Ahead of the return of New York’s biggest electronic music festival, learn about its COVID-19 safety policies, official afterparties, late-night food, navigating transit in the city, and more.
New York’s premier electronic music festival Electric Zoo is gearing up for its 12th edition this weekend. The “Supernaturals”-themed event will return to Randall’s Island Park—a lush green island sandwiched between Manhattan, Queens, and the Bronx on the East River—from September 3rd to 5th.
We’re here to help you find the best afterparties, navigate the festival’s COVID-19 protocols, figure out the smoothest way to get to Randall’s Island, and more.
Though New York City already has a vaccination mandate in place for indoor spaces like movie theaters and music venues, outdoor events like Electric Zoo are left to make COVID-19 entry decisions at their discretion.
Like other large stateside electronic music festivals, Electric Zoo is adapting its entry requirements in response to the pandemic. To gain entry to the festival, you must provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test. Those arriving at Electric Zoo with neither can submit to on-site testing, which costs upwards of $99.
Electric Zoo entry requirements for vaccinated attendees
Proof of a single dose of an FDA- or WHO-approved vaccine is sufficient for entry. These vaccines include Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca/Oxford, Sinopharm, and Sinovac.
Your paper vaccination card, a photo of your card, the NY State Excelsior Pass, or the NYC COVID SAFE app will be considered acceptable documentation.
Electric Zoo entry requirements for unvaccinated attendees
A negative COVID-19 test result must be obtained within 72 hours of the day you attend the festival. It’s important to note that if you’re unvaccinated and plan to attend all three days of Electric Zoo but took your test on Wednesday, you will need another test to enter on Sunday. To attend all three days of Electric Zoo with a single test, you must take your test on Thursday or Friday.
More details on Electric Zoo’s COVID-19 protocols can be found here.
How to get to Electric Zoo
New York City is a complex system of underground railways, subway systems, a tightly squeezed roadway system, and congested streets that make it very difficult to travel if you don’t know the way.
The Electric Zoo festival grounds are located on Randall’s Island, in the upper east side of the region, just across the Robert F. Kennedy (RFK) bridge east of East Harlem.
How to get to Electric Zoo via ferry
The easiest way to get to Electric Zoo is by ferry. You can buy a ferry pass here.
Ferries—which will run every 30 minutes all weekend long—depart from and return to the East 35th Street Ferry Landing located at the intersection of East 35th Street and FDR Drive. Within 20 minutes, the ferry will drop you off right at Randall’s Island while you enjoy gorgeous views of the Manhattan skyline on the East River.
In past years, ferries have also had surprise DJ performances on deck, like Above and Beyond in 2016.
Ferries are the most expensive option to get to Electric Zoo, costing about $70 for a weekend pass.
How to get to Electric Zoo via public transportation
Public transport via New York’s MTA is the most cost-effective way to get to Electric Zoo. Roundtrip subway rides cost $6.50.
In Manhattan, simply take the 4, 5, or 6 train to 125th Street station. Once you get off at 125th Street station, you can either walk across the RFK Bridge to Randall’s Island (which will take about 20 minutes), or you can save your legs for the festival and take the X80 Express Bus from 125th Street/Lexington Avenue station, which will drop you off at Randall’s Island directly.
The RFK bridge can also be crossed from Queens (30-minute walk) or the Bronx (15-minute walk) to get to Randall’s Island. If you’re in Queens, you can access the RFK bridge by taking the N or W subway lines to Astoria Blvd station, which is located next to the bridge. In the Bronx, you can take the 6 train to Cypress Av station, which is right by the RFK bridge.
Brooklyn dwellers may find it convenient to purchase an Electric Zoo Brooklyn shuttle pass (costing around $39 for a weekend pass), which will depart from and return to 61 Wythe Ave.
We don’t recommend using rideshare apps like Uber, Lyft, or Curb to get directly to Randall’s Island. Surge pricing due to other festival-goers heading the same way on top of the Labor Day weekend rush in New York will inflate your weekend expenses.
If you’d prefer the convenience of a rideshare app, avoid arriving directly at Randall’s Island. Instead, take a ride to the 125th Street subway station in Manhattan. Then, either walk the RFK bridge or take the X80 Express Bus to Randall’s Island.
