Eric Allix Rogers Brooklyn Flea
Eric Allix Rogers Brooklyn Flea

10 unbelievable places around the world to host a flea market

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Flea markets are some of the most resilient kind of business: they grow, develop, duplicate, evolve, vanish and eventually re-emerge to thrive again. They are made by the people, for the people. They are places of exchange, discovery, sharing and entertainment. These are some of the reasons why I believe there will always be flea markets.

From the tiniest villages in the south of France to the big Asian metropolis, flea markets are everywhere. And even if the language, currency, products and customs may change from one place to an other, in the end the very essence of what makes a flea market what it is, remains the same.

Flea markets are nonetheless not all treated equal. Some countries consider them as local institutions that have been part of the cultural scene for decades or even a century (like the Monday Trade Days in Canton, Texas, which began in 1873), while others still think of them as dens of thieves or incubators for poverty and diseases. From one country to an other, flea markets take different names* and shapes: some are reverently hosted in places like a temple, a bank vault, or a palace. While others thrive in more “extreme” conditions, like outside in the snow, on an island or high above the clouds.

“A city without a flea market is suspicious. Just like it would be without birds chirping & flying around. This means something is wrong, or sick in this city. Flea markets are a reliable indicator of the city’s pulse.”

Enjoy our list of 10 unbelievable places around the world to host a flea markets, and feel free to use the comments below to share your own “unusual” venue!

* Swap Meet, tianggê, talipapâ, gurjari, car boot sales, jumble sale, Marché aux puces, Brocante, vide-grenier, Flomärt, Flohmarkt, tianguis, Mercado de pulgas, vlooimark, kirpputori, loppmarknad, vanakraamiturg, mache pinèz, pasar loak, pasar tumo, bolhapiacon, Flóamarkaður, pchli targ.

On an island (San Francisco, USA)

Located on Treasure Island, right in the middle of the bay between San Francisco and Oakland, the TreasureFest (Treasure Island Flea market) offers a truly unique, and breathtaking view over the city skylines of Berkeley and San Francisco.

The flea market itself is not as huge as other flea markets in the region, like the Alameda Flea Market or the Rose Bowl Flea Market in Pasadena, but with 400+ merchants, it provides quite a decent selection ranging from handmade and upcycled products to antique vases, collectibles, and other rare finds.

If you are looking to take some spectacular photos of San Francisco, Treasure Island is the place you want to try. And as a bonus, the island showcases some of the last surviving buildings and sculptures from the 1930 World’s Fair.

Read: All you need to know about TreasureFest
Fleamapket: Review of TreasureFest on our interactive map of the world’s best flea markets

In a Palace: Alexandra Palace (London, UK)

Built in 1873 as a place of leisure for the public (the Palace opened on Queen Victoria’s 54th birthday… and burned 16 days later when a fire broke out), Alexandra Palace sits on one of London’s northern hill looking over the city. For more than 25 years, its bright and airy Great Hall (which was restored between 1980 and 1988) has served as the setting for a large and impressive flea market: the Antiques, Collectors, 20th-century and Art Deco fair.

The Alexandra Palace Antiques & Collectors Fair is one of the UK’s largest antiques events. The fair, which runs for times a year, is full of hand picked, quality, antiques traders who offer a wide range of genuine vintage and antique goods.

Alexandra Palace Antiques, Collectors, 20th-century and Art Deco fair
Opening times: Sundays, four times a year (in 2015: Sunday 3rd May, Sunday 13th September, Sunday 6th December)
Address: Alexandra Palace, Alexandra Palace Way, London, SAT NAV – N22 7AY

In a Palace: Villa Fenaroli (Brescia, Italy)

The Villa Fenaroli Palace Hotel is a sixteenth century palace hotel located in Rezzato (Lombardy). It was once the luxury estate of two Italian aristocratic families: the Avogadro and Fenaroli. Nowadays, the villa is an exclusive hotel and congress center where art, culture and business converge to host prestigious events like Remember Vintage.

Remember Vintage has its focus on fashion, clothes and accessories, with a few merchants specialized in modern antiques and vinyls.

