Governors Ball returns for its 2023 edition on June 9-11 at a brand new NYC location, Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens. The move brings the festival back to a grassy park after a couple of years in Citi Field's parking lot; prior to that it was held at Randall's Island Park, and for its first edition, a single day on Governors Island. To celebrate the new location, Founders Entertainment co-founders Jordan Wolowitz (who also books the fest) and Tom Russell looked back on those previous years, starting with the first Governors Ball in 2011, and told us their favorite memory from each. Read their commentary, along with video clips they picked from each year, below.

Governors Ball 2023 features Kendrick Lamar, Lizzo, ODESZA, Lil Uzi Vert, Lil Baby, Lil Nas X, HAIM, Omar Apollo, Rina Sawayama, Kim Petras, Pusha T, Joey Bada$$, PinkPantheress, Koffee, Syd, 070 Shake, Saba, black midi, Maxo Kream, Amber Mark, Snail Mail, and more. Tickets are on sale now, and you can see the lineup in full below.




What can we say about the first ever Gov Ball? It had been our dream to bring a music festival to New York City for years, and to see it all come together was incredible. We were still in our mid-twenties, and were so nervous about taking on the risk of putting the festival on, but then tickets sold really well and we knew we’d struck a chord with New York City music fans. There were so many great performances that day, including from a young Mac Miller, but it all really hit home that we’d pulled it off when at the end of the night nearly 20k people were dancing their asses off to Girl Talk after a beautiful day of music on Governors Island.


In 2012 we moved the festival to Randall’s Island Park and expanded it to two days. With those changes we again found ourselves nervous about how music fans would respond, but New York City showed up! One of the most special performances that year among many came from Fiona Apple. We were honored to have our little upstart event be the first music festival she’d played in over half a decade and she didn’t disappoint with an absolutely raw and captivating performance.


2013 was probably one of the most memorable years in Gov Ball’s history. We expanded the festival to three days and had booked our biggest lineup yet, with Kanye West, Kings of Leon, Guns n’ Roses and a young Kendrick Lamar (a 2023 headliner) playing the festival. But our coming out party as a 3-day event was swamped on the first day by Tropical Storm Andrea, turning the fields into a muddy mess and cutting Friday evening’s performances short. But while there are surely still some shoes buried under the grass on Randall’s Island, our team responded to salvage the rest of the weekend. Friday night’s headliner Kings Of Leon were able to perform on Saturday for their fans after some lineup shuffling. And recent controversies aside, when Kanye West took the stage on Sunday night we’d be lying if the muddy field didn’t add to the atmosphere for the performance in support of his recently released album Yeezus.


If you had to ask us about a year when it finally felt like Governors Ball had fully arrived as a marquee music festival on the global stage, it was probably 2014. We’d left the chaos brought by Tropical Storm Andrea in the past and were blessed with a great weekend of weather for the 4th annual edition of the festival. Outkast set the stage on Friday night with an incredible performance to mark their comeback and first show in NYC in over a decade, and hometown heroes The Strokes performing during golden hour on Sunday evening to help close out 3 days of amazing music, the vibes were immaculate, and you couldn’t help but smile looking out at a field of 50,000 people fully enjoying a raucous rendition of “Last Nite”.


2015 was such a memorable year for us personally because we’d seen our little festival make it through half a decade of existence. Knowing how hard it is to put on a music festival that makes it past two or three years, let alone start one, it felt amazing to make it to year five. Especially in the NYC market, which had been notorious for failed adventures in music festival promotion in the years before we launched Gov Ball. Aside from the massive and energetic crowd for Drake, one of our favorite memories of that year has to be the amount of flower crowns being worn throughout the festival in honor of Lana Del Rey. We’d set up a build your own crown booth at the festival and by early in the afternoon we’d run out of flowers to hand out.


