Luna 1878 Winter Festival @ Queen Victoria Market

Like many Melbournians and other fellow hibernators, on a cold evening in winter, I’d rather sit at home and curl up on the couch with a hot cup of soup. There’s hardly anything that could tempt me out of my comforting corner and sheltered soul to battle the wind and rain outside. Even when I head out for dinner on a wintery night, I would almost always drive and park as close to the venue as possible, thus minimising any amounts of walking necessary. So, why was it that I got out of my house last Wednesday evening and stood outside (although under shelter) for almost 2 hours? The answer was to attend the Lunar 1878 winter festival at Queen Victoria Market. That’s probably the only thing that can drag me out in the cold!

It’s shameful to say but I’ve never actually been to the Suzuki Night Market at Queen Victoria Market before, even though it has been running every year during summer for the past 15 years. I blame it on the distance from home, although it doesn’t explain why I’ve never been during university days (being almost right next door to it and all).

As summer is still quite a few months away, I wouldn’t have been able to attend one of these festivals for quite some time yet, so I was overjoyed when I found out that a winter version is being held at the same location. It will be on between 8 August to 29 August 2012, running every Wednesday night. The first night of the festival last Wednesday kicked off with a bang, although it was a shame that I didn’t get to taste more of the lovely food on offer.

The food consisted of hawker style stalls providing comfort foods like soups, steaks, stews and the like by many of Melbourne’s diverse cultures. Think Argentinian barbecued meats, Nepalese goat curry and Eastern European classic borsht and pierogi. As we headed there at 6:30pm, we were just in time for the peak dining influx of people so naturally the lines to some of the best smelling food stalls were almost as long as the Great Wall of China.

There were also drinks and mulled wines near the entrance to wash down all that hearty food.

Would you like one of these chargrilled juicy steaks?

Or a hot bowl of creamy meatballs?

None of these take your fancy? Then how about a sweet indulgent dulce de leche (Portuguese caramelised condensed milk treat) in a cone? We bought 1 each of these cute bites, although it was a tad on the sweet side for me. Would have been perfect to go over a scoop of ice cream or a hot muffin!

We also bought a plate of the Nepalese goat curry. It was not as good as I expected, the goat seemingly had a different texture to regular lamb, but the curry was just regular curry.

Rach on the other hand, bought this delicious Nepalese dessert called Lal Mohan (similar to the gulab jamun dessert popular in many Indian subcontinent countries), which is an ‘evaporated milk dumpling dipped in sugar syrup’. Although quite sweet as well, I enjoyed this hot milky dessert more than the curry by a mile. In fact, I might just try to make this at home. πŸ˜‰

We wondered around the whole place, taking in all the hype and excitement, finding ourselves immersed in the creativity of some of the side stalls, selling fascinating pieces such as the below necklace made with soft drink can openers.

Or this young artist called Greg with his fascinating wood creations. I never really understood how artists can be so talented and come up with such intriguing and creative ideas. I struggle everyday just to put plates and clothes in the right arrangement on the table.

For more art from Greg and his team at Visual Fields, visit

If these don’t take your fancy, how about these cute vintage items turned clocks? There’s everything you can think of here, including the pictured sifters, plates and bowls, but also the odd VIsa/Mastercard sign on the wall, or a coke can and tea kettle.

There are also some vintage and recycled clothes stores and pretty red hair pieces for the more fashion conscious which I wasn’t. I did manage to gawk at these cute red hairbands for quite some time though.

Or maybe instead of accessorising yourself, you’d rather accessorise a bag, or a few bags, with these gorgeous cotton pins. I even found one for my brother – a street map pin showing his old high school. I loved the idea of using old Melway pages to make these pins, but it was a great shame that even after 15 minutes of rummaging through the pin heap, I still wasn’t able to find one with my residential suburb. Someone must have beat me to it….

A festival wouldn’t be complete without live music, even better when the bands change every week. A centre stage was set up for singing and dancing, while a trio of classic instrument performers entertained nearby diners. Go to the below website for details on which bands are performing on which days.

As we were all very hungry (made worse by the fantastic smoky meat smells throughout the whole venue), we didn’t want to line up and wait for our food so a tough decision was made to dine elsewhere. Perhaps I will come by this festival again to continue my food adventures and soak up more of the creativity and festivity, maybe it’ll rub off a bit on me.

If you’re currently in Melbourne, why not rug up and head out to this free festival that will end in just a few weeks, to enjoy a great night out with live music and beautiful comforting foods. Never know, you might even pick up an item or 2 of unique handmade pieces to accessorise yourself or your home.

Lunar 1878 winter festival at Queen Victoria Market
Runs on: August 8th, 15th, 22nd and 29th
Time: 5:30pm – 10pm
Cost: Free
Suitable for: all ages

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15 comments… add one
  • choux choux August 14, 2012, 11:16 pm

    I went to one of the summer markets earlier this year. It was incredibly packed but I enjoyed it a lot! I’m pretty excited for the winter one though! I can’t wait to go! The Portuguese caramel looks so good!

    • Jenny @ Ichigo Shortcake August 14, 2012, 11:57 pm

      I should have gone to the summer one! Festivals are so awesome when it’s warm, but of course, this one’s fine for winter since there’s so much heat from the BBQs and campfires..:D

  • The Squishy Monster August 15, 2012, 10:51 am

    This looks like A LOT of fun!!

  • ChopinandMysaucepan August 15, 2012, 11:13 am

    Dear Jenny,

    I was at Queen Vic Market recently and thought the deli section was truly amazing in terms of its sheer variety of cooked food, cured meats and Mediterranean food items. Great to see they have a theme for the luna winter festival too. This market beats many Sydney fresh food markets in many areas except for seafood, which is understandable.

  • Carolyn Jung August 15, 2012, 11:18 am

    What a fun place to explore. I’d definitely brave the cold for some of those meatballs. πŸ˜‰

  • Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella August 15, 2012, 12:41 pm

    That certainly looks worth braving the cold for! Thanks Jenny! πŸ˜€

  • Tania @ A Perfect Pantry August 15, 2012, 4:42 pm

    What a wonderful festival… and to think I was at the markets not long ago. I loved it there so much:) I have to go back.

  • Daisy@Nevertoosweet August 16, 2012, 11:15 am

    So sad i missed out πŸ™ didn’t know they had this festival! Will they have anymore? I’d love to go πŸ™‚

  • yummychunklet August 16, 2012, 11:30 am

    The flame-grilled food looks very appetizing!

  • kitchenriffs August 16, 2012, 11:35 am

    Sounds like a terrific time! I love looking at pictures of food being prepared, or plated and ready to eat, or just sitting there minding its own business. πŸ˜‰ Fun post – thanks.

  • Ames August 17, 2012, 12:39 pm

    Though I feel like it’s a bit too cold right now to venture out at night, I’m glad they’ve thought of some innovative ways to get people out for the markets :). Love it during summer – you should definitely go next year, Jenny!

  • Miss Kimbers @ Fruit Salad and Mixed Veg August 18, 2012, 5:51 am

    Ooooo! πŸ™‚ It seems like a European Christmas Market…but without the Christmas.

  • Panama September 19, 2012, 10:17 am

    This event has become a cult classic of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival so discover (or rediscover!) your love of street food.


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