Heading to The Governors Ball this year? If you’re attending this epic 3-day music and arts festival, congratulations–you’re in for an unforgettable experience!
Now that you’ve started planning your music-filled weekend experience, it’s time to get serious about your Gov Ball packing list. Before you can begin having fun, it’s important to think through the logistics of attending a music festival.
If you’re looking for guidance on what to pack for Gov Ball, this post is most definitely for you.
Continue reading for the essential Gov Ball festival packing list to grant you the most fun and comfort from your 3-day experience!
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WHAT IS THE GOVERNORS BALL?
Music. Art. Food. Experiences. Community. (And surprises!) These are all the lovely things that The Gov Ball promises, and there is unlike any other festival like it out there today!
The Governors Ball Music Festival, commonly known as Governors Ball or Gov Ball, is a multi-day music festival typically held on Randalls Island in New York City. More recently, it’s moved to Citi Field, a baseball stadium located in Flushing Meadows–Corona Park in New York City.
So why Citi Field? The festival organizers said that they chose the baseball stadium as the new location because it is closer to subways, buses, and the Long Island Rail Road. The stadium’s easy access also allows for more flexibility with potential weather events.
The festival got its start back in 2011 and since then, has been showcasing some really great musical talent from an array of genres including rock, electronic, hip-hop, indie, Americana, pop, folk, and more.
Previous headliners include The Strokes, Florence + the Machine, Tyler, the Creator, Billie Eilish, A$AP Rocky, J Balvin and Post Malone.
Gov Ball features 4 stages and over 70 acts during the 3 days it’s held. On top of that, the artists that perform can throw pleasant curveballs at you every once in a while, with unannounced surprise performers that will often join them on stage for a song or two!
Aside from the wide variety of music, the festival features a multitude of popular New York restaurants and food trucks sure to delight any festival-goer’s tastebuds! There’s also a wonderful beverage program to pair that features popular name brands, craft options, spirits, cocktails, and plenty of nonalcoholic options too.
Now let’s talk about eye candy. The festival also features amazing visual artists from NYC and around the world. Each year, you can easily expect art installations in the form of mural towers, huge statues, and high-flying inflatables.
All in all, Gov Ball is more than a music festival. It’s an entire experience!
Before we dive into the packing list, I wanted to share with you some festival survival tips! Knowing these will help you understand how to pack a little bit better.
GOVERNORS BALL MUSIC FESTIVAL: ESSENTIAL TIPS
- If you plan to bring a larger bag to the festival, get yourself a clear bag. Most recently as of 2022, due to security measures, the only bags allowed into the festival are small CLEAR bags (no larger than 12″ x 6” x 12”) and small clutch-type bags (no larger than 4.5″ x 6.5″). CamelBaks are allowed into the festival, but they must be empty upon entry, and they must allow for the “bladder” to be removed from the bag for a visual inspection by security.
- Dress in layers. Being held in the summertime, Gov Ball is typically hot with no shade during the day. And when the night falls, it can still get chilly!
- Prepare for any potential rain or mud. Have a lightweight raincoat on standby, but more importantly, if there is any rain in the forecast (even the night before), wear boots or expendable sneakers. Don’t be a victim to the mud!
- Bring a refillable water bottle to take advantage of the complimentary water refill stations. Not only will this save you money, but not needing to buy plastic bottles means it’s better for the environment too!
- You can pack in small amounts of snacks and smaller food items. Think Clif bars, bananas, trail mix, etc. Just don’t go overboard, because “outside food” is technically not allowed.
- If you like standing within the crowds during the show, use the restrooms before the headliners come on. Otherwise, it can be really hard to squeeze out of the packed-in crowds in the middle of a headliner’s performance.
- Arrive early at least one day during the festival. Even if you’re not interested in any of the performances that take place earlier in the day, there are still things you could busy yourself with! It’s the perfect time to get a picture of the Gov Ball Sign without a bunch of other festival-goers in your photo, you could walk around collecting some of the freebies offered throughout the festival, get your hair braided, play a game of mini-golf, try the food vendors, and more!
- Gov Ball has some really delicious food options worthy of your time. Take some time to try a few food vendors out during the day!
- If you plan on sitting on the ground, bring a blanket or sheet to sit on. The grounds can be dirty and covered in trash or food, so with a blanket, you can keep your clothes clean. Simply throw the blanket in the wash after the festival!
- Book a hotel that’s conveniently located from the venue. If the festival is held at Randall’s Island, I recommend booking a hotel in Queens or the Upper East Side, preferably in a location with a subway station nearby. This will save you both time and money.
- If the festival is held at Citi Field, you should still look to stay near a subway station! With all forms of public transportation serving Citi Field, it couldn’t be easier to get to or leave–especially if you’re by a station.
