Panorama Fest, AEG's first effort at bringing Coachella into New York City, has officially kicked off. The 3-day event (ft. sets from Arcade Fire, Kendrick Lamar, and LCD Soundsystem) will be held on the popular festival grounds that Randall's Island has become—we're on site now, and here's what to expect if you're attending.
Three hours in, Panorama feels a bit empty and bland. This could partially be due to the minor detail of the color scheme: all white. But the white tents will help keep attendees cool throughout the weekend Heat Dome, so visual stimulation be damned.
It does seem clear, however, that unlike AEG's west coast Coachella, there is little in the way of art and ferris wheels. There is a wall depicting subway cars, though it's unclear what that is for at the moment (update: see below). There are also multiple ivory white HP-branded domes, however, which probably offer some sort of 3-D VR tech orgasm, but their lines are already long and this reporter came for the music.
A photo posted by Scott Lynch (@scoboco) on
For those heading in, note that will call lines for tickets were moving slowly Friday afternoon, and security was hit or miss—I was put through a five minute ringer of pat-downs and fine-tooth-comb bag checking, while others seemed able to breeze right through with nothing more than a pocket check. Your results may vary.
There are two water misting-stations where you can lay under a canopy of cool vapor. It’ll probably be a favorite congregating spot for the crowd as the heat goes on this weekend.
Bathroom areas are huge and comprised of high-end trailers, rather than porta-potties, and a few phone-charging stations are tucked near the grounds’ large covered bars and information tents. (There are a number of food & drink options.)
ATMs can also easily be found near the entrances and in the mid-section between Panorama’s two main stages, but according to multiple eyewitnesses, some are already broken or empty. Bring cash! Also bring sunscreen and/or a hat.
What can't you bring? Your dog, E-cigs, open packs of cigarettes, drugs, alcohol, selfie sticks!, hoverboards, kites, Chinese lanterns :(
And for those wondering "How the hell do I get there?," there are a multitude of options.
- SUBWAY: First and foremost, the simplest way is to ride the 4/5/6 subway to 125th Street, then get off and walk east to the RFK bridge. The entrance to the walking path is at 124th Street and 2nd Avenue, and from there it won't take long for you to see (and hear) the festival. It's a 10 minute stroll across the bridge before you hit the path leading down onto Randall's Island and onto the Panorama grounds.
- SUBWAY + BUS: Hoping to save every possible calorie of energy for the festival? Then ride the 4/5/6 to 125th Street, then take the X80 express bus. It departs from 125th and Lexington and drops you off at the festival entrance. Round-trip X80 tickets are $6.50 so make sure you've got some scratch on your MetroCard.
- BIKE: If you're biking, you can take either the same route on the RFK bridge OR seize the opportunity to cross the East River via the lovely and under-appreciated 103rd Street walkway, aka the Ward's Island Bridge. If you chose the latter, just be forewarned that you'll have to navigate the island's Harlem River Pathway northward until you reach Panorama's grounds and the bike parking that's been set up. That shouldn't be a deterrent, though! It's a beautiful ride and spares you from some of madness of First Avenue.
- FERRY: If you're in Manhattan and want to really go all-out, you can take a ferry up the East River to the grounds at Randall's Island. Tickets range from $25 single day passes to $65 for the entire weekend, and of the two option the ferries are actually a bit cheaper. Be forewarned, though, that in this reporter's experience the nighttime lines to get onto ferries leaving Randall's Island can be horrifically long, and once you do make it back to your Manhattan port of call, you'll likely still have to somehow commute back home.
- SHUTTLE: Panorama is also running bus shuttles from major rail hubs, including Hoboken, Jamaica, Atlantic Yard, Grand Central, Port Authority, and Penn Station. The shuttles are $14-17 round trip and are said to include "special surprises"—fun! You can reserve a ticket here.
- CAR? REALLY?: If you're planning on driving to the festival... just don't. In addition to expensive parking and busy traffic, this festival is going to be long, hot, loud, and loaded with mind-altering temptations. If you're driving into NYC from out of town, park your car somewhere near your crash pad and choose another commuting option. But if you insist, there are directions on Panorama's website.