Market lovers who've been burnt by the sun foraging for foodie joy these past few weeks, don't despair; as the new year kicks into gear there's a plethora of evening markets to discover in Melbourne and surrounds. While farmers markets are still keeping farmers hours, the twilight markets offer the same bustling atmosphere, but with a smorgasbord of street food and a backdrop of live music rather than scorching summer rays.
The Supper Market (Abbotsford)
Located within the beautiful grounds of the Abbotsford Convent, the Supper Market is a weekly mix of food and drink, music, craft and fashion. On-site businesses the Convent Bakery and Lentil As Anything are joined by stallholders peddling everything from Indonesian, Mexican or Turkish food to wood-fired pizzas and fish and chips. Pick a patch of grass, unfurl the picnic rug and soak up some tunes with live music from 6.45pm.
Every Friday until March 1 (6pm-10pm), 1 St Heliers Street, Abbotsford, suppermarket.com.au.
Suzuki Night Market (Queen Victoria Market, City)
The Queen Victoria Market gets a complete makeover every Wednesday night in summer. Gone are the $15 boxes of mangoes and clip-on koalas; in their place is an eclectic mix of international street-food stalls (think African curries, paella, pierogi – Polish potato dumplings), wine bars and new-age healers spruiking remedies for all life's ailments. To cap it off there's plenty of craft and a rowdy, rolling cast of musicians (next week Wednesday 23rd features the Tek Tek Ensemble, Te Honon Nga O Iwi and Alez Burns Adventures in Paradise).
Every Wednesday until February 27 (5pm-10pm), corner Queen and Therry streets, Melbourne, qvm.com.au.
The People's Market, Collingwood
Organised by brother-sister team Stephen and Niki Filipovic, this funky market utilises an otherwise empty development site to showcase (in shipping containers) a revolving monthly selection of cafes, food stalls, local artists and DJs. January's dinner options include The Meatball Company, Paperboy Kitchen (Vietnamese-fusion) and South (vegan/soulfood dressed up as dude food). A bar operates from noon, pouring beers from Thunder Road (Brunswick) and ciders from Old Mout. Enjoy it while it lasts; come mid-year, this site will be on its way to becoming (another) inner-suburban apartment complex.
Every Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday (until 10pm) until the end of April, 64-68 Stanley St, Collingwood, peoplesmarket.com.au.
St Kilda Twilight Market
If you're hankering for a summer evening by the seaside, this lively weekly market hosts chefs from Richmond's Himalayan Sherpa, the Meatball Company and the grill-masters from Senor BBQ (traditional Argentinian barbecue). There's also a small selection of local produce such as honey, strawberries and Victorian-grown tea to purchase, along with an array of stalls sporting local crafts, vintage wares, homewares and jewellery. There's no loud music here, just a spattering of busking musicians and fire-twirling types.
Every Thursday until February 28 (5pm - 10pm) excluding February 7, O'Donnell Gardens, St Kilda (beside Luna Park on Acland Street).
Chinatown Market, Melbourne
No surprises here; this laneway market draws in the passing crowds with hawker-style stalls cooking up sweet and sour yummies, including fried rice cakes, char kuey teow, satay, nasi lemak, curry puffs, chicken pop corn, Taiwanese beef noodles, dumplings and desserts. There are also non-edible goodies (bracelets, trinkets) just in time for Chinese New Year.
Third Friday of every month (4pm-10pm), the next market is Friday January 18, Heffernan Lane, Chinatown (off Little Bourke Street between Russell and Swanston streets), Melbourne.
Melton Community Twilight Market
If it's a truly old-school community market you're looking for then this may be it. Melton's monthly not-for-profit market is organised by the local Scouts/Venturers to help hone their business skills: think sausage sizzles and ice-cream vans. Also on offer are food stalls spruiking Dutch pancakes, crepes and take-home cakes and desserts. Local-made fudge is (apparently) a highlight.
Third Friday of the month until March 15 (6pm to 9pm), the next market is Friday January 18, Barries Road, Melton (Bunnings car park).
Geelong Night Market
Combine a picnic in the park with live music for a perfect summer evening. Geelong's twilight market is organised by the same folk behind Melbourne's Suzuki night market, so is well supported with dozens of stallholders. Effort has been made to ensure a more regional feel, with local producers and food outlets such as Mayan's Groovy Bakes and Trinature and Funky Frog Concepts (confectionary) – increasingly represented. The food focus is on international, hawker-style food and there's a fully-licensed area for those so-inclined. Local artists also exhibit and there are plenty of kids activities to keep the little ones engaged.
Every Friday until February 15 (5.30pm-10pm), Johnstone Park, Gheringhap Street, Geelong.
Cowes Night Market (Phillip Island)
For a beachside market with flair look no further than the new Cowes Twilight Market, where happy holidaymakers jostle with the locals for food and dance space. There are plenty of food vendors dishing up the likes of gozleme and calamari, but local producers – Kite Haven Olive Oil, Phillip Island Honey, Bass River Winery, Grand Ridge Beer – are also on hand tempting visitors with take-home goodies. Live music, children's clothing and other wares make for a good mix.
Market dates: Janiuary 26, February 16, March 9, March 30, (5pm-9pm January-February; 3pm-7pm March), The Esplanade, Cowes, near the Cowes jetty, cowesnightmarket.org.au.
* Have we missed any foodie-focused twilight markets? Jump on the comments below and let us know.