Dancing in the street

As street food takes on the mainstream, cultural innovators embrace street culture for the ultimate urban party

Rising in popularity over the last decade, street food has crept into our consciousness changing the way we choose to eat, from five-star dining to quick bites from across the globe. However, now it’s not just the food that is seeing a revival, but also the culture that the street represents.

Dubai’s Street Nights is one such collaboration, a community based initiative it brings together cultural enthusiasts for a weekend of music, arts and of course, delicious street food.  

Inspired by outdoor festivals in her hometown of Montreal, Alexandre Tedoresco, founder of Street Nights decided to bring the concept to Dubai, as she says, “Culture often emerges from the street. In my home city, Montreal, outdoors festivals are very popular; they take place in the streets and attract millions of visitors every year. I wanted to see the same kind of energy in the streets of Dubai.”

The event took place over two nights last weekend (20-21 February) on the fashionable Al Quoz quarter, where it saw more than 20 food outlets offering ‘street’ versions of their menus for visitors to enjoy.

street festival london
Street Nights provides a chance for local artists to shine

International street art teams flew into Dubai where they collaborated alongside local artists to create a unique street art canvas, which then visitors could vote for their favourite part.

Meanwhile, music, curated by Deep Crates Cartles  – the local champions of alternative music and art scene –was also prominent where local and regional musical talent such as, Hamdan Al Abri, Malika and DJ Lobito played alongside international celebrity artists and DJs.

The evenings not only provided great fun for cultural enthusiasts, but also created an opportunity for emerging local talent and businesses to get noticed, as Alexandre says, “Street Nights encourages local start-ups. Most of them are young entrepreneurs who worked very hard to see their dreams become a reality. They are passionate about what they do and the dishes they make and have great stories to tell.”

Meanwhile, in London, Urban Food Fest (www.urbanfoodfest.com) is another food festival that has been cooking up a storm. Located in East London’s creative hub of Shoreditch and Manchester’s trendy Deansgate, the festival has been hailed as the ultimate street party.

Culture often emerges from the street. In my home city, Montreal, outdoor festivals are very popular; they take place in the streets and attract millions of visitors every year. I wanted to see the same kind of energy in the streets of Dubai

Alexandre Tedoresco, Founder, Street Nights

A revolving cast of exciting street food stands serve up gourmet global cuisine – from wood-fired pizza and pad thai to deep-fried frog’s legs – in an array of quirky stalls that include, Thai tuks tuks, converted horseboxes and even US ambulances.

And while visitors are munching on world-class street food, the festival plays host to the best up-and-coming urban street bands, singers and DJs, who play sets alongside a selection of the coolest modern street art, contemporary photography and graffiti artists.

And visitors could be listening to the next–big–thing, as organiser Jessica Tucker says, “At Urban Food Fest we like to showcase the latest and hottest talents. Our events are attended by experts from the media and creative industries, as well as talent spotters looking for the latest and greatest musicians in the UK today”.

The next installment of Urban Food Fest will be taking place every Saturday night from 28th February in Manchester and 28th March in London respectively.

If these two festivals are anything to go by – the street looks like the only place to be for a good time to come.