It’s hard to believe that we’re over halfway through the last full month of summer. As a kid, I was always really excited for summer, not just because of the obvious lack of school and homework, but because I loved swimming, would take out as many books (Sweet Valley Twins and Babysitter’s Club, anyone?) as possible from the public library and devour them within weeks, adored fresh watermelon, and couldn’t wait to put on shorts (seriously – my mom would use “you don’t get to wear shorts today” as a punishment on the [rare] occasion that I was misbehaving). Oh, and of course my birthday was in the summer too, and my parents always made sure that birthdays were special in our house, especially because we didn’t start celebrating Christmas until I was twelve (a whole other can of worms for a different blog post).
As an adult, I still look forward to summer, but for different reasons. I don’t know what it is, but in New York, it seems like everyone is so much happier in the summer – the city almost takes on a certain “permanent vacation” feel. Maybe it’s because for the last two years, my bosses have let me basically work from home in August since the office is nearly empty, everyone having cleared out for vacation in the Hamptons. Maybe it’s the festivals – food festivals, music festivals, street fairs, outdoor movie nights in the park. Maybe it’s the acceptability of day drinking rose (#roseallday), of brunching on both Saturday AND Sunday, of definitely saying yes to the ice cream truck – maybe even twice in one day. Whatever it is, I love it – and I don’t want it to end.
Alas, if I’ve learned anything it’s that change is inevitable, and all good things do eventually come to an end. If you’re looking for one last summer hurrah in the big city before the leaves change color, look no farther than the 12th Annual Jazz Age Lawn Party!
Taking place once in June and once in August, the Jazz Age Lawn Party (JALP) draws people from all over the city to Governor’s Island, a small island 15 minutes off the southern tip of Manhattan that used to be home to the governor/military barracks. A quaint ferry jaunt into a different era, Governor’s Island is not just a place to hear great Jazz. When there aren’t various music festivals taking place (last summer I was there for JALP, Full Moon Fest, AND 90s Fest), the island is a quiet place to pack a picnic, lounge with a book in one of their many hammocks, or rent a tandem bike for a scenic ride with some friends.
Last year, I went to the Jazz Age Lawn Party’s August date – and arrived to a sweltering heat that threatened to melt my face off and enabled those cocktails to really pack a punch. This year, my JALP buddy and I decided to try to beat the heat and go in June – and were greeted with the same heat. Meanwhile, the projected temperature of this year’s August 26-27th date is a balmy 78 – so I would say the best advice is no advice. Go when you please.
The Lawn Party is a treat for several reasons. First, you get to take the ferry across the water, which is always fun and gives a beautiful perspective of the Manhattan skyline.
Second, it’s always kind of fun to see people dressed up in their flapper gear, making their way through the muggles and over to the ferry dock to join the rest of the costumed festival-goers; there’s a sense of charming complicity.
In fact, I would go so far as to say that the best part of the festival is seeing some of the costumes that people put together. Some people are SO creative and really get into the spirit of it. In fact, almost no one shows up in modern clothes; surrounded by jazz bands playing live music, a croquet lawn, the abandoned yet charming red-brick military housing, and decked-out revelers, you really do feel like you’re being transported into another era.
If you decide to make your way out to Governor’s Island for this weekend’s festival, I would recommend a few things:
~DO bring sunscreen. It is HOT and you will most likely be in full sunlight, as shady spaces near the attractions are hard to come by
~DON’T wear shoes that you are not comfortable walking in grass/gravel/sand in
~DO pack your own picnic lunch – and bring a blanket. I’ve always found the food selection to be expensive and sub-par, and both years they ended up selling out of certain items rather quickly.
~DON’T buy one of the packages, i.e. “Jazz Baby.” We did last year, and it was nearly twice the price of an already-expensive regular GA ticket – but it included four cocktails and VIP entry. It wasn’t worth it; it was so hot that we were both feeling pretty tipsy after two cocktails, and neither of us drank our fourth. The entry lines also weren’t that crazy, so I didn’t feel like it was much of a deal to get to “skip” the line. Also, they increased the price of the package significantly this year, so overall I would save yourself some money and just get regular GA tickets.
~DO bring a couple of dollars for a ferry ticket (I believe it was $2.50). This was also kind of annoying – last year, the ferry ticket was included in the price of the JALP ticket.
~DO dress up! Don’t be that lame uncostumed person – because you WILL feel out of place. I got my dress, gloves, pearls, and feathered headband on Amazon for $50 – it’s more fun that way and really does contribute to the overall experience.
For more information and tickets on this lovely way to say goodbye to August and send off the summer, click here.