- Leave the festival a tad earlier to avoid the terrible end-of-night train crowds. While Citi Field is much easier to get to, be sure to leave before the end of the headliner’s set, otherwise you’ll be elbow-to-elbow packed into a train that you waited all too long for.
So now that you know a little bit about what to expect, let’s dive into what you should pack for your music festival experience.
GOV BALL ESSENTIAL PACKING LIST
1. Hydration Pack
A dedicated hydration pack can actually save you a ton of money inside the festival. There will be water stations all throughout the festival, meaning you can refill your water for free all night long. CamelBak backpacks are our favorite–these backpacks usually will have secure zippered pockets too, perfect for keys, phone, or other essentials.
Alternatively, you can also buy water at many food and alcohol stands. The drawback of this: not only will you have to wait in line, but you’ll also have to spend money on water, of all things!
80+ degree weather, limited shade, and the hot sun–sunburns are calling your name. Protect your skin with both body sunscreen and face sunscreen.
For the face, we are absolutely obsessed with the magical Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen. No white-cast, no greasy film!
3. Fanny Packs
I love using fanny packs at music festivals because of how hands-free they are. They won’t weigh you down at all and because you wear them in the front, it’s a lot harder for thieves to get to.
These fanny packs by Clearworld were literally made for music festivals–they come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but because they are all clear, you should have no issues bringing them into Gov Ball and other music festivals!
If fanny packs are not your thing, good alternatives to the fanny pack are:
4. Neck pouch / wallet
If you’re a savvy festival goer, then you already know that music festivals are a pickpocketer’s wonderland. Hundreds if not thousands of people get their stuff stolen all the time at festivals. You don’t want to be that person.
If you think any of the above bags are too risky to keep your important possessions in (money, ID, credit cards), get yourself a neck pouch. These can be easily tucked and concealed under your shirt so even if your main bag gets stolen for any reason, you’ll still have your most important items with you.
We recommend Zero Grid’s Travel Neck Wallet because it also has RFID blocking which is crucial to protect against unwanted credit card scans and personal information theft.
5. Portable phone charger
Lots of people’s phones fighting for cellular service means your phone will inevitably be drained out of battery at some point during the night.
You don’t want to get lost and/or deal with a dead phone while trying to find your friends, so consider a portable phone charger an absolute essential and bring one along with you!
Anker’s ultra-light, ultra-portable power bank is tried and true by so many campers, festival-goers, and travelers alike!
6. Sunhat / Sun Visor
Sun protection is absolutely key for Gov Ball. If sunglasses are more your thing, too bad, we still recommend wearing a hat! Sunglasses won’t protect your skin from UV rays, but hats will.
Want your whole squad to match while protecting your faces from the harsh sun? Check out this multi-pack of colorful visors–they come in a lot of other unique colors too!
7. Blanket or tapestries for sitting on
As stated above, bringing tapestries or light blankets are nice to have if you plan on doing any ground sitting. Scarves, bedsheets, and blankets from home will be your most affordable option, while colorful tapestries can be an affordable and really fun way to spice up the aesthetic of your little sitting area! Especially if you or your group plan to sit for the majority of the festival.
Consider some of these unique patterns/designs, or explore the expansive tapestry options here:
Earplugs are good to bring to music festivals because the music can be LOUD. Muffling out some of the abrasive sounds with earplugs means less damage to your ears.
These earplugs by Mack’s are my absolute favorite.
9. Reusable Water Bottle
There will be lots of water refill stations inside the festival. Take advantage of them!
For something more durable that keeps your water cold for hours upon hours, Hydroflasks are my favorite for everyday use. These will probably be your best option because you will most definitely crave ice-cold water!
10. Baby wipes / body wipes
Baby wipes will come in handy for a lot of reasons. First, they are great for wiping excess dust/grime off your body at the end of each festival night.
Secondly, they can be used during the festival itself to clean your hands before touching your food, mouth, or face.
11. Hand sanitizer
At music festivals, it’s nearly impossible to find a sink with real soap and clean running water. Even at the portapotties, there can be bottles of hand sanitizers in place of portable sinks.
Bring some of your own so you can sanitize even when you’re not by a toilet. Since you’ll be using hand sanitizer so much, it’s best to get a non-drying natural hand sanitizer to prevent flaky, dried-up hands. We love the following:
12. Electrolyte Packets
Emergen-C packets or Liquid I.V. Hydration Packets are a must for Gov Ball. These are a great way to support your immune system and overall health during a festival. They are light, take up no space, and are very easy to pack!
Adding Pedialyte or Liquid I.V. powder packets to a water bottle will keep you hydrated and replace your body with electrolytes. Especially if you plan on drinking a lot.
13. Festival tickets / wristbands
DO NOT forget these before you leave the house for Gov Ball!
