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Private Event Guide

It is possible to hold private events on Governors Island.

A private event is one that is not open to the general public and is held outside of the Island's Public Access days and hours.

Permits are not required for small, informal gatherings such as family reunions, picnics, corporate outings or meet ups that take place when the Island is open to the public (Friday-Sunday from May 27th -September 25th as well as Memorial Day, 4th of July and Labor Day.)Your group is welcome to come out to the Island during these days, pick a spot and enjoy all that the Island has to offer.

Please note for small, informal events:
  • Spaces and picnic tables cannot be reserved.
  • Barbequing, grilling and cooking are not permitted on Governors Island.
  • Alcohol cannot be brought onto Governors Island by visitors. Alcohol is available for purchase and consumption at Water Taxi Beach on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and Holiday Mondays. Caterers can service alcohol at private events with appropriate licenses and permits.
  • Private vehicles are not permitted to access the island.

Private events are permitted at the following times:

Now through May 27, 2011 and after September 25, 2011: Day and evening hours, 7 days a week

Public Access Season (May 27, 2011 through September 25, 2011): Monday through Thursday, day and evening hours; Fridays after 5 PM, Saturdays and Sundays after 7 PM.

Please note that during the Public Access season, private events are NOT permitted from Friday 10 AM to 5 PM or Saturday and Sunday 10 AM to 7 PM.

Private events require the completion of a permit, not a full proposal.

Click on the links below for information about event locations, fees and costs, rules and regulations and island services. After reviewing the guide, follow the steps to submit a permit application to The Trust for Governors Island. Additional permits may be required by New York City including, but not limited to FDNY, DOB and DOH. A staff member from The Trust for Governors Island will help you determine which additional permits may be necessary.

Private Event Information
Island General Information
Hours of Operation
Before & After-Hour Events
Event Sites
Outdoor Sites
Indoor Sites
Water Taxi Beach
Ferry Information
Governors Island Ferry
Other Ferries/Private Vessels
Human Powered Vessels
Island Services
Emergency Services
Trash Removal
Fees & Costs
Site Fees
Costs for Services
Amenities & Utilities
Wireless Internet/Cell Phones
Stage & A/V equipment
Production Vehicles - Load in/Load out
On Island Transportation
Wheelchair Accessibility
Program Rules and Regulations
Submitting a Private Event Permit Application
Insurance Requirements
Placing Dates on Hold
Rain Dates
Submission Time
Response Time
Island General Information
Opening Day: Friday, May 27, 2011
Closing Day: Sunday, September 25, 2011
Days/Hours: Fridays from 10:00 am - 5:00 pm
Saturdays and Sundays from 10:00 am - 7:00 pm

The Island will now be open on Holiday Mondays in 2011 from 10:00 am - 7:00 pm:
Memorial Day - Monday, May 30th
Independence Day - Monday, July 4th
Labor Day - Monday, September 5th

Now through May 27th and after September 25: Day and evening hours, 7 days a week

Public Access Season (May 27th through September 25th): Monday through Thursday, day and evening hours; Fridays after 5 PM, Saturdays and Sundays after 7 PM.

Please note that during the Public Access season, private events are NOT permitted from Friday 10 AM to 5 PM or Saturday and Sunday 10 AM to 7 PM.

Evening Events: Events are permitted after the Island's operating hours. However, additional costs will apply for Island services, ferry transportation, security and emergency services. A staff member from The Trust for Governors Island will work with you to determine these costs and what additional amenities, if any, are required. Please be sure to indicate the exact times for event, including set up and break down, on your permit application.

Weddings: Weddings can occur in the following ways on Governors Island:
  1. You can have an informal wedding or "do it yourself" wedding on a day that the Island is open to the public (Friday, Saturday and Sunday from May 27th through September 25th, and Holiday Mondays) without a permit. You can come out to the Island with your guests, pick a special spot and have a ceremony and a picnic. Space cannot be reserved for you and no resources are dedicated. The space will remain open to the public.
  2. If you are looking for a more formal affair, the second option is to have a catered reception at Water Taxi Beach. Water Taxi Beach has the ability to assist you with hosting your ceremony elsewhere on the Island but the reception must be held within their beach or courtyard. You can reach out to them directly to arrange a site visit and to talk about site fees and availability. Contact info is as follows:
    Mark Davidoff
    Water Taxi Beach

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Event Sites
Outdoor Spaces: Governors Island has a variety of outdoor spaces for events ranging in size from a wide open field that can hold more than 10,000 to a smaller, shady green space for a few hundred or even several thousand.
Outdoor spaces

Indoor Spaces: Governors Island offers a limited number of indoor spaces that are available for events. Please note that there is only one indoor space available to accommodate groups of larger than 100 people.
Indoor spaces

Water Taxi Beach: Water Taxi Beach is a private dining and entertainment venue that is available for rent for private events, weddings and concerts.