At the end of the night, trying to hail a ride when leaving the festival grounds will be virtually impossible. To get off Randall’s Island, you can walk the RFK bridge, take the X80 Express Bus, board a ferry, or take the Brooklyn shuttle.
Keep up to date with service alerts and delay on the MTA website. Before heading to the subway, be sure to check the website to make sure there’s good service on the line you’re planning to use since subway delays occur frequently.
Plan with set times for Electric Zoo
Electric Zoo has an impressive slate of DJs across the electronic music spectrum, such as Alesso, Zeds Dead, Kaskade, ILLENIUM, and deadmau5’s TESTPILOT alias. There’s something for everyone across all three days.
The festival’s stages are relatively close to each other so you’ll have no problem stage-hopping to split time between any conflicting acts.
Explore Electric Zoo’s set times below.
Food and Drink at Electric Zoo
New York City is revered for its culinary delights and Electric Zoo is following suit. Calling on a host of local street vendors and food trucks, the festival will offer everything from refreshments like lemonade and bubble tea to savory treats like Sicilian riceballs and Caribbean tacos.
The festival is 100% cashless. You can top-up your wristband online, ahead of time, here (there’s a $5 bonus for every $150 added before September 2nd), or at the various top-up stalls on-site at the festival. Any remaining balance on your wristband will automatically be refunded. However, there will be a $5 processing fee and potentially slow turnarounds.
Electric Zoo 2021 weather
The weather for Electric Zoo is looking good. Coming out of a hot and humid stretch of summer, New York is expecting smoother weather, with temperature highs in the mid-seventies and lows in the sixties.
Unfortunately, Labor Day weekend in New York is notorious for downpours. Although Electric Zoo is a rain or shine event and event staff will hand out ponchos in case of rain, it can’t hurt to pack clothing in anticipation of rain.
Be mindful of your belongings and your surroundings. Like most big-city festivals, Electric Zoo has had occurrences of organized phone theft in past years. Here are some best practices to avoid phone theft.
Electric Zoo 2021 afterparty guide and transportation
After the festival concludes each night, you will have multiple options of travel to each afterparty destination.
These include taxi cabs, rideshare apps like Uber and Lyft, and subway and bus systems. We will guide you to all four different venues hosting after-hours events via the subway.
Randalls Island (Electric Zoo Festival Grounds) to Avant Gardner in Brooklyn
The first afterhours venue we will guide you to is the Avant Gardner in Brooklyn. The Avant Gardner will host many afterparties with their multi-room, 80,000 square foot venue grounds, including those featuring FISHER, Zeds Dead, and a Brownies & Lemonade Special Guests all-night afterparty spread across Brooklyn Mirage, Kings Hall, and the Great Hall. Each venue shares the same address.
The Avant Gardner is located at 140 Stewart Avenue, Brooklyn, New York 11237, near East Williamsburg. To view on Google maps, navigate here.
To get here from Randall’s Island via the subway system, you will first want to cross the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge into East Harlem and make your way to 125th street, where you will board the 4 (express) train (green) heading south to downtown.
You will get off this train when it reaches the 14th St – Union Square station. The next train you’ll board is the L train heading east into Brooklyn, and you’ll ride it until you get to the Jefferson St. station.
Here you will get off the train and walk north up Flushing Ave for two blocks until you reach Scott Ave. Then you will turn left onto Scott Ave, walk a few blocks and cross over the train tracks using the footbridge. Finally, you will turn left on Meserole St and walk two more blocks, and The Avant Gardner venue will be on your left.
Randalls Island (Electric Zoo Festival Grounds) To Quantum Brooklyn
Quantum Brooklyn will host many events throughout the weekend, including Sonny Fodera, Dom Dolla, and more.
Quantum Brooklyn is located at 177 2nd Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11215. To view on Google Maps, navigate here. To get here from the festival grounds, you will first want to cross the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge into East Harlem and make your way to the 125th St Subway station, boarding the 4-6 train heading south to downtown at East 125th St & Lexington Ave.
You will ride this train until you get to 59th St-Lexington Av. Here you will get off the 4-6 train and walk three blocks from 59th street to 63rd street. You will then get on the Lexington Av 63rd St train and ride it until you reach the 4 Av-9th street station.
You will get off here and walk down 4th street until reaching 14th St, turn right onto 14th St and walk two blocks until 2nd Ave. Turn right, and on the end of the block, at the corner of 2nd and 14th on your right side will be Quantum Brooklyn’s venue. The walk is approximately five blocks.
