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Governors Ball is returning full speed, continuing the tenuous festival comeback season this year in the first few weeks of fall. While you may already be starting to pack your bags and figuring out what you need to head off to Citi Field, it’s best to take some extra precautions and coordinate a plan (which we assure you, is necessary).
The annual fest returns after Gov Ball cancelled its 2020 event due to Covid-19, missing a year in Randalls Island (situated between northern Manhattan and Queens in New York City). This year, the festival has moved from its usual location to the Citi Field complex in Queens. With the move comes more public transit accessibility, and some limited parking as well. But with a surge in Delta variant cases and vaccine hesitancy, it’s hard to imagine Citi Field packed with hundreds of thousands of attendees again this year.
The Gov Ball’s 2021 health and safety policies seem to reflect a growing trend in the festival circuit, with organizers requiring attendees to meet certain Covid rules and regulations before they are allowed entry (Lollapalooza enforced many of the same rules at its festival in July).
What Are the Covid Rules and Regulations for Governors Ball 2021?
Just like many festivals this past summer, Gov Ball’s Covid policy requires proof of full vaccination, so remember to bring your physical vaccine card, photocopy of your vaccine card, or have a photo uploaded to the NYC COVID Safe app on your smartphone. Not fully vaccinated? You can also bring a negative Covid-19 test result from within the past 72 hours of attending each day of the fest.
Gov Ball’s health and safety policy aligns with its presenter Live Nation‘s mandate, which requires not just attendees, but artists and crew, as well as its employees to adhere to the protocols.
If you are unvaccinated, you won’t be required to wear a mask throughout your time onsite, but due to the highly infectious Delta variant, we strongly suggest you do.
Do I Have to Wear a Mask at Governors Ball?
Governors Ball won’t require masks in any space, regardless of vaccination status. Out in the open, Gov Ball will just have to trust that you’ll keep that mask secure all weekend if you are unvaccinated. By taking the right precautions (like getting fully vaccinated before you go), you can still mitigate your risk and have a rocking time.
The good news is that with the success of the mandate requiring visitors to present vaccine cards or provide a negative Covid-19 test beforehand, the spread of the Delta variant at Lollapalooza was mitigated somewhat—according to Chicago’s health department, there were only 203 confirmed cases out of nearly 400,000 attendees.
How to Buy Tickets for Governors Ball 2021
While VIP passes and packages for Governors Ball are mostly sold out on the official site, don’t panic and go to a sketchy website or hit up your cousin who totally “knows a guy” for tickets. Vivid Seats is the place to buy Governors Ball tickets online, with everything available from three-day passes, single-day passes, and even VIP passes. Vivid Seats guarantees the authenticity of its tickets or your money back.
Remember that no matter the purchase method, these are physical wristbands that will be mailed to you, so plan for shipping time in advance. Be sure to activate your wristband before heading to Governors Ball for entry, but also to make cashless purchases at the fest.
Note: Gov Ball After Dark shows take place around NYC after the festival has finished each night, but your regular festival wristband does not grant you access to these shows. That’ll be a separate ticket you can purchase at the event itself.
Governors Ball 2021 Lineup and Basic Info
So you’ve got the wristband in hand, and it’s been registered — here’s what you need to know for the 2021 festival. First off, the event will be taking place over four days, from Friday September 24 through Sunday September 26 in Queens, New York City, at the Citi Field stadium and surrounding parking lot area.
Billie Eilish, A$AP Rocky, J Balvin, and Post Malone are scheduled to headline Gov Ball 2021. The lineup also boasts act like Megan Thee Stallion, Phoebe Bridgers, Young Thug, Burna Boy, Carly Rae Jepsen, 21 Savage, Ellie Goulding, Leon Bridges, 24kgoldn, Cordae, Future Islands, Freddie Gibbs and the Alchemist, Bleachers, Big Thief, Portugal. The Man, Jamie xx, Dominic Fike, Princess Nokia, 100 Gecs, Bachelor, Orville Peck, and Bartees Strange. The festival also recently added Kehlani (on September 24) and BJ the Chicago Kid (on September 26) to its lineup.
You can find the current map of the festival on their site. The weekend lineup and schedule has been officially posted here, although that may be subject to change (such as DaBaby being very publicly being dropped due to homophobic comments).
Smoking and Vaping at Governors Ball
If you’re a smoker, you’ll want to leave your cigarettes at home. Governors Ball 2021 is a no-smoking event, and all smoking devices (including e-cigs and vape pens) will be confiscated by security.
