A Parisian-style fairground in NYC
Among Fête Paradiso’s attractions is a late 19th-century bicycle carousel that’s powered in part by pedalling riders. It is one of only two in existence today. (Amy Brader)
With a century’s worth of vintage French carnival rides dating back to the mid- 1800s, New York City’s Fête Paradiso is a Parisian-style celebration of a bygone era.
Among the attractions at the weekend Governors Island festival are flying chair rides, boat-shaped swings and carousels with hand-carved wooden animals for seats. There’s also an impressively dizzying dragon carousel and an 1892 Velocipedes – a bicycle carousel that’s powered in part by pedalling riders.
Other carnival structures dot the lawn, including a 1910 bumper car pavilion-turned-beer garden, where festival-goers can recharge with French-inspired fare or one of several “Paradiso” cocktails from the wine bar. Sounds of jaunty pipe organ tunes and striped shirt-clad “carnies” hawking games add to the flair.
Everything on display belongs to two collectors, Francis Staub and Regis Masclet, who, rather than showcasing their antiques in a museum, opted to create a living, breathing carnival.
Fête Paradiso is open from 10:30 am to 6:30 pm on weekends through 29 September. Admission is free, but all rides and games require tickets which can be purchased at the on-site box office for $3 each or 10 for $25.
Amy Brader is the New York City Localite for BBC Travel.