All Articles
All Articles

Fête Paradiso

An early 20th century French carnival is recreated on Governors Island

by Nara Shin
on 11 July 2013

Just in time for Bastille Day, Fête Paradiso—the world's first festival of vintage carousels and carnival rides—has landed in New York City for its US debut, offering visitors to Governors Island a time-traveling glimpse at the history of Parisian carnival culture. The archival display features six revolutionary rides from the turn of 20th century Europe, which is considered the "Golden Age of carousel art" due to the significant transition from using humans and animals to power the rides to ornately decorated, steam-powered operations that offered thrilling new speeds.


Fête Paradiso is made possible by two collectors, Regis Masclet and Francis Staub (the cookware designer)—the latter who had recently purchased the majority of the renowned Fabienne and François Marchal collection. Eschewing a museum exhibition showcasing the rides as artifacts, Masclet and Staub chose instead to organize a traveling festival to recreate the carnival experience. But these rare amusements aren't just outdoor eye-candy—each attraction was meticulously reconstructed by a family of artisans from Rennes, France who specialize in high-quality carousel reparation.


One attraction particularly exemplary of this exciting time period is the bicycle carousel. Tristan Duval, the producer of Paris-based cultural events company Community, humorously notes, "This is the first CitiBike of New York." Created in 1889 when horses were no longer allowed in the city of Paris, the bike carousel was an actual learning tool for teaching common people how to cycle (the wealthy had personal tutors) as a mode of transportation. This was the same year as the World's Fair in Paris, as well as the same year they built the Eiffel Tower, which this bicycle carousel was stationed under during that time. "There are only two pieces like this in the world: one is at Musée des Arts Forains and now one is on Governors Island for your enjoyment," Duval explains, adding, "Two in the world left, and this one is one that functions on a regular basis."


To further reinforce the experience of a historical Parisian street fair, there will be sideshow performances and live period music, as well as games like the early 20th century Music Hall Ball Guzzler. Simply throw the ball into mouth of the life-size caricature of Charlie Chaplin, and other celebrities from that era, and win a free drink from Le Gamin—a familiar New York favorite and official Fête Paradiso food and drink vendor. French-born chef Christophe Breat will be serving classic French carnival fare near a bumper-car pavilion from 1900, which has been transformed into a beer and wine pavilion.


Experience how Parisians in the late 19th century entertained themselves. Admission to Fête Paradiso is free and the festival is open every weekend at Governors Island, from 13 July through 29 September 2013. Visit the website for more.

See more images of Fête Paradiso in the slideshow.

Images by Greg Stefano; additional reporting by Karen Day

The CH25 is a showcase of creators and innovators from a broad range of disciplines who are currently working to drive the world forward.

Melissa Kushner

Addressing the needs of orphans and vulnerable children in Malawi through microenterprise

Read More
Poverty is complicated, there is an increasing temptation and pressure in the development space to oversimplify things

Matt Kenyon

Fusing art and technology to disrupt concepts of corporate America

Read More
I want the work to live in the world and circulate, so it can generate more dialogue

Tarren Wolfe

The next-generation appliance making kitchens greener—literally

Read More
Our goal is to provide food for everyone in the world, and the best place to start is in our very own community

Sabine Seymour

A future where smart clothes are as ubiquitous as zippers

Read More
In the future you will not buy a piece of 'functional' clothing without SoftSpot

Cynthia Breazeal

How an emotional, empathetic robot named Jibo stands to revolutionize communication

Read More
The thing that's so provocative about social robots is that it's fundamentally a community technology

Sarah Kunst

The entrepreneur single-handedly changing the landscape for women in tech

Read More
People who live on a planet that is half women but can never seem to find any when they need one, I have solved your problem

Corinne Joachim Sanon

The chocolatier bringing social change to Haiti and bean-to-bar chocolate to the world

Read More
Seeing the poverty surrounding me and the lack of jobs and opportunity bothered me

Lulu Mickelson

A civic leader bringing change to NYC through design

Read More
Human-centered design is one of the many tools that we can use to better engage the public

Dan Barasch + James Ramsey

A quest to make the future brighter—underground

Read More
We both share a passion for groundbreaking technology and a shared love of New York

Tal Danino

The bioengineer who’s programming DNA to fight cancer

Read More
[Manipulating genes] is very new, people are just learning how to program these organisms

Marcus Weller

Using technology to turn motorcycle helmet design on its head

Read More
I was taken aback both by the number of people that doubted it, and by the equally large number of people that got behind it

Jonathan Sparks

Reinventing electronic music by inventing multi-disciplinary instruments

Read More
Recorded music is becoming so cheap, so the value of music is now in live performance

Joshua Harker

Pushing the boundaries of sculpture with intricate 3D printing

Read More
My intent was to explore and depict the architecture of the imagination, to interpret and share forms evident in the mind’s eye

Roxie Darling

From un-shampoo to transgender identity, the NYC colorist boldly defining the next chapter of hair

Read More
Hair color is as much a science as it is a craft

Leopoldine Huyghues Despointes

The young filmmaker and non-profit founder who just wants people to follow their dreams

Read More
I feel confident and ready to accomplish so much more, the movement is on

George Arriola and Monohm

An heirloom electronic for the post-smartphone era

Read More
We agonized during the design process as all hyper-obsessed craftspeople should

LaToya Ruby Frazier

Documenting the slow, troubling change in Braddock, Pennsylvania

Read More
I am not a journalist, I am a conceptual documentary artist using my visual expression for building narratives that are unseen and unheard

Douglas Riboud + Justin Guilbert

How a mission to create great coconut water led to a whole new way of doing business

Read More
We’ve made a conscious decision to be as transparent and honest as we can, and let people decide for themselves

Pauline van Dongen

The Dutch designer blazing the wearable technology path

Read More
I’m fascinated by concepts of change, movement, energy and perception; since they are closely related to the way we experience the world

Alex Kalman

The tiny museum in Manhattan that’s redefining museums

Read More
The mission is to put this small simple and powerful tool into the hands of as many people as possible

Eelke Plasmeijer

The locally driven restaurant that’s upending Balinese food culture

Read More
We really try to keep things simple and let the produce do the talking

Meredith Perry

How searching the Internet helped a 22-year-old invent wireless electricity

Read More
It’s not about where the information is, it’s about how you use the tools

Kegan Schouwenburg

Revolutionizing orthotics through 3D-printed insoles

Read More
What orthotics do is they effectively change the geometry of what your alignment is like

Vanessa Newman

Redesigning pregnancy for the post-gender generation with Butchbaby & Co.

Read More
I want my customers to feel comfortable and unchanged, in that becoming pregnant didn't take away from or compromise their identity

Kathleen Supové

The NYC performance artist who’s radically reinventing the piano recital

Read More
I like pieces that are virtuosic, that show off the piano and what it can do, and are awe-inspiring
Loading More...