By Sadef Ali Kully
More than 3,000 visitors came to the first opening night of the Queens International Night Market on 168th Street in downtown Jamaica Saturday.
The large open-air night market features over 50 independent vendors selling merchandise, art and food as well as small-scale cultural performances and entertainment, all celebrating the rich cultural diversity and heritage of the city and borough.
The food came from all parts of the world, ranging from West Indian shark sandwiches to bubble tea. The activities included giant Jenga and temporary tattoos. Visitors can find anything from clothing, to pots and pans, to kebabs on a stick.
“Almost 90 percent of the food is $5 or slightly above,” said John Wang, founder of the Queens International Night Market.
Almost two years ago, Wang left his career as a corporate attorney in Manhattan and traveled around the world. During his travels, he realized that the city lacked night markets, usually open from sunset to sunrise, which are popular in Southeast and East Asian regions of the world.
Wang said he spent his Saturdays in downtown Jamaica before choosing the location for the Queens International Night Market, which was first held in April in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.
The vendors and Wang did not know what to expect.
“There is so much foot traffic during the day, but it tapers down during the night,” Wang said about downtown Jamaica.
“The vendors were pleasantly surprised at the turnout,” he said. “It changed the perception of the area. There are so many opportunities.”
Wang said he wants the night market in Jamaica to end with a large Halloween celebration.
“We want to have a huge Halloween bash—hoping it doesn’t rain or snow, of course.”
The Queens International Night Market will be open every Saturday until Oct. 31 from 6 p.m. until midnight at 90-02 168th St. It is located one block east of the Jamaica/165th Street Bus Terminal and the closest subway stations are the 169th Street stop on the F-train and the Jamaica Center Parsons/Archer stop on the E-train.
In partnership with the Greater Jamaica Development Corp. and Jamaica First parking, $3 parking will be available for night market visitors directly across the street in the parking lot between 168th and 169th Streets.
To see the complete list of vendors and activities, visit www.queen
Reach Reporter Sadef Ali Kully by e-mail at skull