fete paradiso at governor’s island

July 22, 2013 |  Category:   art + design life nyc outings















This right here might be my favorite thing in NYC this summer. Governor’s Island is the first American stop for this rare collection of 19th and 20th century French vintage carnival rides and Fete Paradiso is every bit as charming as it looks. Even the background music of accordions and the mix of occasional cuts from the Amelie soundtrack that’s pumped in through the speakers adds to the atmosphere. I often think that attendants dressed in costume can be overdone (like in the Punk: Chaos to Couture show at the Met), but everything just works here, right down to the roped off pavilion where you can sit under strung lights and chandeliers and order food from the French cafe, Le Gamin.


The vintage rides are truly spectacular and it’s amazing that they’re still functional. You almost have to keep reminding yourself of just how old these rides really are and it seems like a privilege to be able to take a ride on museum quality pieces of art. Maybe the most glaring reminder that these date back to the 19th and 20th century is that the rides don’t have seat belts. The girls rode one dragon ride that went quite fast, backwards and forwards, and as they took off I heard them yell, “but where are the seeeeeatbelts!!!”
Fete Paradiso runs on Governor’s Island until September 29.

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  • julie July 22, 2013 at 12:06 pm

    how fabulous! i love governors island.

  • Theresa July 22, 2013 at 12:10 pm

    Thanks for writing my guide to summer. We arrive in NYC next week and I can’t wait to follow your lead… Fete Paradiso looks amazing. 13 years in NYC and I’ve never been to Governor’s Island.

    • Jenna July 22, 2013 at 12:14 pm

      This is only the 3rd or 4th year it’s been open to the public, Theresa!

      • Theresa July 22, 2013 at 6:12 pm

        Oh ok… I don’t feel so lame then, as I’ve been out of the city for 8 years now. we’ll be in town for 3 weeks which is a good amount of time to show off “my New York” to the kids while also exploring new stuff. Continue to have a great summer Jenna!

  • Liz Rose Bowman July 23, 2013 at 11:15 am

    Those vintage carved pieces are deliciously creepy! It reminds me of the massive maze/hoarder’s cave that is House on the Rock in Wisconsin.