The setting sun throws a golden light on the street as people wander from vendor to vendor, sipping wine, trying new foods and purchasing goods from local merchants. This market will continue well into the the night and include musical entertainment, arts displays and even more food.

The night market, an age old tradition in South East Asian countries where dark nights provided relief from the excessive heat of daytime, are gaining popularity throughout the United States. Traditionally focused around food, the night market offers people a place to gather, eat, drink, and interact without being confined to a bar. Night markets also take advantage of the urban environment, often happening on streets and sidewalks, as well as plazas and vacant lots. They can help add life to areas of town that are either generally less busy, or those that see a sharp decline in street traffic after business hours.

626 Night Market Image source: laweekly.com

Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Nashville are all home to successful night markets. In LA, the 626 Night Market started in 2012 in Pasadena,  has since moved its main location to the San Anita Racetrack expanded to include two more sites in Costa Mesa and downtown LA. The 626 Night Market was modeled after those in Tawian, where creator Jonny Hwang was born. As quoted in KCNETLink article, Hwang sees the markets as a place for community and a place to bring cultures together.

Nightmarket Philadelphia Image source: Philly Homegrown

In Philadelphia, the Food Trust’s Nightmarket Philadelphia serves other purposes. Created by the Food Trust non-profit, an organization who’s mission is to ensure that everyone has access to affordable, nutritious food and information to make healthy decisions, the night market travels from neighborhood to neighborhood throughout the city. According to PA Senator Bob Casey the night market has helped reinvigorate Philadelphia’s neighborhoods while providing jobs to hundreds of local residents.

Image source: Nashville Farmer’s Market Facebook

On the third Friday of every month the Nashville Farmers’ Market hosts a nighttime event that includes restaurants, farmers, arts, crafts and more for visitors to explore. The events usually have live musical entertainment as well as vendors both housed in and visiting the market. Different from other night markets, the Nashville Farmers’ Market has a permanent location that includes a farm and sheds, market house, kitchen and flea market area that is open 362 days a year, rain or shine.

Night markets create a new and exciting environment for residents and visitors to interact while sampling a city’s local food and merchandise, they can help create strong sense of place and energize a sleepy or worn down neighborhood by bringing a vibrant event to city streets.

Melanie Truhn is a full time graduate student in Pratt Institute’s City and Regional Master’s Program. When she’s not biking around Brooklyn she can found in Prospect Park with her pups.