‘Spring, good food, and sun’: Smorgasburg is back in Brooklyn and Manhattan

smorgasburg in prospect park
Food lovers celebrated as Smorgasburg returned to Williamsburg and Prospect Park last weekend.
Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

Smorgasburg, New York City’s largest open-air food market, kicked off its new season at the Oculus at the World Trade Center on Friday and in Williamsburg on Saturday before thousands of food lovers headed to Brooklyn on Sunday for the opening of Smorgasburg Prospect Park. 

Eric Demby, co-founder of Brooklyn Flea and Smorgasburg, told Brooklyn Paper that the first weekend of Smorgasburg 2024 exceeded their expectations. Demby estimated that nearly 10,000 foodies attended the World Trade Center location on Friday, while over 20,000 visited the festival at Marsha P. Johnson State Park in Williamsburg on Saturday. 

smorgasburg in prospect park
Thousands attended the first Smorgasburg in Prospect Park on Sunday. Photo by Gabriele Holtermann
smorgasburg booth
The festival offers an array of food and both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

Looking at the crowd, Demby said, “[Prospect Park Smorgasburg] is gonna get pretty close to 20,000, I would say. It’s a lot of people. It’s like a nice small town inside of our little market. The sun came out today. Every year this happens, it sort of feels like the unofficial launch of spring or summer in New York. City. That energy is just the best.” 

It was apparent that Demby was thrilled at how relevant, cool, and important the markets were to New Yorkers, even after 17 years in business. While Smorgasburg started in Williamsburg and was the most famous one, Demby said he loved how much the Prospect Park location had grown. 

“It’s been really great to watch Prospect Park become the real melting pot of all the neighborhoods that surround the park and central Brooklyn in general and watching it become a community gathering space,” Demby said. “And so I love it when this market comes into its own in the summer, in the spring, and gets like a party vibe.” 

smorgasburg in williamsburg
Crowds also flocked to Smorgasburg’s original Williamsburg location on Saturday. Photo by Paul Frangipane

Demby always looked forward to the opening day of Smorgasburg and seeing how new vendors grow into their own by the end of the season, watching their ideas and passion turn into little enterprises and then blossom into businesses. 

“We love watching people we meet in our office over the winter come here on their first day. You know, they’re a little discombobulated. And then by summer, they’re humming along, and they’re like, ‘Hey, I got this opportunity. I got this new thing and I want to do another day with you guys,'” Demby said. 

candied strawberries smorgasburg
Candied strawberries from Tang Hulu at Smorgasburg’s opening day at Marsha P. Johnson State Park in Williamsburg. Photo by Paul Frangipane

Over 60 new and returning food vendors prepared mouth-watering savory and sweet delectables from all around the world for the crowd, patiently waiting in long lines while the smell of barbecued meat permeated the air. 

The Phillips and Poindexter families already had had their fill of mozzarella sticks, chicken on a stick, lamb, and oysters when Brooklyn Paper caught up with them.

oysters at smorgasburg
Oyster Party served fresh oysters and lobster rolls. Photo by Gabriele Holtermann
nachos at smorgasburg
Nachos with a Jamaican twist. Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

Rudolph Phillips shared that they attend the food festival every year because they like to explore new foods, and it was a great Sunday family activity. 

“I’m just winding down with a nice margarita,” Rudolph Phillips said. “It’s a nice experience, and we get to try different foods and different cultures. I’m from the Caribbean. So we like to try and explore new things. I’ll definitely be back multiple times with the kids and the family.” 

Ashley Stuart, Stu Ostrow, and their dog June loved the festival’s energy and great vibes.   

people and dog at smorgasburg
Ashley Stuart, Stu Ostrow, and their dog June enjoyed the food and the good vibes. Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

Ostrow was chowing down Ethiopian fare from Smorgasburg newcomer Emeye Ethiopian Cuisine.

“It’s great,” Ostrow said. “Very comforting. Great food. They’re very nice over there. Great people.”

Stuart added, “It’s such great energy out of here. It’s one of the first days of spring, good food, sun. It’s great.”

There are dozens of food options at each Smorgasburg location. Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

Festival first-timers Chevy, Devin, and Chaya enjoyed their feast of fries from Home Frite and a smash burger and were looking forward to getting ice cream for dessert. They had heard about the event from a friend. 

“I can’t decide what I want, so many options, it’s overwhelming, but it’s good,”  Chevy said. 

paella at smorgasburg
A worker prepares paella from Paella Party at Smorgasburg in Williamsburg. Photo by Paul Frangipane
ice cream at smorgasburg williamsburg
A worker from Bona Bona toasts meringue for a flavorly-complex ice cream in Williamsburg. Photo by Paul Frangipane

Devin said the festival was interesting.

“It has a lot of different varieties of foods. It’s cool. I like the different foods out here to try,” Devin said.

For a full line-up of vendors visit Smorgasburg’s website. Smorgasburg’s marketplaces will run each weekend through October. Smorgasburg at the Ocluus at the World Trade Center in Manhattan runs every Friday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.n., while the Williamsburg location is open every Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and the Prospect Park location every Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.