Okay, so maybe we don’t have the best nightclubs or live music venues. But if you want shop for socks and dine on stinky tofu under a summer evening sky, Metro Vancouver is the place to be.
Night markets are rife all over the Lower Mainland. These aren’t just small, weekend pop-ups like you find in Toronto. These are fairground-size extravaganzas with hundreds of vendors that run every weekend the entire summer long.
In downtown Vancouver, the new Plaza of Nations Saturday Night Market opens this weekend. It’s organized by the same group that runs the Shipyard Friday Night Market in North Vancouver, a huge hit last summer with its 20 food trucks and local craft beer garden.
The Surrey Night Market is back for its second year at the Cloverdale Exhibition Grounds. And in Richmond, there is not just one, but two, huge dueling night markets.
The Richmond Night Market is the busiest, largely because of its location near the Bridgeport Skytrain station. If you don’t have a car, all the better, because traffic typically comes to a standstill within a three-kilometer radius.
But the International Summer Night Market, located behind the Home Depot at No. 3 and River roads, is the biggest with more than 30,000 visitors every weekend.
Rated one of the top four night markets in the world by Travel & Leisure magazine, this jam-packed fun fair is home to some of the finest junk merchandisers and god-awful sing-at-thons outside Hong Kong.
Need a plastic cell phone cover? There are thousands on display. We once bought a very ugly purple mop at this night market that lasted a whopping three weeks before the plastic squeegee fossilized into rock.
What would a night market be without street food? The expansive food-stand market with more than 60 vendors is one of this venue’s biggest draws. It’s a dire culinary wasteland bound to leave you with a bad case of indigestion. But that’s half the fun!
So if you’re a glutton with a hankering for deep-fried anything and greasy bits skewered on a stick, the International Summer Night Market is your Shangri-la. To get those tastebuds watering, we’ve gathered a sampling of the market’s most innovative and iconic (and potentially stomach-churning) fare. Eat at your own risk.
Which of these dishes are you most excited to try? Let Vv Magazine know in the comments below, or tweet us @ViewtheVibe.