for one-day admission April 16-18, 2021.

  • Tickets go on sale Monday, March 22.
  • General Admission tickets are $18 at H-E-B Business Centers and $20 at Ticketmaster.com and must be purchased in advance.
  • All ticket sales are final and no refunds will be available unless the event is canceled.
  • Due to capacity restrictions, all persons, regardless of age, are required to have a ticket for entry.
  • There will be no onsite ticket sales at NRG Center during the Market.
  • Early Bird Admission will not be available for this event.
  • Strollers, carts, rolling bags and wagons are not permitted inside. There will be a complimentary check-in area in the lobby for these items. Wheelchairs, walkers, and other ADA-approved mobility devices are permitted. Pets are not allowed unless they are certified service animals.

To learn more, call 713-535-3231 or visit www.NutcrackerMarket.com.


About the Author:

Amanda Cochran is an Edward R. Murrow award-winning journalist. She specializes in Texas features, social media news and local crime.