Bastille Day fun from France, all summer long

Bastille Day is coming and New Yorkers will get to experience something new this year: rare, museum-quality carnival rides from France that will be inhabiting the shores of Governors Island!

Fête Paradiso, the world’s first festival of vintage, artisan-crafted French carnival rides and carousels, will make its American debut Bastille Weekend, July 13-14, on the island. Donated courtesy of Francis Staub and Regis Masclet’s collections, the late 19th and early 20th century attractions include games, carousels, flying swings, and a pipe organ.

A late 19th century bicycle carousel is one of the 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 20th century Music-Hall Ball Guzzler: a carnival game that features life-size caricatures of celebrities at that time, such as Josephine Baker, Maurice Chevalier, Charlie Chaplin, and the Fratellini Brothers.

“Fête Paradiso will transport adults and children to a charming Parisian street fair of a bygone era,” said 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.”

A 1900 bumper car pavilion that has been transformed into a beer garden and special event space will be present at the festivities. Visitors will be able to eat typical French carnival food onsite at Le Gamin.

Special treats will also be available for children, such as a 1930 children’s carousel that has been refurbished into a music kiosk, where performers will entertain visitors with sideshow performances and music from the time period.

“Governors Island is so pleased to host Fête Paradiso,” said Leslie Koch, president of The Trust for Governors Island. “These incredible 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 on Saturday, July 13, and will run through Sunday, September 29. Operating hours will be every Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Admission is free, and the rides and games cost only $3 each.

Free ferries will run to Governors Island from Manhattan and Brooklyn. East River Ferry Service will also be running for $4. For a full schedule of the East River Ferry and for fare information, visit

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