The Richmond Night Market is back for the 2022 season after it was cut short last year due to COVID-19.
One of the largest outdoor markets in North America, the night market in Richmond, B.C., typically runs from May to October.
According to its website, the market — which features food stalls offering a wide variety of street food, as well as games and performances — annually attracts more than a million visitors from across the province, Canada and beyond.
In 2020, the night market was cancelled due to pandemic restrictions. It returned last July with reduced capacity, but ended early in September as COVID case counts climbed and new restrictions were imposed.
Now, organizers are hopeful for a full season starting April 29 until Oct. 10.
A multi-cultural market
Organizer and founder Raymond Cheung says this year's theme, "Summer Magic Rainbow," reflects his hope for a better future post-pandemic.
"We [are] almost [at the] end of the pandemic, almost like a rainbow is going to come out after the storm," Cheung said.
"We want people [to] feel this is a new beginning, a new start."
Aside from the over-500 food items on offer, this year's market will feature something new: neon light decorations across the entire venue designed to make visitors feel as though they were in a Chinese city.
"My idea is to bring back the traditional all-night market from the past, which was about 50 or 80 years ago when you travelled to Shanghai, Hong Kong … with the atmosphere, with the street food, people eating, enjoying as a family," he said.
Cheung, who started the night market in 2000, says the Richmond Night Market has a long history and is unique for being multicultural.
"This is not a Taiwanese night market, this is not a Shanghai night market. This is Canada, this is a Vancouver night market," he said.
"It's not Asian anymore — we combine it to [include] every culture."
'Bring back the moment before the pandemic'
Anat Singh, founder of Melt Me Silly desserts, will set up a booth in the Richmond Night Market for the first time this year.
He says he hopes it will benefit his business, focused on chocolate fondue, which he started at the beginning of the pandemic.
"What you want for the new brand is to have as many people try it out as possible, and I can't think of a better avenue for people," Singh said.
His business partner, Juie Jithra, says she's excited to see visitors — and their reactions to the sweets.
"It's going to be nice, warm melting chocolate — you could see the fountain right there, you can dip the fruit inside [and] this cake inside and enjoy it," she said.
"It is pure joy."
Cheung says he wants the market to mark the return of some normalcy for vendors and visitors alike.
"My hope is to bring back that moment before the pandemic, where people still feel that moment and enjoy each other at the moment. I hope everybody is just gathering, having a good time, enjoying the food."
The Richmond Night Market will be open on Fridays and Canada Day from 7 p.m. to midnight, Saturdays from 6 p.m. to midnight, and Sundays and long weekend Mondays from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.