Each year, The Houston Ballet Nutcracker Market welcomes thousands of local in-the-know shoppers to NRG Center. Now, the beloved shopping extravaganza has had to pivot in the face of COVID-19.
The in-person market, which was set for November 11-15, has been canceled and will move to an online event for the 2020 holiday season, organizers announced on September 16. The 2020 Virtual Nutcracker Market will launch on November 11, offering shoppers a new way to kick off the holiday season, support their favorite merchants, and contribute to Houston Ballet, according to a press release.
Opening day of the Virtual Market, November 11, will be Wells Fargo Early Bird Day. Early Bird access is $30, and shoppers will get first dibs on all the incredible merchandise, plus exclusive Early Bird Day-only offerings including discounts, promotions, and giveaways. Early Bird shoppers will also receive continued access into the Virtual Market every day through December 11.
Nearly 200 merchants have signed on to participate, including fan favorites such as Two Tequila Sisters, Sassy Cups, and Copper Kettle Popcorn. Newcomers include Boone Branch, The Incredible Christmas Place, and Parker & Hyde, according to a release. Shoppers can expect the market to run on a dedicated platform November 11 through December 11.
Starting on November 12, all shoppers will have free access to the Virtual Market and can enjoy continued access through December 11. Eleven percent of all merchandise sales, plus the proceeds from Early Bird Day, supports the various programs of Houston Ballet, its Academy and scholarship programs.
Online shoppers will be able to shop merchants from across the country, showcasing unique holiday items, home décor, gourmet food, apparel, jewelry, toys, accessories, pet items, candles, and more. This is a change from the Virtual 2020 Spring Nutcracker Marketplace, which was accessible via Facebook.
“Despite our best efforts, there simply was not a feasible way to host a safe event at the level that our merchants and shoppers expect and deserve,” Patsy Chapman, CEO of Houston Ballet Nutcracker Market, said in a statement. “While we remained hopeful for our event to continue as planned, this is the best decision for the health and safety of everyone involved. With that said, we are very excited about reimagining Nutcracker Market as an online shopping event and we hope our shoppers and community will join us virtually to experience this beloved holiday tradition. Continued support during this especially difficult time is greatly appreciated by everyone involved with Nutcracker Market, including our wonderful merchants and Houston Ballet Foundation.”