A Holiday Miracle: Governors Island Winter Village Opens To The Public For The First Time

Great news for locals and tourists planning to visit Governors Island over the holidays: the Winter Village will officially be unveiled on December 17, 2021. Wondering how you can get there and what’s there to do on Governors Island? Here’s everything you should expect!

The Best Things To Do In Governors Island: The Winter Village

Open from 7 am to 6 pm daily, the Winter Village boasts festive snow-filled activities for its visitors. There’s plenty to see and do in the village, from a gigantic 5,000 square-foot ice skating rink to local favorites like bike rentals and delicious food.

The Ice Skating Rink

Take your family, friends, or significant other for a romantic skate through the large 5,000 square-foot ice skating rink situated at the heart of the Winter Village. Didn’t bring your skates? Not to worry. They also offer skate rentals for all ages for only $8.
While everyone pays a flat $11 admission fee, the ice-skating rink is free for use on Friday.

Need help with timings and such? The skating rink is open Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays starting December 17th following the schedule below:

  • Friday – 12 noon – 5 pm
  • Saturday – 10 am – 5 pm
  • Sunday – 10 am – 5 pm

There’s plenty of space for everyone on the rink, but if you want to get ahead of the crowd, we suggest skating during lunch hours or right before they close—when everyone’s too busy enjoying the view or munching on scrumptious food.

Vendors And Food

Speaking of food, several vendors have set up shop on Governors Island and at the Winter Village. You’ll find Little Eva’s is serving up quite a delicious variety—from bratwurst sausages to pulled pork, pita sandwiches to mac-n-cheese. Want to try something new? Head on over to the only Filipino food truck or the mouthwatering array of Greek food at Souvlaki.

Truly, it’s a unique experience that will make the trip worth it!

Feeling a bit cold and in need of something warm? Make a beeline for Joe Coffee at the Battery Maritime Building and the LMCC Arts Cen­ter at Soissons Landing.

Furthermore, guests are welcome to use the picnic tables set up all over the island, and yes, you may bring food and drinks to the island. Since alcoholic beverages are available, island goers may not get their own alcohol. Make sure you dispose of your garbage properly, though, to keep the surroundings clean.

The Best Activities at Governors Island Winter Village

Aside from the usual fun to be had around the island, the Winter Village brings in merrier pastimes. Located in Colonel’s Row, there’s plenty of fun to be had when the skating rink is closed on weekdays.

For example, daily attractions like the retired Coast Guard-era firetruck are perfect for taking Instagram-worthy photos with your friends, family, or just by yourself. You could also partake in crowd-friendly activities, including various lawn games like Giant Jenga, Cornhole, and Can Jam.

Feel the need for adrenalin? Try the bike and sled rental booths across the Village. They’re the perfect fun way to explore and experience the winter island scenery. Not to mention, they make great photo props. Dazzling festive lights light up the entire Village at night, completing its winter wonderland look and adding a touch of holiday magic.

It’s the epitome of a true New York Christmas!

What Makes The Governors Island Winter Village So Special?

Up until recently, Governors Island was only open to tourists and visitors for a few months each year. President and CEO of the Governors Island Trust, Clare Newman, describes the Winter Village as the perfect kick-off to the inaugural winter season.

The Winter Village also marks the island’s first opening to tourists at the end of the year, celebrating the holiday season. For the first time, guests can sit by campfires enjoying hot chocolates or enjoy a merry sled ride with their children away from the hustle and bustle of the city that never sleeps.

What can only be called the first of many themed attractions on the island moving forward, one can only hope that this opens up more opportunities for visitors to enjoy seasonal activities going into the next year.

How To Get There

Ferries take visitors from the Big Apple to Governors Island daily. You can visit NYC Ferry or reserve a Trust for Governors Island ferry ticket to book a reservation.

Unsure about timings? Perhaps you need a little help getting to Governors Island from key points in the city? Here’s everything you need to know:

  • From Lower Manhattan: The Trust for Governors Island operates several ferries 7 days a week that can be found at the Battery Maritime Building, 10 South Street.
  • NYC Ferry: An NYC Ferry shuttle will take guests from Wall Street or Pier 11 to Yankee Pier on Governors Island. If you’re taking a ferry along any of the routes that stop at Pier 11, you may also request a transfer to a Governors Island ferry – free of charge.

What’s even more exciting is that the fare is only $3.

If you fit in any of the below-mentioned categories, you can travel to Governors Island free!

  • Seniors (65 and above)
  • Children under the age of 12
  • NYCHA housing residents
  • IDNYC holdersFormer and active military service members
  • Governors Island members

Furthermore, the ferries do not charge passengers on Saturdays and Sundays before noon. What we like best is that you can bring bikes on the ferries for no added charge.

You just need to make sure you make it on time while there’s still space. Yes, island goers are accommodated on a first-come, first-served basis—so the quicker you get to the ferry, the higher the likelihood of finding a place on it. And finally, all ferries are wheelchair-accessible.

Ferries run back and forth between New York and the Island 7 days a week from 7 am to 6 pm. All tickets cover round-trip expenses, so you do not need to book a separate ticket back to New York. Take a look here for a complete look at the ferry schedules going into Governors Island.

Things To Remember Before Visiting The Island

Governors Island is a safe space for everyone who visits, and the Trust for Governors Island team has worked very hard to keep the environment fun and safe for the entire family. Proper etiquette is an absolute must.

Here are a few things you should know before planning your trip:

Arrive 15 minutes earlier than your departure time – to avoid delays or running out of space on the ferry. Fifteen minutes is the suggested time since ferries fill up quickly and leave as soon as they’re at full capacity.

Book a free tour – the island hosts guided one-hour walking tours to visitors who want to explore the entire island. Tours are held every Saturday and Sunday with a limit of 10 people per group.

Zero waste – The Trust for Governors Island has collaborated with Earth Matter, NY, Inc, to follow and promote environmental consciousness on the island.

Group visits – families, schools, or groups who wish to visit the island together are allowed. However, the group size is limited to only 40 people. If you have a larger group size, it’s best to contact their customer service team.

Is Governors Island Worth Visiting?

Situated just shy from the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple but not too far to be inconvenient, Governor’s Island has been a go-to destination for organizations, schools, families, friend groups, and more for decades.

Aside from a quiet and enjoyable environment, there’s much to do in Governors Island—from arts and cultural events to pumpkin patch events to recreational activities, youth programs, historic walking tours, the yard adventure playground, etc.

All this has been possible only because the community over on Governors Island is astounding. Not to mention, the Trust that maintains the island and many of its vendors that have been there for years are all committed to giving island goers a memorable time.

Governors Island Winter Village

If you’re looking for a new destination this holiday season without leaving New York City, then the Governors Island Winter Village may be just the choice for you. There are plenty of fun activities to enjoy, from singing merry carols to building snowmen to warm fire pits, lawn games, bike rentals, and more.

Not to mention, the 5,000 square-foot ice skating rink is certainly one you don’t want to miss, especially when the sun starts to set and the festive lights brighten the evening sky and lend the rink an ethereal glow.

Want our recommendation? Plan your trip with friends and family today—Governor Island’s Winter Village is exactly the kind of fun-filled outing you need to end the year on a high note!

About the author
Steffen

I'm a true New York fan! Not only have I visited the city over 20 times but also have I spent several months here at a time. On my blog I show you the best and most beautiful spots of the city, so that you have a really good time! You can also find lots of insider tips in our New York travel guide. Also check out my hotel finder for New York!

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