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Last weekend, Travel + Leisure magazine hosted its annual Global Bazaar at the Lexington Armory on Lexington Avenue, between 25th and 26th streets. The highly anticipated event lasted for three days, with four sessions accessible to the public with the purchase of a ticket. Each session showcased countries from around the world and celebrated all the best aspects of traveling; liquor vendors such as Patron Tequila and Layer Cake Winery dominated the drinking scene at the bazaar, while hotel chains like Marriott, Hilton, Park Hyatt, and Taj Hotels enticed guests with lavish seating areas, free swag, delicious food, and activities.

Layer Cake Winery hosted several bars where guests could try vintages from exclusive vineyards.

Taj Hotels hosted a beautiful display; guests got to select a free bangle and don a bindi before lounging on an extravagant Indian bed.  

Marriott Hotels and Layer Cake Winery at Session III: Global Bazaar at Night.

The Global Bazaar also featured several world-renowned chefs, including Masaharu Morimoto, Jose Garces, and Michael White. Guests could sample their culinary creations in the center of the room, where each chef had their own table; the ring of chef’s tables surrounded the British Virgin Islands‘ display, which featured a full sail that stretched up to ceiling and proudly proclaimed the name of the event.

Masaharu Morimoto and a happy, well-fed guest.

However, the most entertaining and impressive aspects of the bazaar were put on by the countries in attendance; Taiwan brought in traditional lion dancers, Barbados served up rum and beer while their dancers beat an entrancing rythym on their drums, Chile’s Rapa Nui dancers performed next to an Easter Island statue, and Puerto Rico even set up a working zip line that let guests fly across the Armory.

Traditional Taiwanese lion dancers at the Global Bazaar.  

A drummer at the Global Bazaar.

An excited guest gears up for her ride on the Puerto Rico zip line.

The event takes nearly all year for the staff at  Travel + Leisure  to plan, given its size and scope. “The whole process is really a collaborative effort, because we talk about how the installations start coming together, what’s going to feel organic for each different installation,” said one of T+L’s onsite representatives. She went on to explain that the aim of the Bazaar was that each installation replicate the experience of its sponsoring agency or country.

Furthermore, this year, the bazaar also partnered with Room to Read, a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing literacy around the world by providing children with books and by installing basic libraries in underprivileged communities.

“Right now I’m collecting stories that focus on who inspired you to love reading. For each story, someone will donate a dollar,” said Viola Chung, a representative for Room to Read who was walking around the organization’s library-like installation, asking guests to tweet about their own literacy experiences.

Moroccan spices at the Global Bazaar’s Marrakech walk-through installation.

The bazaar also featured a walk-through replica of a market at Marrakech, where guests could take home their own Moroccan spices, and the rest of the Armory was strewn with stands full of beautiful handicrafts, including Jordanian sand art, Bolivian rosewood, and more, all available for patrons to purchase.

As if all this weren’t enough to make the event magical, there was also a main stage set up in the center of the space, where, throughout the evening, individual performers would come up and sing. My favorite acts of the evening were the flamenco dancers from Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana and the reggae group from the British Virgin Islands, Quito and the Edge.

One of the dancers from Flamenco Vivo.

The lead singer of Quito and the Edge.

Travel + Leisure magazine and American Express Publishing put on the Global Bazaar every year, usually around the beginning of October. Be sure to follow T+L’s blog and website for updates on next year’s event and for excellent travel tips and destination info.

All photos courtesy of Rebecca Boeshaar.

Get in touch with the author @kellitrapnell.

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