The Complete Guide to NYC’s Governors Ball

New York City's Governors BallFor music fans, nothing can quite match the experience of a music festival. Some are epic—think Woodstock, Coachella, Bumbershoot, Sasquatch, Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, and Summerfest—and that list doesn’t even include the international festivals. New York City has its own incredible event, The Governors Ball Music Festival, which is held on Randall’s Island. The first festival in 2011 was only one day, and although the acts weren’t huge, it drew a large crowd. In 2012 the festival ran for two days and included bigger names like Beck and Fiona Apple. Finally, in 2013, the festival landed bands and musicians like Kanye West, Guns N’ Roses, Bloc Party, Kings of Leon, and Young the Giant.

Already have your tickets for this year’s event? Here’s what you’ll need to know before you go…

The Experience

The Governors Ball showcases a wide array of musical genres. You’ll find rock, pop, electronic, folk, indie, hip-hop, and more. People-watching will be at its prime, as the variety creates a unique atmosphere that draws music-lovers of all kinds, as well as a variety of ages. Need a break from the music, or something to keep you busy in between sets? Check out the lawn games, photo booths, body painting, art installations, and food trucks. Or, challenge your friends to dance-off at the Silent Disco, a unique experience you won’t want to miss. Moral of the story? If you’re into great music, lots of fun, and dancing your tail off—get ready for the time of your life!

govball2(Animal Collective at Governors Ball 2013)


Due to construction, there’s no parking available on Randall’s Island this year, so you’ll need to get a bit creative. Luckily, there are several options to get to the festival, including taking the subway, bus, Manhattan Ferry, or Brooklyn shuttle – or, consider breaking a sweat even before you get to the grounds by walking or biking there. For more transportation details, check out the Governors Ball website.

Where to Stay

If you plan to attend all three days of the festival, it’s best to have a crash pad to prep and rest up for the next day. If you don’t reside in NYC or the surrounding area, check out the area’s hotels and other sleeping establishments, or plan to crash with a friend or family member nearby.


Food and Water

One of the most important elements of surviving a festival of this magnitude is staying hydrated; it can be all too easy to get caught up in the fun and excitement and totally forget about drinking water. Fortunately, the Governors Ball makes it easy for concertgoers to fill up. Plan to bring in your own water bottle, and take advantage of the eight water stations dispersed throughout the festival grounds.

Food also tops the list of things to check out other than the music. The food lineup is usually just as spectacular as the musical acts! Tons of food trucks – including organic, kosher, vegetarian, and carnivorous options – can be found across the festival grounds. Over 21? Grab a drink at one of the Liquor Lounges in both the general and VIP areas.

What to Expect & What to Bring

As with all other New York concerts, you’ll want to travel light, dress appropriately, and make sure you bring everything you need (and nothing that will get you kicked out at the door!).

Because the Governors Ball is in June, you can never predict what the weather will do. Best advice? Prepare for anything! The most likely scenario is sun—which means sunscreen, sunscreen, and more sunscreen. Hats, sunglasses, and light clothing are also helpful. Beyond that, don’t forget your ID (if you’re over 21), your camera to document the event, earplugs if you need them, and a blanket if you think you might get chilly as the night goes on. Make sure to double check this list so you know what you’re allowed to bring and what’s not permitted.

govballband(Gary Clark, Jr at Governors Ball 2013)

Governors Ball 2014

Now in its fourth year, The 2014 Governors Ball has a stellar lineup. Some of the top acts include Outkast, Jack White, The Strokes, Vampire Weekend, TV on the Radio, Broken Bells, Foster the People, Interpol, Bastille, Fitz and the Tantrums, Neko Case, The Head and the Heart, and many, many more incredible musicians. Some experienced concertgoers recommend planning out your schedule based on the set times of the bands or artists you want to see; others just say wing it! It’s totally up to you. Feeling overwhelmed? Check out this guide from live music connoisseurs

As with any concert, go prepared to keep yourself safe and the experience positive. The best concert memories and musical inspiration come from taking the time to plan ahead. The Governors Ball NYC is sure to be tons of fun, showcasing music that will motivate you on your own musical path. Who knows—with some lessons and practice, you might one day be part of NYC’s hottest festival, sharing your music with thousands of fans!


Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Free TakeLessons Resource

Photos by Sachyn Mital (