8th Edition of Remember Vintage
Opening times: November 2015 (Dates to be confirmed)
Address: Villa Fenaroli (Rezzato/ BS, Via Giuseppe Mazzini 14) 

In the vault of a decommissioned bank (Brooklyn/NYC, USA)

“Show me the money!”

If you’re tempted to yell this well-known phrase uttered by characters in the 1996 film Jerry Maguire, while entering the decommissioned vault of the Brooklyn Flea Market, just don’t. Unless you really found THE hidden gem, which then, makes this relatively acceptable.

What was once the Williamsburgh Savings Bank Tower, is now one of New York City’s preeminent spot to score vintage furniture, décor, clothing and handmade goods. Even the vault which once hold millions of dollars in crispy banknotes and gold bars, has been transformed into an additional space to the flea market.

And if you don’t walk away with the perfect art deco vanity, you will leave with stars in your eyes: besides its impressive vault, this historic landmark has limestone and marble interiors, intricate mosaics and is a marvel in itself. A must.

Brooklyn Flea
Opening times: Sunday from 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Address: 176 Lafayette Ave, New York, NY 11238, USA


In a flat (Paris, France)

As part of an agreement signed with the City of Paris, the association Challenge Emmaüs opened a bric-a-brac at the 104 rue d’Aubervilliers back in 2010: The Emmaus appartement 104. The venue (once a privately owned flat) offers a very nice collection of vinyls (1€ each), numerous articles for knitting (wool, knitting needles …), furniture, dishes, books, Men jacket at 12€, leather bags at 6€ and a large choice of clothes for women and kids.

What is particularly fun with this venue, is that it has kept the arrangement of the original flat, which is organized according to the rooms of a house, as indicated by the large letters “EAT”, “SLEEP”, “DRESS”. This is why the space is called the “Apartment”.

Emmaüs is a charity which was originally founded in 1949 in France by priest Abbe Pierre, to combat poverty and homelessness, before it started spreading around the world.

Emmaus appartement 104
Opening times: Wednesday 1:30 p.m.-6:15 p.m.,  Thursday & Friday 1:30 p.m.-5:45 p.m.,  Saturday 11.30-6.45 p.m.

Address: 104 rue d’Aubervilliers, 75019 Paris, France (Subway station: Riquet or Crimée)
Web: (content available only in French)

In a shrine (Tokyo/Kyoto, Japan)

In Japan, and particularly in Tokyo, most flea markets are held in the grounds of temples and shrines. Such an uncommon location for a flea market (from a westerner point of view) make for an additional incentive to discover them. And since many of the marketplaces themselves are important cultural areas, it is a lot of fun to take a break from scouting out antique items and enjoy the architectural scenery.

The unique downside is that because most of the flea markets are outdoors, they are highly contingent on the weather conditions, and may be cancelled in bad weather. Also, for some reason the grounds of shrines are particularly cold in winter, so wrap up warm if you plan to visit then.

Some of the best known flea markets in Tokyo include the Togo Shrine, Nogi Shrine, Arai Yakushi Temple, Gokokuji Temple, Myohoji Temple, Kasai-jinja Shrine, Hanazono-jinja Shrine and Tomioka Hachimangu Shrine. 

In Kyoto there are two main flea markets, which, like most of those in Tokyo, are held in the grounds of temples and shrines: The Kobo san (Toji Temple) and Tenjin-san (Kita-no-Tenmangu Shrine).

At 7 350 ft / 2 240 m above sea level (Mexico City, Mexico)

The famous Lagunilla of Mexico City is the most traditional flea market in the city. This flea market takes place every Sundays and is attended by a variety of individuals, from antique dealers, to city dwellers and tourists in search for antiques (“antigüedades” in spanish).

However, what makes this flea market truly unusual, besides its selection of antiques & crafts with their very own Mexican and colonial flavor, is its topographic point: Mexico City, has an average elevation of about 2 250 meters (7 400 ft.), which makes it the 5th highest capital city in the world after Lhasa (Tibet), La Paz (Bolivia), Quito (Ecuador) and Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), and the 1st highest by its population.

