The warm weather is finally back, which means one thing: we are firmly in the midst of music festival season yet again. And when it comes to New York City, you can’t do better than the Governor’s Ball. It’s only fitting that the greatest city in the world be home to the greatest music festival in the world, and trust us when we say neither will disappoint. Returning to the city from June 2 to 4, tickets are on sale now, but with this year’s lineup they’re bound to sell out quick. So for those who have already secured their spot, we’ve created this quick and simple guide to help you make the most of your festival weekend.
How to Get There
The benefits of having a music festival in NYC start here — there is no shortage of ways to get to the Governor’s Ball, regardless of where you’re staying. The first thing you should know is that there is no parking on Randall’s Island, so you’re not going to be driving there. For private transportation, hire a limo or simply call an Uber Black car. Sit back, enjoy the A/C and arrive at the festival in style. If you want to take advantage of the best public transportation in America while you’re in the city, the MTA is adding multiple express busses, a shuttle from Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and a ferry from Manhattan just for the event. Fitness enthusiasts will enjoy a walk or bike to Randal’s Island from the 103rd street bridge. It’s one of the most beautiful walks in the city, and you’ll enjoy astonishing Manhattan views along the way. Plus, you’ll work up an appetite, which you’ll need to take advantage of all the amazing food.
Where to Stay
Governor’s Ball partners with hotels all around the city, but the closest hotel to the festival is the Courtyard by Marriott on the Upper East Side. As a chain, it’s not going to be the most luxurious hotel experience in the city, but if proximity to the Governor’s Ball is your highest priority, you won’t find better. If luxury is what you’re after, New York has plenty of amazing five-star hotels that are a quick subway or car ride away from the fest. The Gramercy Park Hotel is one of the city’s best, and its central Manhattan location makes it easy to keep the party going once the festival is done for the night. Because if the city never sleeps, why should you? Honestly though, the best way to do the Governor’s Ball and NYC in general is by renting an AirBnB. Get on this one now though, because available rooms are going fast. Most of the rooms you’ll find right now are in Williamsburg, which is perfect. Not only is there a convenient shuttle to the festival, but it’s still one of the coolest neighborhoods in New York. You’ll find plenty of bars in the area to help you wind down after a long day of dancing in the sun.
Which Artists to Catch
This year’s Governor’s Ball lineup is amazing, especially for hip hop fans. On Friday, you can catch Chance the Rapper, who puts on some of the best live shows around. You’ll also see Danny Brown, who’s been secretly one of the best working hip hop artists on the scene since 2010. A$AP Ferg is from Harlem, so you should definitely catch him if you’re looking for a little NYC hometown flavor. On Saturday, don’t miss Childish Gambino. Donald Glover is one of the greatest rappers, actors, writers and comedians alive today, so any chance to see Gambino live should not be passed up. You’ll also be able to catch the Wu Tang Clan. Seeing them live should take at least some of the sting off the fact that we’ll never be able to hear the entirety of Once Upon a Time in Shaolin. On Sunday, hip hop fans will enjoy Wiz Khalifa. Whether or not you’re all that into his music, his live shows are not to be missed.
Not so much into hip hop? Pop fans will adore Friday’s lineup with Charlie XCX and Lorde, whose thoughtful, commentary-injected pop music make her a must-see. Also, check out Mark Ronson vs. Kevin Parker if you’re looking to have a little funk injected into your afternoon. Into rock? Sunday is your day. Revisit your angry teenage years with Tool, and remember exactly how good that band still is. Cage the Elephant puts on a fantastic live show, and The Orwells will have you jumping up and down for the rest of the day.
What to Eat
This is New York — home to some of the best food in the world — and Governor’s Ball is no exception. Roberta’s is an absolute must, seeing as it's widely considered the best pizza in the city. Normally you’d have to travel all the way out to Bushwick for it, but fortunately for all Governor’s Ball attendees, you’ll only need to find the Roberta’s tent to sample NYC’s best woodfire-baked pizza. Big Mozz Sticks will give you the gooiest, most flavorful mozzarella sticks you’ve ever had, and make sure to head to Landhaus for a delicious, slightly spicy maple bacon bar. On the sandwich side of things, Phil’s Steaks will give you the closest thing to a true Philly cheesesteak you can get in NYC, and on the fresher side, Luke’s lobster has the most mouthwatering lobster roll south of Maine. For desert, don’t miss the opportunity to eat at DŌ. This new(ish) gourmet cookie dough spot in Manhattan always has a line down the block. Governor’s Ball might be your only chance to try it without waiting for hours on a Manhattan sidewalk.
What to Bring
New York City can have unpredictable weather, so be prepared for pretty much anything. That said, it’s most likely going to be sunny, so aim on the side of lots of sunscreen. Also, leave your Warby Parker sunglasses at home and opt for a cheap pair. With this many people dancing on an island in the East River, you’re chances of losing them are high. Now, in New York this time of year, there’s always a chance of a freak rainstorm. Pack a small, portable umbrella to huddle under until it passes. Keep yourself hydrated with a refillable water bottle — you may be surrounded by the best food, beer and cocktails New York has to offer, but remember that your body needs water. Drink it. Also, make sure to pack your ID. It may seem obvious, but you don’t want to be denied a refreshing Ommegang Golden Ale because you left your ID back at the AirBNB.
Now that your body is taken care of, remember to protect your experience. Bring as many juice-up phone chargers as you can carry. It would be a shame if you couldn’t snapchat your favorite show of the night because of a dead phone. Half the fun of a music festival is showing it off to the rest of us who are stuck at home. Finally, don’t forget a blanket. It’s a surprisingly versatile and vital piece of festival gear. Not only will it give you a place to relax for a bit when your feet get tired, you can also wrap it around your shoulders if it gets cold.
What Does VIP Get You?
Nobody does luxury like New York, and Governor’s Ball has multiple tiers of luxury packages to help you make the most out of the festival. The VIP and VIP plus passes get you into the festival faster, and access to reserved viewing platforms at all four stages. You’ll have some of the best seats at the festival to any show you want to see. You’ll also have access to an exclusive beer, wine and liquor bar so you can get the party started faster than anyone else. The real stars of VIP access are the shaded tents and air-conditioned bathrooms. That alone is probably worth the price of a VIP ticket.
Those who want a true luxury experience can opt for the $2,150 Platinum tickets. Not only do you get access to the VIP areas, you’ll get guaranteed front-and-center locations at every stage. More than that, most shows will let you watch from a viewing area on the stage itself. You’ll be right there with some of the best artists in the world just footsteps from where you're standing. Also included are two backstage guest areas with all the amenities you could ask for, including an open bar (yes, open). Even food is included, with vendor tokens given for each day of the festival. If that’s still not enough luxury for you, you can rent a suite or Cabana with an elevated view of the mainstage and full beverage service. All that will guarantee you will have the best Governor’s Ball photos on Instagram.
Looking to get in the festival mood? Check out our Coachella coverage!