This year was definitely a roller coaster of emotion for the Governors Ball staff. Rain is never a friend when it comes to an outdoor live music event, but on rare occasions it can really add to the experience. With The Killers headlining on Saturday night, a brief downpour soaked the waiting crowd before they took the stage, but the fans were not deterred and seemed even more energized when the band tore into the opening bars of “Mr. Brightside” to begin their set. Hearing tens of thousands of people sing along to the chorus that night is one of those moments that remind us why we got into this work in the first place. Of course, the weather continued on Sunday and a forecast of strong storm systems with wind and lightning set to move through NYC throughout the day ultimately led us to the crushing but easy decision to cancel the remainder of the festival out of concern for the safety of our fans and staff.


One of our favorite memories from this year didn’t actually take place on stage, but still had to do with one of the performers. After Wu-Tang’s set on Saturday, Redman decided to stick around the festival for the rest of the weekend as a golf cart driver for the artist transportation department, bringing other artists like Chance The Rapper to and from the stage for their performances. It was a fun surprise for artists and staff alike, and Redman enjoyed it so much he ended up coming back to do the same job again in the years that followed.


It’s hard to beat seeing the Yeah Yeah Yeahs play "Maps" in front of any crowd, let alone a hometown crowd. Maybe even harder to top booking Eminem, who we’d grown up listening to (fun fact, Eminem shouted out Redman, who was back working at GovBall, for driving him to the stage for his set). But if we had to pick one lasting memory from that weekend it would probably be a 16 year old Billie Eilish taking the stage in the middle of the day to absolutely slay her set while the crowd completely lost it. It’s one of those moments where you can see the future for a young artist unfolding before your eyes. If you’d asked us then we’d have taken the odds on her coming back to the festival as a headliner one day, and of course she did just that in 2021.


With June 1st, the international kick-off to Pride Month, falling on the Saturday of the 2019 festival, we really leaned into celebrating the LGBTQ+ community that year. Pride marches led by local drag queens were scheduled daily, mini rainbow flags were available for all, and other celebrations of Pride took place throughout the weekend. It made for an incredibly festive atmosphere as we celebrated an important part of the Governors Ball community.


“Most of us wish 2020 could be removed from memory but it will live on in our hearts as the festival lineup that got away. We can only imagine how great it would have been to see Stevie Nicks, Missy Elliott, Tame Impala, Flume, Vampire Weekend, Solange, Miley Cyrus and more play Governors Ball in 2020 if not for COVID-19.


In 2021 we moved to a new venue (Citi Field), but more importantly live music made its return. We were on cloud nine the whole weekend as we watched kids line up early so they could run to the barricade for Billie Eilish, or strut in a little later wearing the festival fashion they hadn’t had an opportunity to show off for 18 months. It was amazing to see moments like Phoebe Bridgers joining Muna on stage for ‘Silk Chiffon’ before playing to her own massive crowd. Nothing sums up the feeling more than our memory of Caroline Polacheck breaking down in tears on stage as she described to the audience how good it felt to be back in front of her fans and performing again.


In 2022 we were really excited about having Kid Cudi at the festival. His live performances have been rare over the past years so it was a big coup to book him at the festival, especially as a Governors Ball alumni who’d last played the fest ten years earlier in 2012. He didn’t disappoint and the crowd was smiling as big as he was all throughout his set on stage. Another fun memory from last year involves an all time basketball great. It’s hard to understand just how big Shaquille O’Neal is until you’re standing right next to him. The only thing more eye opening than that experience was seeing how amazingly he commands the crowd as DJ Diesel. It’s the unexpected experiences that make music festivals great, and seeing a four time NBA champion rock the turntables with ease was one of them.


We can’t wait to make lifelong memories this summer, and we’re so excited for music fans to see what we have planned for our new setting in the iconic Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Our move to the park has been a decade in the making. Over the years we’ve aimed to prove ourselves to music fans, artists teams, and city stakeholders as a company that can put on great events and be a responsible partner and supporter of the communities in which those events are held. We’re beyond thrilled to see that hard work pay off, and for Governors Ball to finally have a home that is not only beautiful but also easily accessible. We think people are going to love it. We’ve been so honored to see our dream of bringing a world class music festival to New York City come true over the past decade, and look forward to Governors Ball being a part of the fabric of New York City and live music for many years to come.

Governors Ball 2023 updated

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