Randalls Island (Electric Zoo festival grounds) to Webster Hall
Located in between NOHO and Union Square, Webster Hall will be the most accessible venue to travel to compared to the others because it is the only after-party in Manhattan.
Webster Hall is located at 125 East 11th Street, New York, NY 10003. To view on Google Maps, navigate here.
The iconic New York venue will host some massive events all weekend, including Ekali, Audien, Alan Walker, and more. To get to Webster Hall, you will first want to walk across the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge into East Harlem and make your way to the 125th St subway station.
The 125th St subway station is located on East 125th St & Lexington Ave. Here you will get onto the 4-6 train heading south towards downtown. You will ride the 4 (express) train until you reach your stop at the 14 St Union Square station. Here you will get off the train and walk south down 4th Ave until reaching East 11th Street. Turn left onto East 11th St and walk down half a block until you see Webster Hall on your left side.
To recap, if you plan on attending any of the after-parties held at Kings Hall, The Brooklyn Mirage, or Great Hall, you will follow the directions for Avant Gardner. If you want to look at the New York Subway map for yourself, you can see all the routes, lines and even view the live subway map in real-time here.
It’s important to remember that trains are not uncommon to run much slower and less frequently when traveling on the subway at night. Be prepared for unpredicted delays that may take up to half an hour before getting on your train. You’ll also want to make sure you are looking at the map designated for nighttime, as not all trains run during the night.
If you are interested in other forms of transportation, the MTA offers Bus maps here. Although, we strongly recommend using the Subway system and Rideshare apps such as Uber, Lyft, and Yellow Taxi Cabs first.
Late-night eateries and restaurants near the after-parties
If you’re looking for a savory bite to eat after the festival but before heading to the after-parties, options are plentiful. EDM.com put together a list of the most accessible options nearest to all of the venues.
Before leaving East Harlem, you can stop by Dallas Chicken & Biscuits at 2027 Lexington Ave for quick takeout, closing at 2AM. You can also visit Santigo’s Beer Garden on 1st Ave for Dominican meals and a drink, closing at 11PM. These restaurants are both within reasonable walking distance of the 125 St subway station, should you want to go to the after-parties after.
For those who want to eat food near their after-party of choice, we’ll start with Webster Hall. Nearest to Webster Hall, you have Cathédrale Restaurant, a French-Mediterranean dining room that serves classic dishes. This restaurant is located directly across the street from Webster Hall on 11th street and closes at 12:30PM.
Alternatively, around the corner from Webster Hall, situated on 3rd Ave, is the Westside Market. Open 24 hours, this market offers in-store shopping, allowing you to grab a few quick snacks, groceries, or drinks before heading inside Webster.
Lastly, if you took the subway from Randalls Island to Webster Hall, as you walk from the subway station to the venue, walk past Webster Hall and make a right on 3rd Ave, walk down the corner to E 10th St and around the corner on your right, you will find Healthy Greens Gourmet. Open 24 hours, this market will be located on the left side of the road and offers everything from quick snacks to chicken quesadillas, Philly cheesesteaks, and more.
Jumping across the East River to Brooklyn, there are a few late-night options if you’re at the Avant Gardner, Kings Hall, Great Hall, or Brooklyn Mirage. The Starr Bar is an Artsy hangout serving cocktails and vegan barbeque and is open late until 2AM. Starr Bar is located at 214 Starr St and is about ten blocks south of the Avant Gardner. Many restaurants in the area close between 10PM and midnight, so be sure to plan accordingly.
If you are down at Quantum Brooklyn, look no further than Empanada Loca, a bustling Pan-Latin American cafe with everything from Empanadas to Chicken Melts, Salads, Street Tacos, and Cheeseburgers. They even have a full breakfast menu with everything you’d expect from eggs to pancakes, breakfast burritos, and more, open 24 hours. Empanada Loca is located at 606 5th Ave, Brooklyn, NY., and is situated six blocks from Quantum Brooklyn.
There is food in abundance in New York City. Just make sure that restaurants are open before traveling across town to go to one because even though this is the City That Never Sleeps, not all restaurants stay open late.
Our last tip of advice: make sure to drink plenty of water, stay hydrated, and check in on your buddies and mates so we can all stay safe and have fun.