14. Cooling towels
Cooling towels are amazing if you’re looking for relief from the festival heat. I love them because they can be used in so many ways–as a neck cooler, as a cooling bandana, or a chilled headband.
They work so well because the towel regulates the water inside to ensure water retention, acting almost like an air-conditioner. And just like sweat on your skin, when water evaporates, it cools. It’s one of the best things you can bring with you to an outdoor festival if you can’t tolerate heat as well as others.
If you don’t want to buy an actual cooling towel, you can always bring a regular towel and soak it with cold water to get that cool towel effect (though it won’t stay cool as long as an actual cooling towel).
15. Personal neck fan
These things have saved my life at multiple festivals throughout the year. Trust me when I tell you–there are times where Gov Ball is as breezeless as can be. If you are not one that copes well with stifling heat like me, pack a battery-powered portable neck fan!
16. Sunglasses with straps
Because it can get really bright during summer afternoons. While you’re at it, why not accessorize your accessories?
Pairing your sunglasses with a strap means less likelihood of your sunglasses falling off your head, getting stolen from your pocket, and whatnot. It’s also convenient for putting them on/taking them off in a jiffy.
17. Face mask or Buff
For the inevitable dust, dirt, and other gross particles in the air. There will be tens of thousands of people walking back and forth all weekend long.
A face mask can help protect your nose/mouth from breathing it all in. We like bringing our Buffs because they can be used for so many things other than as a face mask. Definitely a good investment.
18. Light long sleeve shirt / sweater
If you’re the type to run colder, you should consider bringing along a long sleeve, sweater, or flannel that can easily be tied around your waist. Gov Ball may be stifling hot during the day, but it can get chilly at night. I will almost always bring an extra layer into the festival with me just in case.
19. Comfortable walking shoes
I cannot stress enough the importance of having comfortable shoes for Governors Ball. You can expect to be on your feet all day, walking miles upon miles getting between stages. Because of this, you’ll want to do it all in comfortable shoes.
And because there is a solid chance your shoes will come back in rough shape after the festival, be sure to wear shoes that you don’t really care about or can be easily washed.
20. Some sort of rain protection
During this time of year, rain is always a possibility in NYC. Plan to pack either a rain jacket, personal-sized umbrella, or a pack of disposable ponchos.
I personally like ponchos because they’re cheap and lightweight, and they usually come in packs of 5+ so you can share them with your friends / fellow festival attendees!
While pretty much every vendor takes card at Governors Ball (there’s always the cashless wristband option too), I think it’s still good to carry some cash with you–for those just-in-case emergency moments.
Cash is a quicker form of payment than card, which can be clutch when you are trying to get back to your friends or to a stage for a show that’s starting soon. I recommend bringing $20-60 to Governors Ball for small purchases here and there.
WHAT NOT TO BRING TO GOVERNORS BALL
- Weapons of ANY kind
- Illegal Substances
- Tobacco/smoking products of any kind (including e-cigs, vape, etc.)
- Outside Food – A personal sized food item is allowed for those with specific dietary restrictions, with a doctor’s note only.
- Large non-clear backpacks or suitcases. The only bags allowed into the festival are small CLEAR bags, no larger than 12”x 6”x 12” and small clutch-type bag, no larger than 4.5″ x 6.5″
- Large or hard sided coolers
- Picnic Baskets
- Skateboards or personal motorized vehicles
- Large Umbrellas (personal sized are okay)
- Hard back chairs / Lawn Furniture
- Totems made of wood, metal and/or PVC material will NOT be allowed (this includes flap poles and heavy sticks.) No totems taller than 6ft, and thicker than 1/2 inch. Must be made of light material.
- Glass containers of any kind
- Outside Alcohol (alcohol will be sold at the Festival)
- Chains/Chain Wallets
- Selfie Sticks
- Laser pointers
- Professional still camera equipment (no detachable lenses, no tripods, big zooms, or commercial use rigs)
- Audio/video recording equipment
- Drones or hover cameras
How many stages are at Gov Ball Music Festival?
There are 4 stages in total at Governors Ball.
Can you camp at Gov Ball?
Camping is not permitted, so you’ll need to book a spot at a campground or RV park somewhere else and travel from there to the Governors Ball Music Festival.
The most convenient option is to book a hotel room in NYC by a subway station for easy access to the music festival.
And that wraps up our Gov Ball packing list! We hope this has better prepared you for your ultimate music festival experience!
The thing you’ll need to keep in mind the most is this–be prepared for sun and heat during the day, chillier weather during the night, and even potential rain/muddiness during your Gov Ball experience.
Most of all, stay cool, drink lots of water, make memories, and have an experience of a lifetime! Oh yeah, and don’t forget your wristbands!