If you’re ever in New York during the summer, then you should make time for Governors Island. It has an atmosphere that’s separate from the hustle and bustle of Manhattan. It’s probably why many locals go here. So what’s so special about Governors Island? Every year, the best New York events take place during the summer! In this article, we’ll provide you our best insider tips for the top events on Governors Island.
After a long winter break, Governors Island comes back to life on May 1st. For just $2, the ferry takes you to this amazing and mysterious island from Lower Manhattan. Here’s a helpful tip, if you take the ferry on the weekend before 11:30 AM, it’s free! You can find the full schedule of the Governors Island ferry here.
But now, the highlights of Governors Island. Every year, many unique events take place, from music festivals to food events. We’ve collected the most popular for you.
The best Events on Governors Island New York
Here you will find the ultimate guide of the best events on Governors Island, so you do not miss any of the spectacular events on the island and have an unforgettable summer in New York!
Events on Governors Island in May
May 4: Governors Island 1st Annual ShinDIG
Come through Governors Island and join everyone on how the island will be tackling climate change. Guests of all ages are welcome, and you’ll be literally digging dirt in order to help the gardeners protect and preserve the island’s oasis. There’s even a party at 3 PM filled with more activities and prizes. So, if you plan on enjoying Governors Island in the future, let’s help them out as well. More info can be found here.
May 4-August 11: Rare Air Exhibition Space
This exhibition will be located on Colonel’s Row on Governors Island. For people interested in digital media, Rare Air Season 2 explores the basics behind the “Green Screen.” The exhibition will only be on every Saturday and Sunday from May 4 until August 11.
May 19: NYCRUNS Summer Loving 5K and 10K
Calling all runners! Running events are everywhere in NYC. Governors Island is no different. The race starts at 7:30 AM on May 19. Come out and cheer or maybe even participate and run. Click here for more information on the race.
Events on Governors Island in June
June 1: The Very Last PopUp Dinner (Location TBD)
In June, The Very Last PopUp Dinner will take place. The only way to find out the location is to buy the ticket first. It’s been held at Governors Island before. Here, above all, creative minds are in demand. The special thing about this picnic is that everyone can personalize their dining table or picnic blanket – so bring a nice tablecloth, candles and lots of decoration! In the evening there is an entertainment program. For details, you can visit the website of the event. And yes, it really is their very last dinner.
June 4: Sunset Soirée
Join and party with people at Governors Island’s newest luxury camping destination. This party will be held after the Collective Retreats event. There will be signature cocktails available and proceeds will be donated to Friends of Governors Island which helps maintain the park.
June 15-16: Jazz Age Lawn Party
The Jazz Age Lawn Party is so popular that it takes place twice, two times. There are two, two-day events, one in June and one in August. It’s the theme party of the 1920s, where the highlight is live jazz music of the Dreamland Orchestra. There are classic cocktails available to drink and everyone will be decked out in 20’s attire. There are numerous food stands and vintage markets on the spot where you can buy unique hats and clothes. If you do not have an outfit that resembles the 20s, you can buy one on-site! For us, the Jazz Age Lawn Party is one of the best events during the summer in New York. Tickets are available here.
Events on Governors Island in July
July 4: NYCRuns Firecrackers 5K and 10K
Enjoy the Fourth of July in NYC, by running a 5K or 10K on Governors Island. NYCRuns holds races throughout the city and is known for putting together The Queens Half Marathon, Brooklyn Marathon, and the popular Empire State Building Run-Up.
July 27-28: Poetry Festival (free of charge)
The 9th Annual Poetry Festival in New York takes place in summer on Governors Island on the very last weekend of July. There will be more than 250 poets, and local booksellers will be able to buy suitable books and browse through the vintage collections of artists and hobbyists. Of course, there will also be food and drinks available. An extra festival is also set up just for children. More information can be found here.
Events on Governors Island in August
August 6: Brooklyn Music Festival
For the fourth time, you will celebrate the wonderful Brooklyn district of Governors Island with indie pop, hip hop, funk, alternative rock, and house music. As is usual in New York events, you’ll find great food and artifacts. A part of your donation at the entrance goes to a charity organization that opposes domestic violence. For more information look at the event’s website.
August 13-14: Jazz Age Lawn Party
The Jazz Age Lawn Party is so popular that it takes place twice! It is a theme party of the 1920s, where the highlight is live jazz music of the Dreamland orchestra, there are classic cocktails to drink and all suit the motto of clothes of the decade. There are numerous food stands and vintage markets on the spot where you can buy unusual hats and clothes – if you do not have a fitting outfit for the 20s, you can buy one on-site! For us, the Jazz Age Lawn Party is one of the best events of the summer in New York. Tickets are available here.
August 30-31: Japan Performing Arts Festival
During the end of August, Japan Performing Arts will be performing Bon Odori dancing on Governors Island. Come and stop by and enjoy this unique experience. More information can be found here.
August 31-September 1: The 10th Annual Unicycle Festival in NYC
The Bindlestiff Family Cirkus will be back for the 10th Annual Unicycle Festival on Governors Island on August 31st and September 1st! This is definitely something for bike enthusiasts. The festival will have a bunch of activities, races, and prizes. For more information on this event, please click here.
Events on Governors Island in September
September 21: The Vendy Awards
If you love street food, then this is for you. The Vendy Awards is basically a street food competition between some of the best street vendors in NYC. It’s pretty awesome to gather all of the best street vendors on one island and have a cook-off. Judges will consist of celebrity chefs and TV personalities. For more information please click here.
Exploring Governors Island on Your Own
Governors Island is always filled with events. Here are some other things to do on this wonderful island.
Rent a bike on Governors Island
Bike tours are available on the island. Even better, you can rent your own bike as well. Locals and tourists especially enjoy the warm weather by just circling the island with their bikes. If you’d like, you can purchase the Go New York Explorer Pass and you will get the Surrey Bike Rental on Governors Island for free. The Surrey Bike Rental is perfect for families of four. It’s pretty much a quadricycle and you get two hours of rental time. This will take a lot of teamwork, but it is a great way to bond with the family. Here is some more information on the Go New York Explorer Pass.
Check out some of the Food Vendors
Last year, we explored Governors Island and obviously became super hungry. We tried one of the food vendors there and were impressed with the drinks and offerings that they had. Please see the pictures below.
Enjoy your Stay at Collective Governors Island
If you want to stay on this amazing island, you can! Collective Governors Island has amazing views of Lower Manhattan, some units have a terrace and there is even bike service. It’s a great alternative from the hustle and bustle of Manhattan. Book your room here.
Being a photographer and creative in general, New York City, I think is the perfect place to be. I moved to NYC from Boston in 2013 and never looked back. Loving New York has given me the opportunity to do what I love and share those images with you all.