Queens Night Market opens for fall season as flood relief fundraiser this Saturday

Scenes from the Queens Night Market opening weekend (Photo by Sharon Medina)

The Queens Night Market is returning to Flushing Meadows Corona Park for its fall season on Saturday, Sept. 18, and will double as a fundraiser to provide flood relief to residents who were impacted by Hurricane Ida. 

The Queens Night is pledging 100 percent of its proceeds from its fall season opener to support flood survivors who are ineligible for or unable to receive FEMA assistance, mostly due to immigration status. 

“While it sucks to fall through the cracks in general, to slip through when your livelihood is on the line because of a natural disaster is a travesty,” said John Wang, founder of the Queens Night Market. “To us, this isn’t a political football. It’s a humanitarian question, and we want to help our friends and neighbors in Queens as much as we can.” 

The Queens Night Market will operate every Saturday night from 6 p.m. to midnight through Oct. 30, when the season concludes with a Halloween-themed event, complete with trick-or-treating and costume contests. 

More than 30 vendors are participating in the fundraiser by donating a fixed amount or pledging a percentage of their profits from the evening’s sales. 

The event will also be asking visitors to make voluntary suggested donations of $5 at the entrance gate on Saturday to support the effort. 

This season features a host of new offerings that include Brazilian cachorro quente, sylheti doi bora & halwa, Indian tandoori barbecue, Taiwanese beef noodle soup, Cuban sandwiches and ropa vieja, and much more. Returning favorites include Burmese palatas and tea leaf salad, Indonesian kue pancong and tahu pong, Peruvian ceviche, Persian crispy rice, Malaysian “ramly” burgers and more. 

Since its debut in 2015, the Queens Night Market has welcomed 1.5 million visitors, helped launch more than 300 brand-new businesses in New York City, and represented over 90 countries through its vendors and their food. 

Due to the pandemic, the event was canceled in 2020 and kicked off to a late start this year in June. 

However, despite some of the uncertainty heading into this season, vendors have been setting and breaking their own sales records, although the $5 price cap on food — with limited $6 exceptions — remains in place, according to Wang.  

“The number of visitors we’re getting isn’t all that much higher than in 2019, but what is different is how long people are staying and how much they’re supporting vendors during their stay,” Wang said. “Outdoor settings have really become oases from this seemingly never-ending pandemic, and I hope the Queens Night Market represents even a small reprieve from the pandemic fatigue we’re all feeling.”

When the Queens Night Market ticketed the first three events of the season to manage expected attendance, the event pledged 20 percent of net ticket proceeds to COVID- and racial equity-focused charities. To that end, $11,000 was donated to Queens-based NICE (New Immigrant Community Empowerment) and Love Wins Food Pantry.

The Queens Night Market strongly discourages visitors from driving to the event. Parking is extremely limited in the area, and city agencies have been increasingly ticketing illegally parked cars around and throughout the park.

For the fourth time running, the Queens Night Market will produce the Alliance for Flushing Meadows Corona Park’s gala fundraiser under the iconic Unisphere in Flushing Meadows Corona Park on Thursday, Sept. 23, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. 

All proceeds directly support public programming and maintenance in the park.

For $50, ticket holders can enjoy unlimited made-to-order food, wine, and beer, courtesy of the following Queens Night Market vendors: Hong Kong Street Food, Bstro, Cambodiannow, DiLena’s, Treat Yourself Jerk Chicken, Cocotaso, The Bois, Nansense, Go Green Yaks!, Arepalicious, Finback Brewery and Monsieur Touton Wine.

Tickets can be purchased at allianceforfmcp.org/gala.

Live entertainment at the gala will include tunes mixed by DJ Rekha, R&B/funk from The Groovalicious Project, and all-female samba reggae drumline Fogo Azul.

“The Queens Night Market has called Flushing Meadows Corona Park home since we launched back in 2015,” said Wang, who is also an Alliance board member. “It’s been a pleasure and an honor to help plan and curate the Alliance’s annual fundraiser under the glow of the Unisphere since the tradition started in 2017.”