Before it became one of NYC’s most beloved outdoor destinations, Governors Island served as a military outpost, dating all the way back to the Revolutionary War. Today, Governors Island National Monument is an essential part of the island, consisting of two 1812-era forts, Fort Jay and Castle Williams, that you can tour on weekends.
The island offers plenty of space to stretch out from the confines of the city, whether that be on a picnic blanket or one of the many bright red, playful hammocks scattered throughout Hammock Grove. Climb the FIGMENT tree house on the Parade Ground or play a round of mini-golf on the annual, artist-designed course. Or let out some pent up energy by riding bikes, there will be Citi Bike docking stations on the island for the first time this year, or taking part in a pick up game of baseball or soccer on the ballfields.
Each year Governors Island welcomes artists to set up summer residencies in the houses throughout Nolan Park and the rest of the island. A trip isn’t complete without wandering through the houses, checking out incredible installations and even getting a chance to see the artists at work. This year a few of the many presentations include work from a Jewish community of artists at the Art Kibbutz Summer Artist Residency, an exhibition from The Sculptors Guild, photographs from winners of a photography show hosted by Art of Intuitive Photography, and an interactive exhibit called Writing On It All that invites guests to draw on the interior walls of an old house on the island. Kids can also participate in free weekend workshops at the CMA Free Art Island Outpost.
Along with art installations, multiple theatre companies take to the island each summer with fun and often interactive productions. This year, Exquisite Corpse Company returns with a Performance Series of new plays staged within an old house, the Un-Reel Film Series featuring free screenings from emerging filmmakers, and a full-scale immersive production based on surrealist painter Rene Magritte. The Dysfunctional Collective will also be creating a home in House 8B for the summer, where you can stop by any weekend for a “grab box” of art, music, theatre, and dance.
Only open for a few months of the year, it makes complete sense that Governors Island’s event calendar is filled to bursting with fantastic parties, live performances and more. Put on your best flapper dress and brush up on your Charleston moves for the annual Jazz Age Lawn Party. Taking place two weekends, one in June one in August, it’s a wonderful event with 20s-era cocktails and live big band music. Celebrate the beginning of summer in style by listening to the front porch folk and bluegrass jam sessions that pop up all over the island during Porch Stomp on June 18th. Or travel back in time at one of the Vintage Baseball games happening throughout the summer and watch the game the way it was played in the 1860s!
GRAND OPENING OF THE HILLS
Opening in July, The Hills will be the culmination of a long-term architectural project that will complete the park aspect of Governors Island. Rising up 70 feet above sea level, the rolling hills will offer stunning views of the city, beautiful grassy lawns and pathways as well as Slide Hill, home to NYC’s longest slide!