The venue has a small, grassy courtyard, a tented area and a man-made beach all with great views of the Harbor and downtown Manhattan. Water Taxi Beach has an onsite catering facility. Parts of this venue can be used during the day and evening hours during the Public Access season.

For more information about holding an event at Governors Island's Water Taxi Beach:
Maura A. Buckley
Sales Manager, Harbor Experience Companies
212-742-1969 X 222 (o)

If you are interested in using Fort Jay or Castle Williams or any part of the Governors Island National Monument for an event, please contact the National Park Service at or call 212.825.3045.

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Ferry Information
All private events on Governors Island must secure ferry transportation to and from the Island either via the Governors Island Ferry (the Coursen) or a commercial water taxi.

Governors Island Ferry: The Governors Island Ferry, the Coursen, is a vehicle ferry. It has the ability to hold up to 1,200 passengers or carry a maximum of 30 automobiles. The Coursen can be used to load in/load-out as well as carry invited guests to and from the Island during regular business hours. The ferry can be used during regularly scheduled runs Monday - Friday from 7 AM to 5 PM or rented after hours or on weekends.

Other Ferries: Depending on the nature, timing and size of your event, you may choose or may be required to provide additional boat service to and from Governors Island.

Governors Island is equipped with docks at which ferries can land. If you choose or are required to use a private ferry service, you can work out a ferry schedule that meets the needs of your event but must remain within the Island's normal operating hours. These ferries can shuttle to Governors Island from various points in the Harbor.

Ferries are permitted to land at Yankee Pier, Pier 101 or Soissons Dock. Appropriate docking licenses and certificates of insurance must be obtained before permission is granted for a vessel to land. Please indicate in your permit application if you will be using another ferry provider to transport guests to Governors Island.

Private vessels: Private vessels are not permitted to dock on Governors Island.

Human Powered Vessels: Depending on the time, size and nature of your event, human powered vessels may be able to land during your event.

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Island Services
Security: For the protection of the Island and its public spaces, The Trust for Governors Island will require that you hire officers from the Island's private security staff at an hourly rate. The number of officers will be determined upon receipt of your permit application.

Emergency Services: There are no emergency services on Governors Island during non-public access hours. Depending on the nature and size of your event, you may be required to hire an ambulance or EMTs for your event. These services can be rented through The Trust or you can work with another reputable vendor.

Sanitation/Janitorial/Custodial: There is sanitation staff on the Island during hours of operation. If your event requires additional sanitation, your staff may provide those services to the Island's satisfaction or you may hire Island staff at an hourly rate.

Trash Removal: All trash generated from an event must be bagged and removed from the Island at the end of the event. Trash cannot be left next to garbage cans or on the curb. The Trust for Governors Island suggests hiring a private trash carting service or hiring island staff to discard program debris.

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Fees & Costs
Site Fees: Site fees vary depending on the event's size, location duration and nature. Not for profit rates are also available.

Costs for Services: These include transportation on the ferry, security, engineering, emergency services and sanitation staff. Once you submit an event permit application, staff from The Trust for Governors Island will work with you to identify if there are additional needs and services for your event and what the costs of those services are.

Costs are determined according to the details in your permit application. The more detailed your permit application, the more quickly and accurately The Trust for Governors Island can estimate your costs.

Damage Deposit: All events must provide a deposit to cover any potential damage to Island property. The deposit amount is based on the size and nature of the program. Upon inspection and the conclusion that no damage was conflicted on the Island or its property the deposit will be returned in full.

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Amenities & Utilities
Bathrooms: Indoor restrooms are located in the Battery Maritime Building in Manhattan and in Building 110 on Governors Island. Portable toilets are located throughout the Island during the Public Access season. Portable toilets can be rented from a reputable vendor for your event.

Tents/Staking: Tents can be weighted down or staked anywhere on the Island. If tents need to be staked, an Unexploded Ordnance assessment (UXO) and archeological survey must be performed and additional costs will be incurred. UXO assessments and archeological surveys are necessary due to the Island's history as a former military base and the designation of some areas as a National Historic District. Tents cannot remain overnight except on the South Island Field.

Wireless Internet/Cell phones: Governors Island has no wireless internet service. Events requiring internet service can rent a satellite service to provide internet access.

Furniture: Depending on the date and location of your event, some furniture may be available for use by your event. Event producers can also bring additional furniture to the Island.

Electricity: Available electricity varies throughout the Island. Please see indoor and outdoor site pages for specifics. If your event requires electricity, you must inform The Trust for Governors Island of what type of distribution you are planning to use. It may be necessary to have an electrician make these connections.