Travelers will first discover that it is a little more difficult to walk as fast as they normally would, but they just need to slow down a bit and they will be fine. Anyway, who is in a hurry while visiting a flea markets?

La Lagunilla Flea Market
Opening times: La Lagunilla flea market is open every Sunday of the year.

Address: subway lines 8 (Garibaldi station) and B (Lagunilla station).
Web: Wikipedia

On a decommissioned Naval Air Station (San Francisco Bay, USA)

Naval Air Station Alameda was a United States Navy Naval Air Station in Alameda, California, in the San Francisco Bay. It is a location of historic significance, as it was at the Alameda Naval Air Station where, in April 1942, the USS Hornet (CV-8) loaded the 16 B-25 aircrafts that would take part in the Doolittle Raid on Japan (yup, just like in Michael Bay’s movie).

Nowadays, the former landing strips serve a more peaceful purpose: every first Sunday of the month, the Alameda naval base hosts one of the largest flea markets in Northern California: the Alameda Point Antiques Faire. Expect over 800 stalls along miles of aisles packed with furniture, ornaments, paintings, jewelry, vintage clothing, children toys, old books at this flea market. A real treat for the flea market enthusiast and one of the best flea markets in the United States.

Read: All you need to know about Alameda Point Antiques Faire
Fleamapket: Review of Alameda Antiques Fair on our interactive map of the world’s best flea markets

Out in the snow (Oslo, Norway)

The first snowflakes generally mean the end of the season for open air flea markets, particularly in northern Europe/US/Canada where winter is no joke. However, for those who are used to it, like in Norway, a “little bit of snow” is not a deterrent to selling at the flea market. Far from it.

Birkelunden (“The Birch Grove” in Norwegian) is a relatively large park located at the top of the Grünerløkka district in Oslo, where a flea market is held almost every Sunday from January ’til December (that’s 11 months out of 12…). People meet up at the Birkelunden flea market to sell and buy vintage clothing, costume jewelry and antique furniture, or simply to chat while drinking a cup of coffee and walking their dog through the park.

Birkelunden flea market in Grünerløkka
Opening times: The Birkelunden flea market is open every Sunday of the year, as of January 6th until December 15th, except on public /religeous holidays (March 31st on the 1st day of Easter, and May 19th – Pentecost) as well as on car-free town days at Grünerløkka.
Address: The Birkelunden park is located along the tram rails that go up Grünerløkka and right Birkelunden tram stop.

In the shade of million dollars sculptures (Hanover, Germany)

Nikki de Saint-Phalle (1930-2002) is a renown French sculptor, painter, and filmmaker. She is particularly famous for her monumental sculptures made of polyester resin, with mosaics of ceramic, mirror and stained glass, towering as high as 16 feet and selling for up to a million dollars at auctions.

Some of them are exhibited in public places, like at the popular Old Town Flea Market (Altstadt-Flohmarkt am Hohen Ufer) in Hanover, Germany.

Altstadt-Flohmarkt am Hohen Ufer
Opening times: September / October: 08: 00-16: 00, November / December: 09: 00-15: 00
Address: Am Hohen Ufer, 30159 Hanover

In a Stadium (various locations around the world)

What do the Rose Bowl Flea Market (Pasadena, CA), the Aloha Stadium Saturday Flea Market, (Honolulu, HI), and the Flea Market at Nissan Stadium in Shin-Yokohama (Yokohama, Japan) all have in common? Well, surely not Lauhala or Aloha Shirts…

Those three flea markets are some of the most well known swap meet that take place inside (or nearby) a stadium. Just like it is the case with horse-race tracks when they’re not used for their main purpose, stadiums make for great flea market locations when there’s no game.

And it’s easy to understand why a stadium is sometimes a good fit for event of such proportions: with more than 2,500 stalls and 20,000 bargain hunters who gather each month, the Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena is a truly gigantic event. It’s true that it does not equals the “epic” attendance of the Grande Braderie de Lille in France (10,000 vendors, 2 million visitors) or the Münchner Flohmarkt auf der Theresienwiese (3,000 stalls, 80,000 visitors), but after all these events only occur once a year, while Stadium flea markets usually happen every month. But that’s another story.