5 min

Swirling snowflakes. Waltzing flowers. An enchanted journey complete with a plucky heroine, dashing prince and gracious fairy.

For many ballet fans, the holiday season wouldn’t be complete without a visit to The Nutcracker. The perennial favorite sees families return year after year to the Land of Sweets as an essential yuletide tradition.

“It’s about creating that full experience, about creating an entire event around The Nutcracker.”

Miami City Ballet’s lavish production, which features more than 100 dancers, typically performs in the company’s three home cities: Miami, West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale. So when scheduling conflicts eliminated the latter as an option in 2022, staff knew they needed to find a creative way to ensure Fort Lauderdale audiences could still participate in the holiday cheer.

They partnered with Brightline, a passenger rail service that connects the three South Florida cities. Fans can buy an all-in-one package that includes the performance and round-trip train travel from Fort Lauderdale to either Miami or West Palm Beach. They can even book a car to the station, eliminating any need to drive.

Costumed characters from The Nutcracker enjoy snacks aboard the Brightline train to promote a partnership with Miami City Ballet.

Costumed dancers enjoy snacks during a train ride to promote the partnership between Brightline and Miami City Ballet.

The fun starts before the train departs, with special Nutcracker events planned at the station. During the 40-minute trip, passengers with premium tickets enjoy food, drinks and character greetings.

Anne Mortomore, a young woman with long, brown hair and a birthmark on her forehead, smiles directly at the camera

Anne Mortomore

“It’s about creating that full experience, about creating an entire event around The Nutcracker,” says Anne Mortomore, Director of Marketing, Digital and Content at Miami City Ballet. “It doesn’t start and stop at the venue. When you take the train, you might see the Sugar Plum Fairy; you might see the Nutcracker. You might have a station where you’re creating ornaments. Maybe you have some hot chocolate while you’re there and meet some of the dancers. It’s a full expression of what the holidays are.”

“We are putting the characters and the dancers in our audience’s spaces.”

The Tessitura and website purchase process are seamless. Ticket buyers don’t have to worry about separate train and show bookings. They choose their smart or premium train ride at the same time as their performance date and seat location. Once they make their selections, their confirmation and follow-up emails include instructions for logging into their Brightline account to grab their train tickets.

The ease of the transaction and the bundle’s convenience proved immediately appealing. Within just a couple of weeks of the August launch, Miami City Ballet had sold more than 100 travel and ticket packages. To date, they've sold 424 bundles, 72% of them to first-time buyers. The company surpassed its total revenue goal for this year's Nutcracker production prior to opening night.

Clever videos, shared through social media and email, even made the promotion go viral. The videos help potential buyers imagine the event from start to finish. “You see the Nutcracker taking the train, grabbing coffee at the station,” Anne says.

Connecting these iconic characters to neighborhood locations also reinforces the company’s commitment to its Fort Lauderdale audience. “We’re reaching out and going into their communities so we can let people know that Fort Lauderdale is still important to us,” Anne says.

Miami City Ballet videos showcasing the Brightline partnership helped make the promotion go viral.

“We are putting the characters and the dancers in our audience’s spaces. Everyone loves to see it,” she explains. “What we’ve done is take the dancers out of the context of where you might see ballet and put them in the audience’s spaces. They can see that ballet is for everybody. Ballet is for you. Ballet is for your kids. Ballet is for your grandparents.”

“They can see that ballet is for everybody.”

Anne says it’s been fun to observe the ways people interact with the video content and show excitement for ballet. It’s helping the company be part of a larger cultural conversation.

“We’ve just opened a TikTok, and it’s not very full yet,” she says. “But we have a video of the Mouse King scurrying through the train station. Some of the comments are not ballet related at all. People are like, ‘Oh, that Mouse King’s got somewhere to be.’ And that person probably has never seen anything to do with ballet, but it piqued their interest, right? So, we’ve got them cracking open the door, and maybe they’ll come.”


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