The Queens International Night Market: The Complete Guide

••• Charles Sturges

Do you want to taste hard-to-find foods from the Far East and Europe? Would you like to sample culinary curiosities and delightful delicacies from Latin America and Africa? All at one place, no less?! No need to buy a plane ticket: Simply head over to the Queens International Night Market, in Corona, Queens! Imagine packing 50 episodes of Anthony Bourdain and Andrew Zimmern TV shows into one evening, and you’ll get a good idea of what this unique epicurean experience is like.

Kicking off on April 22, 2017, the Night Market returns to the parking lot of the New York Hall of Science in Flushing Meadows Corona Park for its third season. Excitement and visitation has steadily grown since the foodie-friendly event's launch in 2015, and this year promises even more eclectic offerings of delicious and exotic foods, artisanal crafts, games, and live music. Here’s everything you need to know about making the most of the Queens International Night Market.

What is the Queens International Night Market?

It's an annual, seasonal, open-air night market that features about 45 to 50 food vendors, merchandise and art for sale, activities, and performances, including live music.

Who organizes the Queens International Night Market?

Night Market organizer John Wang, a former corporate lawyer, took inspiration from the night market culture of Taiwan, where he spent many childhood summers; this personal passion carried over to his adult travels, when he would opt to visit worldwide local markets to immerse himself in different cultures.

Borrowing from those experiences, Wang wanted to create something that “approximated the amazing energy and vibrancy of the night markets around the world, but also leveraged the unparalleled diversity found here in NYC and Queens as a bridge across cultures.” The “ultimate dream,” as Wang puts it, is “to attract visitors and feature vendors from every country represented here in NYC.”

When is the Queens International Night Market held?

The market is held on Saturday evenings, from 6pm to midnight. The 2017 season runs on Saturdays from April 22 through August 19; followed by a six-week break for the U.S. Open tennis matches and the Maker Faire, which are held nearby. The season then picks up again on September 30, running until October 28.  

Where is the Queens International Night Market held? How do I get there?

The Night Market is held at the parking lot behind the New York Hall of Science in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, in Corona, Queens.

There is limited public parking available, so the event planners strongly advise that visitors take mass transit.

By subway, market-goers can take the 7 train and get off at the 111th Street stop. From the station, walk south for four blocks on 111th Street (the numbers of the avenues should increase as you walk south), pass under an overpass, and you will eventually see the New York Hall of Science building on the edge of Flushing Meadows Corona Park, at the corner of 111th Street and 45th Avenue. The Night Market is located in the lot behind the building . . . just follow the crowds, the noise, and the mouthwatering aromas.

Do I need to buy tickets for the Queens International Night Market?

No, the Night Market offers free admission, with the exception of the first two events on April 22 and April 29. Those two nights will not allow walk-ins but instead are requiring advance tickets, in response to the overwhelming attendance on previous years' opening nights, when train stations were jam-packed and the sidewalks/streets were gridlocked. This is being done out of respect for the surrounding community and, according to the promoters, at least half of the proceeds from ticket sales will go to local charities. Those tickets will cost $5 per person, and should be available on the Queens International Night Market website by mid-March.

How much money should I expect to spend at the Queens International Night Market?

Affordability was a top priority when the Night Market concept was designed; hence, there is a general $5 price cap on all food items.

This year, some vendors will be allowed to sell at a $6 price point in cases where their profit margins are “razor-thin." Organizer John Wang is very conscious of responsibly balancing the budgets of the market visitors with the economics of the vendors who are, as he says, “the real stars of the Night Market.” Rest assured that the event will remain affordable and family-friendly: You won’t find $35 foie gras popsicles here.   

Note that food vendors are generally cash only, but the merchandise/art vendors usually accept credit card payments; there is normally an ATM on site.

Will I see the same Queens International Night Market vendors as last year?

Although the vendors for the 2017 season haven’t been finalized yet, Wang is shooting for a 50/50 split of past vendors and new vendors. Some of those confirmed to return are the popular sellers behind the Burmese palata, Trinidadian shark sandwiches, and Romanian chimney cakes. And new arrivals should include some stands dishing out exciting Indonesian, Barbadian, Nigerian, and Puerto Rican fare. But that’s just a small “taste” of what’s to come: Wang promises more updates as they approach opening night in late April.      

Do the Queens International Night Market vendors change from week to week?

Unlike some other markets, Wang does not force vendors to commit for the entire season, so it can vary from week to week. “There are usually at least one or two new vendors each week,” he explained. If a vendor’s dish is in high demand, we predict that you will see that vendor regularly.

How long should I give myself for a visit to Queens International Night Market?

Keep in mind that the Night Market offerings go beyond food. This year will see the return of the popular beer/wine garden, as well as the addition of new games, activities, and live performances. With the friendly and social outdoor environment, great food and drink, cool bands, engaging performances, and all kinds of fun... you might just find yourself spending the entire evening here. And that’s certainly OK – it is a Night Market, after all!