What to Bring to Governors Ball 2021
Even with concert venues and music festivals across the country slowly returning, safety measures may mean a few changes to what you’ll be schlepping. Note that Gov Ball actually has a new bag policy this year, even if most of their “what to bring” list has remained the same (including “at least two good jokes”). But we’ve got you covered from clear bags to earplugs and everything beyond — here’s what we recommend you pack for Gov Ball for jamming out, all festival-approved in accordance with their 2021 guidelines.
1. Clear Festival Tote Bag
Festival rules about bags oftentimes widely vary from venue to venue, so it’s best to check beforehand so you don’t show up at the gates and get anything confiscated.
Governors Ball now requires that bags be made from clear plastic, vinyl, or PVC and don’t exceed 12″ x 6″ x 12.” We like this clear tote because it’s made specifically with festivals in mind. It’s more structured than a drawstring bag, so you can keep both your smaller essentials like keys, phone, and extra cash, and taller items like water bottles standing upright. Even though it’s durable, it’s lightweight and easy enough to carry that you’ll want to wear it even after the stage lights go down.
Besides tote bags, Gov Ball will also only small clutch-type bags, no larger than 4.5″ x 6.5″ (so no backpacks with secret pockets here, sorry). Empty, clear plastic hydration packs are also allowed, but little hard to find, so you can always get a hydration reservoir (or “bladder”) and put it in a see-through approved bag.
2. KN95 Face Mask
While it’s true that Gov Ball takes place out on an open stadium and parking lot, there are still plenty of activities that you may want to mask up for. You won’t be aware of others’ vaccination status, or and your fellow attendees may not always always follow social distancing and mask protocols. Try to maintain a reasonable distance of six feet from your fellow concertgoers outdoors, even while vaccinated (save the crowd surfing for another time). There isn’t zero risk, especially with Delta-fueled cases on the rise, so we still suggest you pick up a good, rugged face covering that can hold up to standing outdoors in the humid air for hours.
One of our favorite protective face masks is this KN95 mask from BlueBear. You could pick up any other disposable mask, but this one has four fluid-resistant layers that filter 95 percent of particles for up to 12 hours. It’s also lightweight and breathable, making it super gentle if you’re going to be showing up for the entire weekend-long event (although, if you want something more sustainable, Blue Bear also has great reusable masks).
3. Point-and-Shoot Camera
Venues can get really finicky with the cameras they’ll let you take in, even if the tech on your phone lets you get some pretty good shots. Gov Ball’s rules are pretty standard — non-professional film and digital cameras only, or anything with a detachable lens less than two inches. Action cameras like GoPros aren’t necessarily banned here, but selfie sticks aren’t allowed, so we advise not bringing either this time. If you don’t want to risk the memory of a lifetime getting ruined by an unintentionally grainy, blurred-out zoom picture from your phone, a point-and-shoot is your best bet.
We really like the accessibility and 4K quality of the Panasonic Lumix LX10 — if you need a portable way to capture your festival experience with the least amount of effort, this is the one you should get. The Lumix LX10 shoots in crystal-clear 4K at 30 fps (frames per second), and with DFD (Depth From Defocus) it’ll quickly establish a focus lock on faraway, moving subjects, you’ll get actual usable footage when you’re being jostled around by a raging crowd.
4. Water Bottle
Hydration is a must, full-stop, no questions asked. While some festivals might make you suffer through sipping warm water all day from plastic bottles, Gov Ball is letting you bring in one empty reusable water bottle per person (or two, factory-sealed bottles of water). You’ll get the day-long, icy-cold crisp water from this Hydro Flask, and since there’s no volume limit, you can fill up at the water stations with a hearty amount to keep you well-hydrated.
This double-walled, vacuum-insulated bottle’s proprietary TempShield technology means your beverage will stay cold for 24 hours under the hot festival sun. A worthy concert companion, you can either get a quiet sport cap for one-handed drinking or the standard twist-off flex cap. It comes in a wide-mouth option as well as a variety of colors, bonus: it’s also BPA and phthalate-free.
If you want to vibe out to Gov Ball’s lineup without suffering from that ringing in your ears for days afterward, protecting your hearing is as important as packing the best sunscreen.
Consider springing for these high-fidelity earplugs from Vibes, which are designed with live music in mind. These earplugs reduce damaging decibel levels in noisy areas without hurting sound quality, so you won’t have to sit through a muffled version of your favorite songs. Made of form-fitting silicone, these are also more comfortable (and less bulky) than typical earplugs.
6. Phone Battery Pack
Governors Ball actually has mobile charging batteries available for when you get to the festival. But if you don’t want to keep making runs to swap out the battery every time yours runs out of energy, having a battery pack, or one of our top portable chargers, is a great way to ensure you won’t run out of life while in the middle of taking concert photos or trying to call your friends.
