Asian-style summer night markets are a summer tradition in Vancouver and throughout the Lower Mainland. Typically open on weekend nights and holidays from mid-May through mid-September, these summer night markets are massive affairs, attracting thousands of visitors per day and featuring hundreds of food vendors and discount retailers, as well as live entertainment.
There are three summer night markets in Greater Vancouver: the Chinatown Night Market in downtown Vancouver's Chinatown (the smallest night market), Richmond's International Summer Night Market and the Richmond Night Market (reopened in 2012 after a four-year hiatus). Both Richmond night markets are located about 20 minutes south of downtown Vancouver.
What to expect at the Richmond Night Market & International Summer Night Market
There are two main draws to any Greater Vancouver summer night market: the food (!) and cheap, discount goods. Food stalls line the way at all three night markets, serving a variety of Chinese/Japanese/Korean/Asian favourites--like freshly-grilled squid, pork sui mai, and Osaka balls--as well as fairground fare like sno-cones, twirled potatoes, and sweet waffles. For most visitors, its the food--as well as the night bazaar atmosphere--that make these markets a must-see.
Richmond Night Market
Where: 8351 River Rd, Richmond BC
When: May 17 - October 14, 2013
Open hours: Friday & Saturday 7pm - 12am; Sunday & Holidays 6pm - 11pm
The Richmond Night Market first opened in 2000, eventually moving to the night market location on Vulcan Way. But in 2007, the Richmond Night Market lost its lease and went on a four-year hiatus (the Summer Night Market took over its location as a replacement in 2008). Returning in 2012 at a new location near River Rock Casino (making it easy to reach by Canada Line; it's walking distance from the Bridgeport Station), the re-opened Richmond Night Market has 80+ food vendors, 250+ retailers, live entertainment, and carnival rides.
International Summer Night Market
Where: 12631 Vulcan Way, Richmond, BC
When: May 10 - September 8, 2013
Open hours: Friday & Saturday 7pm - 12am; Sunday & Holidays 7pm - 11pm
The International Summer Night Market has been the go-to destination for big night markets (as in huge crowds, 300+ vendors) in the Lower Mainland since 2008. At the International Summer Night Market, vendors are split into two "sides:" a food vendor "side" and a discount-retailer "side." Visitors usually start on the food side, where food stalls are lined up in rows; after dinner, crowds browse the retail stalls on the other "side" of the market, which include discount goods like cheap sunglasses, fashion, jewelry, electronics, and Chinese-language DVDs. Special multicultural event nights are scheduled throughout the season.
Making the Most of Your Visit
Bring cash! Most vendors will accept cash-only (also true for on-site parking), and while there are ATMs on-site, you can avoid excess bank charges by bringing your own cash. Dinner for two will be about $40 (adding up small, fair-size plates isn't cheap). Families with kids should be aware that the crowds are large and tight; make sure the kids know how to hold hands/stay with their parents, and suggest a central location for meeting up if someone gets lost (or, make sure they all have cell phones).