If your event requires its own generator, it must be placed in a location approved by Governors Island staff.

Water: Governors Island currently has no potable water. Water on the Island cannot be used for drinking or washing dishes.

Stage & A/V Equipment: Governors Island does not own or rent stage, sound or audio equipment. Governors Island does not have a television, microphone, amplifier or generator. Staging, tents and A/V equipment are not provided but can be brought in by event producers.

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Production Vehicle Access: Vehicles necessary to your event's production can access the Island via the Governors Island Ferry, the Coursen. Vehicles can be no more than 12.5 feet high, 40 feet long and must be less than 30 tons. Only a limited number of vehicles can access the Island for events. Personal vehicles are not allowed. If the vehicle is not carrying equipment or materials, it must remain on the Manhattan side. All vehicles need prior permissions to access Governors Island.

If your event has additional vehicle needs that cannot be met by the Coursen, there are opportunities to contact another ferry or barge service that can carry vehicles in the Harbor. Fees for that service are determined by the vendor.

Load-in/out: Events can be loaded in prior to depending on the Island's event calendar and specific requirements. Vehicles and equipment can be left overnight with proper permissions. Events can also be loaded out the day after.

The gardens, lawn, foliage and brick pathways must be protected from damage during load-in, load-out, and throughout your event. The Trust for Governors Island will work with you to devise an appropriate protection plan.

On Island Transportation: The Trust for Governors Island does not provide transportation to production staff or program attendees. If your event requires use of a golf cart for production staff, you can rent one cart per program from the Island or an outside vendor.

The Trust for Governors Island also has access to three 14-seat trams that can be rented during the event to shuttle visitors around the Island.

Wheelchair Accessibility: The ferry to Governors Island, as well as the Island itself, is accessible to wheelchairs. Not all buildings on the Island are wheelchair accessible. Building 110, located next to the ferry landing on Governors Island is accessible to wheelchairs. Wheelchair accessible portable toilets are located throughout the Island.

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Program Rules and Regulations
Alcohol: Alcohol is only permitted in cordoned areas and must only be served to those over 21 years of age. Event producers are responsible for securing a permit from the New York State Liquor Authority, hiring appropriate staff to serve alcohol, checking IDs and securing entrances to the cordoned area. The Trust for Governors Island must receive a copy of the liquor permit.

Catering/Food: Events can be catered privately at the event producer's expense and you are welcome to choose your own caterer. Licensed caterers are able to use charcoal grills in certain areas; however, they must provide fire extinguishers and metal drums for charcoal disposal.

Animals: Pets are not permitted on Governors Island with the exception of licensed service dogs. Certain livestock are permitted at private events as long as appropriate permits are secured.

Fishing: Fishing is permitted and is catch and release only. All visitors who fish and who are over 16 years of age must have a valid New York State fishing license.

Camping: Camping and overnight stays are not permitted.

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Submitting a Private Event Permit Application
Permits: In order to hold an event on Governors Island, you will need to secure a permit from The Trust for Governors Island. Depending on the nature of your event, you may need other permits from the City of New York associated with holding events within the City. The Trust for Governors Island will help you determine which additional permits are required for your event, but you are responsible for obtaining all permits, paying all fees associated with them, and providing copies of each permit to Governor Island in advance of your event.

When submitting your permit application, please provide as much information as possible and answer all questions to the best of your ability. Elaborate whenever possible to provide a full and clear description of your event.

Download the Governors Island Private Event Permit Application

Liability Insurance: Event planners must provide liability insurance for use of the Island. A typical policy covers a minimum of $1 million per occurrence, naming Governors Island Corporation d/b/a The Trust For Governors Island, Governors Island Preservation and Education Corporation, The City of New York, Turner Construction, NYC Economic Development Corporation, Harbor Ferry Services and National Park Service as additional insured. Workers compensation of at least $1 million is also required.

Placing Potential Dates on Hold: Event dates cannot be placed on hold until the permitting process has begun. Event dates and locations are only confirmed once all relevant permits have been received, signed and approved.

Rain Dates: Governors Island is primarily an outdoor venue. Limited indoor spaces are available for smaller events. If your event is outdoors you may wish to choose a rain date. Please include in your permit application an alternate event rain date if your event is outdoors.

Submission Time: It is recommended that you submit your permit application as far in advance as possible. Permits are reviewed in the order they are received.

You may submit your permit application via email. Submit your proposal attachments appropriate for PC download (Microsoft Word, Excel, or PDF files) to:

Response Time: Once you have submitted a permit application you will receive a confirmation email within 48 hours. Shortly after, someone from The Trust for Governors Island will reach out to discuss your event in more detail. Logistics and details of private events on Governors Island are often complex. Please allow ample time for working through these logistics between submitting your permit application and the actual event date.

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