Mophie’s battery charging cases are conveniently attached to your phone at all times, so you’ll never set it down and forget it, or have to exchange it for another battery. They’re some of the most reliable power banks out there, since they can extend your phone’s battery life by up to 35 percent all day, and prevent the panic moment of forgetting your charging cable at home.
7. Personal-Sized Umbrella
Now that we’re technically into fall festival season, you never know when the weather can turn on you without a moment’s notice. Thankfully, Gov Ball is okay with you bringing your own personal-sized umbrella just in case the skies decide to open up over Queens.
We like that this Repel Umbrella is 11.5 inches long and less than a pound, so it’ll fit compactly into your festival-approved bag. It’s also easy to handle, and auto-expands with a single button to give you 37-inch coverage over your torso and head. The vented double canopy will also protect you in even the windiest conditions without flipping inside out every minute. Enjoy set after set and stay dry under this simple, solid umbrella.
8. UV-Blocking Sunglasses
That being said, you might find yourself squinting to see the stage if the clear skies leave the afternoon sun beating down on you. While you can pick up sunglasses from any corner store on your way there, if you’re going to spend a lot of time in the sun, you’ll want lenses that can protect your eyes the same way a good sunblock would for your skin. Wearing sunglasses are also an easy way to get you to stop rubbing your eyes, something that can spread germs to your face.
Amazon has some cheap sunglasses that you can order online for same-day delivery. Want something a little more statement-making? These Garrett Leight Navarre Sunglasses are some of our favorites, thanks to their anti-reflective, UV-blocking lenses and built-in nose pads for long-wearing style. With three different color ways and a gently rounded design, these glasses will go along with any festival-ready outfit that we know you’ve been planning weeks in advance.
Blankets, sheets, beach towels — good news for you, Governors Ball allows them in. Of course, you’ll want to be comfortable no matter where you park it at an outdoor festival (especially one that’s in a parking long), but you also don’t want to look like you just grabbed your bathroom towel before heading out the door. Slowtide’s Haven Blanket is the answer, especially for this music fest.
The two-person blanket is made with microfiber, so you won’t get to sweat spills, and there’s a bottom DWR layer for laying down on everything from astroturf patches, to slightly rocky asphalt. But Slowtide is a real festival winner because of its storage capabilities: you can easily fit your phone, keys, or sunblock (non-canned, 3.4 ounces, according to the rules) within the blanket’s corner pockets. The Haven also comes with a convenient carry bag for travel.
What not to bring: Governors Ball does have some hard “nos”. That includes weapons of any kind, outside food, large non-clear backpacks or suitcases, hard-sided coolers, skateboards or motorized vehicles, large umbrellas, hard back chairs and lawn furniture, pets, glass containers, alcohol, instruments, nunchucks, selfie sticks, laser pointers, audio/video recording and more.
How to Stay Safe at Governors Ball: Rules, Restrictions, Health Checks
You might be anxious getting back to being sweaty around thousands of strangers for the first time, and your concern would not be unfounded. According to CovidActNow, even though the Queens County area currently has a 78.4 percent vaccination rate (of at least one dose), and the Covid-19 risk level is classified as being “high” right now. If you’re currently vaccinated, you have a much higher protection level than someone unvaccinated. Travel is explicitly discouraged unless you are vaccinated.
Harm reduction is the name of the game here, and there are steps you can take to make sure that you lower your risk. First thing’s first, you should make sure it’s been two weeks since your second dose of the Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson vaccine before traveling to Governors Ball (the cut-off date for full vaccination by the festival was September 9).
The CDC guidelines state that even if you’re vaccinated, you should still be wearing a mask indoors in public if you are in an area of substantial or high transmission. Continue masking up if you’re going to be tightly packed in next to others for a long time, like an artist’s full set. Try to maintain your distance while you’re walking the grounds, since the rate of infection is lower when you’re outside and moving around.
But Covid-19 isn’t the only health concern with going to a big festival, since you might have to contend with the usual incidents that come along, like sunburns, heat exhaustion, cuts, burns, food poisoning, etc. Governors Ball will have medical tents located throughout the festival grounds.
Trained EMTs will also be onsite to handle any incidents that come up (even just medical questions). If you do get sick, you’re just a few miles away some local hospitals, including Flushing Hospital Medical Center and NewYork-Presbyterian Queens Hospital.
One way to give yourself some reassurance is with a little travel insurance: AXA Assistance USA is a service we like that provides coverage so you can prepare for the unexpected. Their insurance plans, depending on the tier, can include benefits such as trip cancellation, emergency medical expenses, accidental injuries and illness coverage, and baggage delays to help give you peace of mind before and during your festival excursion. You can get a quote or file a claim on their website here.
Of course it goes without saying, but if you are experiencing any severe symptoms, you should always go see a doctor or head to the nearest hospital to get checked out.