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Photograph: Governors Island/ Timothy Schenck

Governors Island is officially opening on May 1

From the Jazz Age Lawn Party to glamping, here's what's on this summer at the seasonal destination.

Shaye Weaver
Written by
Shaye Weaver

The lush oasis that is Governors Island will open to the public on May 1, signaling the start of the fun outdoor season in NYC.

On Thursday, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the "on-time" opening, saying the "jewel of New York City" was delayed in opening last year because of the pandemic. 

New this year, there will be two stops in Brooklyn for weekend service—at Brooklyn Bridge Park and Red Hook—and ferry trips will be free to seniors, public housing residents, children and those with an ID NYC card.

"This will not only provide free ferries for NYCHA residents—in Red Hook, one of the largest in the borough—but will also bring New Yorkers to Red Hook and support local businesses on the weekends. I believe that the Trust for Governors Island cares about serving all New Yorkers and look forward to the programming again this year,” said Council Member Carlos Menchaca.

On that note, here are some events on Governors Island this year:

Starting May 1: Glamping with Collective Governors Island 

May 22: NYC Runs Summer Loving 5K & 10K

June 12-13: The Jazz Age Lawn Party

July 4: NYCRuns Firecracker 5K & 10K

July 24-25: New York City Poetry Festival

August 7: NYCRuns Governors Island 5K & 10K

October 31: NYCRuns Haunted Island 5K & 10K

jazz age lawn party
Photograph: Courtesy Jazz Age Lawn Party

And some ongoing happenings:

New York Virtual Volcano Observatory: The New York Virtual Volcano Observatory recreates the experience of exploring a volcano within NYC. It'll host a pop-up art-science exhibition by the WetLab of NYU-Gallatin titled "PHREATIC!" from May 1-June 7.

ArtCrawl Harlem: "Boundaries & Connections” will feature the completed artwork of our 2020 Artist in Residence, painter and photographer Ricky Day and painter/mixed media artists Demarcus McGaughey. 

Swale: Swale, a floating food forest built atop a 5,000 square foot barge, is currently building a public food forest on Governors Island that will open in late spring.

West Harlem Art Fund: Two art exhibitions are planned for the spring and fall, including outdoor sculptures, in-person classes, literary reading and artist residency during the months of July and August. The spring show "We Are In Reach" features Dario Mohr, Kraig Blue and Jannette Jwahir Hawkins.

Works on Water: In response to the pandemic, the focus of this year’s exhibit by this artist-run experimental organization is on creating temporary, site-specific outdoor works that'll interact with the public.

and art to check out:

The May Room by Shantell Martin: Shantell Martin has created a labyrinthine installation spanning the floors and walls of the Our Lady Star of the Sea building and reimagined the interior of this former chapel built in 1942 with her signature black-and-white line drawings. She also designed custom-built furniture in the shape of letters that can be arranged to spell out words and will restore the building’s nave, which has been closed to the public since 1996.

Cabin by Rachel Whiteread: Located on the hillside of Discovery Hill, this concrete cast of the interior of a simple cabin suggests retreat and introspection as it overlooks New York Harbor.

Yankee Hanger by Mark Handforth: As the name suggests, this whimsical sculpture invites visitors to sit on, walk through, and engage with it on Liggett Terrace.

“This Year Made Clear how Critical Green Spaces Like Governors Island Are to The Health and Well-Being of Our City,” said Merritt Birnbaum, the executive director of The Friends of Governors Island. “Everyone needs the ability to escape the concrete jungle and recharge after such a hard winter, and we can’t wait to welcome new yorkers back to enjoy the spring blooms, fresh harbor breezes and plenty of room to bike, stroll, picnic and relax. We’re especially grateful to our volunteers and supporters who stepped up in big ways over the past year to ensure governors island remains a beautiful and welcoming place for everyone."

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