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By Chris | July 13 2014
Every weekend from JULY 13 – SEPTEMBER 29, ANNUALLY
Fête Paradiso, the world’s first festival of vintage French carnival rides and carousels, will make its American debut this summer on Governors Island in New York City.
The rare, museum-quality collection, which includes a diverse array of attractions from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, such as carousels, flying swings and a pipe organ, will be available for the public to ride and enjoy every weekend from July 13 (Bastille Day) – September 29.
The extraordinary festival of artisan-crafted, vintage carousels and carnival rides – like a French film miraculously come to life – is the first of its kind to appear in the United States.
Among the classic attractions, which come from the collections of Francis Staub and Regis Masclet, is a bicycle carousel from the late nineteenth century – one of only two in the world that were created in Paris to encourage the use of what was then the new mode of transportation – the bicycle. (The only other bicycle carousel can be seen in the feature film Midnight in Paris.)
Fête Paradiso will also include an early twentieth century Music Hall Ball Guzzler, a carnival game that features life-size caricatures of Josephine Baker, Maurice Chevalier, Charlie Chaplin, the Fratellini Brothers and other celebrities of the time.
“Fête Paradiso will transport adults and children to a charming Parisian street fair of a bygone era,” said Francis Staub. “Until now, this collection has remained in France, and I am thrilled that New Yorkers and visitors from around the world will now be able to enjoy this celebration of extremely rare and precious carousels and carnival rides. While this collection is historically important, visitors will have the extraordinary opportunity to enjoy and interact with the amusements just as others did a century ago.”
To further enhance the nostalgic, dreamlike experience, a bumper car pavilion from 1900 has been transformed into a beer garden and special event space with food – reminiscent of a French carnival – prepared by New York’s legendary French bistro, Le Gamin.
In addition, a 1930 children’s carousel has been repurposed into a music kiosk, where performers will entertain visitors with period music and side-show performances to heighten the Fellini-inspired environment.
All of Fête Paradiso’s historic amusements will be painstakingly constructed by a French family of artisans that specializes in repairing and constructing museum-quality carousels. The group has been flown to New York to build the attraction, which will be enjoyed by visitors of all ages.
“Governors Island is so pleased to host Fête Paradiso,” said Leslie Koch, president of The Trust for Governors Island. “These incredible carousels and carnival rides embody everything that is Governors Island – a series of delight and play that can be enjoyed by visitors of all ages.”
Fête Paradiso will open to the public on Sunday, July 13. It will be open every Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. Admission is free; rides and games cost only $3 each. Free ferries will run to Governors Island from Manhattan and Brooklyn.
Visitors from Manhattan should take the ferry from the Battery Maritime Building, on the corner of South and Whitehall Streets. Ferries leave at 10 a.m., 11 a.m. and every half hour afterwards until 7 p.m. Return ferries to Manhattan leave every half hour beginning at 10:30 a.m. with the last ferry departing Governors Island at 7 p.m.
Visitors from Brooklyn should take the ferry from Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 6 at the foot of Atlantic Avenue beginning at 11 a.m. Ferries run back and forth every hour from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Visitors to the Island can also take the East River Ferry Service for $4. For a full schedule of the East River Ferry and for fare information, visit: http://www.nywaterway.com/erf-home.aspx.
Fête Paradiso is also available for private and corporate events.