Pokémon GO Fest New York City: My Experience

When GO Fest NYC was announced, I was so hyped that I bought my tickets IMMEDIATELY. I had been dying to go to an in-person event in Pokémon GO because I had heard so many good stories from others who had been to one before. Everyday leading up to the 19th, I had been thinking about how many shinies I would get, and how the event look like in-person.

City Experience

New York City Pokémon GO
New York City Pokémon GO

I only live an hour away from New York City, so I had been there countless times and knew all the good places to spend my City Experience. I reached Manhattan a bit late though, because of the traffic on the highways and the Lincoln Tunnel. NYC has always been one of the busiest and most crowded places on Earth. It is a very popular place for tourists, and also for Pokémon GO players! Every single PokéStop in the area was lured up, and the presence of so many trainers made raiding a whole lot quicker and easier. 

Upon arriving to New York on Saturday, I spent most of my time playing in the Upper East Side. It was quite beautiful looking at the East River and staring into the dense city of Brooklyn. This area was a little less crowded compared to Midtown Manhattan, but I personally enjoyed playing next to water.

I eventually had to run off to Central Park because apparently there was a Hundo Nosepass “callout”. I did manage to get to it before it despawned, but it wasn’t a Shundo sadly. Still pretty cool! After that, I stayed in Central Park for an hour or so. Had some sandwiches for lunch, sitting down in the open grass. Yes, it was quite refreshing, a rest to my legs and I was getting hungry anyways 😅. After lunch, my GO Plus+ did all the work, while I was exploring the Central Park observatories and gardens. Eventually, it was time to head to Randall’s Island Park for my Park Gameplay. It was a 40-minute walk through Ward’s Island Bridge, but I made it before 3PM. 

Park Experience

Pokémon GO Fest 2023 New York City
Pokémon GO Fest 2023 New York City

Since this was my first ever in-person GO Fest event, seeing thousands of players playing Pokémon GO was absolutely surreal. I had never seen so many people walking and laughing and staring at their phones, trying to catch shinies. I live in a suburban area so finding others who played Pokémon GO was almost impossible. Simply looking at the amount of people that were there had me emotional. 

I spent most of my last four hours meeting up with my friends to do some special trades that we had planned months earlier, and walking around the park. 

I also spent some time at the “Meet The Artist” station and got to learn some stuff from the designers and animators for Pokémon GO! They even gave me a paper “Souvenir” to make myself! And then I ran off to take a selfie with Pikachu! 

The rest of my Park Experience was spent walking around the Park, completing field research and doing raids – while my GO Plus+ was busy catching and spinning.(Yes, 5 shinies did run unfortunately, but it caught me so much more!)

My Opinion

Personally, I believe that this event was a HUGE success. I really like this “Exploration” aspect of Pokémon GO. It makes us enjoy the beautiful places around us, and meet new friends who have the same interests and hobbies as us. 

The event setup was overall pretty solid. The Team Lounges were a really nice addition – you could chill out there, have some fun with trivia, and collect your Team Pins to show support, and I did just that. The Water refill Stations and the huge PokéStop recharge area were really useful too. Something else that I really appreciated were the flags located around the park indicating the specific habitats.

The city experience was pretty nice too. NYC is already a hot destination for people to visit and explore, and I would argue that because of GO Fest – there were even more crowds. Crowds of people chasing towards a hundo or jumping into raid lobbies.

However, the Verizon Outage on Saturday was a huge problem. Anyone who had Verizon network on their phones couldn’t log in to the game during their park hours. The 3 extended hours were nice, but they unfortunately didn’t make up for the lost Park time. 

Randall’s Island Park is one of the lesser known parks in NYC. Not only that, it was also very difficult to reach there. The event was located only on the top portion of the island, which required a lot of walking if you were coming through the Ward’s Island Bridge. Most of the officials and guards there had no idea, either! When me and a few others asked them about the exits and other areas about the park, they didn’t know. I hope this is fixed by next year! 

Overall, the positives of this event outweigh the negatives so I consider it a success!


Time flew by so quickly, that eventually GO Fest was over. I was kind of bummed it had to end, but as they all say – “Don’t cry because it’s over – smile because it happened”. (Dr. Seuss)

Ended the day with tons of shinies to go home with, my feet being dead, 0 PokéBalls in the inventory and a 12 hour sleep (that my GO Plus+ counted as 7 lol). 

I already cannot wait for GO Fest 2024. Hope to see you there next year, trainer(s)!

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An enthusiastic Pokémon GO player and writer.

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