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What to expect at Electric Zoo, NYC's annual Labor Day weekend EDM festival

The EDM festival stretches from Friday through Sunday.

Electric Zoo hits Randall's Island Park Labor Day

Electric Zoo hits Randall's Island Park Labor Day weekend. Photo Credit: Doug Van Sant

Your taste in music has most likely evolved within the past decade and Electric Zoo has, too. 

Last year, Made Event organizers threw what they called the "biggest, wildest party New York City has ever seen" to mark the EDM festival's 10th anniversary. For its 11th edition, they're celebrating the ways the event has changed and grown over the years. 

"It is said that change is not only a natural part of life but the only way to reveal true beauty," a statement from E-Zoo reads. "Just think about the metamorphosis that a caterpillar undergoes to become an exquisite butterfly. It’s pretty mind-blowing. Thus, we’ve taken such inspiration and tied it into this year’s theme, Electric Zoo: Evolved."

The debut E-Zoo in 2009 welcomed about 25,000 attendees, a quarter of the 2018 total. The annual Labor Day weekend music festival has become an end-of-summer tradition for fans of the electronic music genre that’s only growing in popularity on Billboard charts.

Since its inception, the founders have brought E-Zoo around the globe, creating pop-up replicas in Mexico, Brazil and China. Still, its three-day NYC run continues to be the most popular, selling out (some tickets are still available) year after year. A crowd of nearly 100,000 gather in Randall’s Island Park annually, according to organizers.

“From your great, gleaming skyscrapers to your filthy-a-- subway; the neon lights of Times Square to the fading memories of Coney Island; from the famous fuggedaboutit wiseguys to the lifelong friendships forged on dance floors, New York, you are the Big Apple in our eye and our constant source of inspiration. It’s been an honor to make you dance,” organizers said in a statement.

If you’re heading out to celebrate E-Zoo's evolution, while simultaneously saying so long to summer, here’s what you’ll want to know about the fest.

When and where?

The festival takes over Randall’s Island Park Aug. 30 through Sept. 1.  

Who is performing at Electric Zoo?

More than 100 DJs and EDM performers round out the lineup, led by headliners Diplo (Friday), Zedd (Saturday) and Skrillex (Sunday), among others. Three smaller stages placed around the park will accompany the main stage, as usual. Lineup highlights include New Jersey group Cash Cash, behind hits "Finest Hour" and "Take me Home," Kaskade (“On Your Mind”) and R3HAB (“Up All Night”). The full lineup is available at electriczoo.com/lineup.

What’s on this year’s vendor lineup?

Hot dogs, pizza, hamburgers and other quick-bite festival eats will be available from food stands, plus local New York City street vendors (like Buddharito) will be onsite. Beer, wine and champagne will be sold on the premises, but liquor will only be available in the VIP lounge.

Are Electric Zoo tickets still available?

Tickets are still up for grabs for the festival, but may not be around for long: three-day passes ($349), and entry for Friday ($109), Saturday ($139) and Sunday ($139) can still be purchased at electriczoo.com/tickets. The website warns Saturday single-day passes are almost sold out. 

How you can get there:

Randall’s Island is accessible by subway, bus and ferry, so you can party responsibly. E-Zoo is taking this seriously: No parking will be made available for those who drive (so don’t.)

If you opt to take the subway from midtown, the 4, 5 and 6 line is your best bet to get to 125th Street. From there, you’ll have to switch gears and hop on the X80 Express ($6.50 round trip). The X80 will run to and from Randall’s Island every 10 minutes starting at noon.

Another option that’ll help you avoid the bus: Ferries leave from and return to the East 35th Street Ferry Landing starting at 2:30 p.m. on Friday and 12:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday ($65 for a three-day ride, $34 for one).

To avoid Manhattan entirely, take E-Zoo’s Brooklyn shuttle from 61 Wythe Ave. Buses will run starting at 2 p.m. Friday and noon Saturday and Sunday. The last return ride leaves 30 minutes after the fest ends each night. A round-trip, three-day shuttle pass will cost you $64, while dailies start at $35.

What you should bring:

An epic festival-ready outfit and sunscreen. This weekend’s weather forecast predicts temps in the mid-80s, according to the National Weather Service. Lockers are available for day-long rental to store all your need-to-have belongings.

What you shouldn’t bring:

Your wallet. It’ll hard to keep track of belongings while dancing to Diplo’s “So Long.” Avoid sticky finger problems by trying out the “cashless” system within the festival. It hooks up your credit card and ticket to one wristband, so you’ll be able to easily flash it for drinks, food, entry and more.

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