The Portland Night Market is a quarterly event open to the public in the central eastside of Portland. Open Fridays and Saturdays from 4 to 11 p.m., the next night market will be April 28 and 29.
With free admission for all ages, the Portland night market is one of the iconic, must-visit places in the Industrial District. Nearly 200 artists and makers gather to sell their goods in a bazaar sort of fashion, each curating their own space to highlight their products. Along with home goods, clothing, artisan body balms, high-end cocktail mixers and art for sale, the night market also has food carts outside which serve everything from donuts and boba to pizza and noodles.
Founded in 2015, the Night Market went on hiatus during the pandemic, but is back and better than ever. Founders Emma and Dustin Evans wanted “to celebrate the people and businesses of Portland through bringing our community together.” Alongside many neighbors, volunteers and eastside businesses, the night market is a thriving community that highlights all the creativity Portland has to offer.
The market stalls are set up in a series of large warehouses with an outdoor plaza where food and drinks are available. For Valentine’s Day, the entrance to the market was decorated with lovely pink and red hearts, making it the perfect place for a photo opportunity.
For a friend’s birthday, seven of us adventured to the night market, excited to discover all that it had to offer. The first room was set up with vendors along all of the walls and in a square in the middle of the room. Every possible bit of real estate was occupied with eager vendors and their stands. We meandered through the first room, stopping to try some CBD gummies, some lavender hand cream and smell Oregon-themed candles.
Curious about the food cart situation, we went out to the back patio where carts were organized along the perimeter and small tables and alcoholic beverage vendors occupied the center. We chose boba and donuts to fuel the rest of our exploration of the market.
The market seemed maze-like at times: Each time I turned, there was another door that led to a room full of tables and shoppers. There was something for everyone at the market; it was the perfect place to go shopping for a gift or, more likely, to find a unique trinket for yourself. I ended up leaving with a gorgeous vintage robe and dress set for a very reasonable price.
Merchandise from all over the world is available and many different cultures, styles and art forms are represented. There was a stall with artisanal cotton candy, one with European drinking chocolate, another with catnip-infused cat toys, right across from one selling stickers and earrings with handmade perfumes and body oils next door.
Upstairs, there was a large room dedicated to photo opportunities, each wall with a cool, unique background perfect for Valentine’s Day pics with your loved ones. Here, we took a momentary break to gather ourselves before venturing back into the fray.
The immense size of the market was overwhelming at times, but it was inspiring to see how many small businesses, especially Queer- and Black-owned ones, were thriving.
“We’ve worked really hard this year to curate our vendors and give more small businesses an opportunity,” Evans told the Portland Monthly. “There’ve been so many people who have taken the pandemic to put their passion and energy into their own small business, and it’s just so cool to see so many new ones and we want to include them.”
The Night Market website recommends taking public transportation to its location, as parking is limited to two hours and sparse. We parked about a half mile away from the entrance and the line for the market was very long and wrapped around the block. Line-skipping tickets are available for $10, but unless you are on a time crunch, waiting is worth it.
The energy of the market was incredible and I highly recommend making the trip to the East side. After April 28-30, the night market will be open on June 2-3, July 9-10, Oct. 6-7 and Nov. 30-Dec. 3.
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