Traveling the world without a passport: the Atlanta International Night Market

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Traveling the world without a passport: the Atlanta International Night Market

Earlier in October, restaurants, vendors, and performers came together under the night sky at the Atlanta International Night Market. This event was organized and hosted by Atlanta Int’l Night Market, which is a non-profit organization that put together a three day festival bringing the Atlanta community together to celebrate a diversity of cultures.

The event was held in the North Point Mall parking lot from Oct. 4-6th, starting from the early evening and lasting until 12 a.m., mimicking the atmosphere of a night market found in Asia. Tickets for entry were sold for $10 each and could be bought online or at the gate. According to AINM, their mission is to “provide a place where people from all nations can enrich their lives through experience with food, performances, games and visual arts to nourish and delight the mind and spirit while celebrating diversity and community”.

Upon entering the vicinity of the event, I was filled with the smell of charcoal grilled meat, syrupy bubble tea, and fresh papaya salad. The stalls were set up in rows upon rows, smoke arising from grills and clothes swaying in the late summer breeze. The setup reminded me of the bustling night markets by my grandparents house in India. This event gave attendees an amazing chance to experience the chaotic atmosphere of the night markets found all around Asia and the chance to travel the world without a passport.

“It was a really cool atmosphere to experience and I think it did a pretty good job of replicating the night market feel,” said sophomore Abhi Tayal.

Stalls included a diverse selection of cuisines to feast from. The stalls differed from French crepe vendors, to Korean kimbap snackeries, to Indian chaat trucks, and vegan soul food stalls. There were options for everyone to enjoy a little bit of each part of the world.

The menu items were priced from less than 5 dollars to above 9 dollars. Food vendors were required to provide at least one dish on their menu priced under 5 dollars so that the attendees could experience multiple cuisines. While I was there I tried char-grilled chicken skewers and pad thai that were inspired by street food found in Thailand. Thai being my favorite cuisine, I had never tried the grilled chicken skewers and it was really amazing to try something new while I was there. Take this poll to let me know what street market food you want to try!

Something that was new to me this year, which was extremely impressive and met with excitement and positive feedback, was the Veggie Village. The AINM created a separate section known as the Veggie Village which included a numerous amount of vegan and vegetarian vendors. I had the chance to visit a couple of the stalls and all of the vendors focused on promoting a healthier diet that still maintained the delicious and authentic flavors of their culture.

In addition to food vendors, there were many vendors selling traditional clothing, jewelry, beauty products, and toys from their country. There was an Indian vendor selling the most beautiful earrings and this amazing henna vendor who was doing henna for customers. 

The night was a thrill, but the main event that made the whole night were the performances. All the performers were passionate, talented, and most importantly inclusive. Whether it was a traditional Korean drum dance known as Samgo-mu or a spicy Caribbean Latin fusion dance with partners, all performers were extremely entertaining and interactive with the crowd.

If you are not able to travel the world yet, I do not think there is a better way to explore different cultures than the Atlanta International Night Market and I highly encourage everyone to attend it next year. Who knew traveling the world in one night was possible?