The physical metafilters in the world
January 20, 2007 1:10 PM   Subscribe

Is there a list of global regular events where a huge number of people gather?

If there isn't a list, maybe you can help me compile it.

a) The event may be of any nature.
b) It must be a regular event, not one-off (like a state funeral), but the interval may be long, as in 12 years as with the Maha Kumbh Mela in India.
c) Huge numbers of people must congegrate, as in atleast 20-25,000 people at the low end. In one place. Within a short period of time.

What are all such occurences around the globe?

Off the top of my head, I list the following events

Mundane events:
a)Sporting events (football/soccer games, and many others)

Specific events:
a)New Year celebrations (i.e. Times Square)
b)Annual Hajj
c)World Cups (soccer, cricket) and Olympics
d)The Kumbh Melas as mentioned above
e)Some Catholic events at the Vatican??

What else? Most likely, someone will have already done this, but the nuanced search terms aren't popping into my head.
posted by daksya to Society & Culture (25 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Het Ghentse Feesten comprise the third largest city festival in Europe, after Fallas and Oktoberfest.

See LocalFestivities.
posted by phrontist at 1:15 PM on January 20, 2007

In Holland I stumbled upon a town-wide festival that seemed to have a medieval flavor to it, costumes, all-night revelry, all ages participating, some kind of effigy displayed -- it was called something like "oodle donk." I'm not finding it in google, maybe someone here knows what it is?
posted by StickyCarpet at 1:24 PM on January 20, 2007

The Indianapolis 500 is the world's largest single-day sporting event by attendance. "While the official attendance is not disclosed by Speedway management, news media estimate attendance in excess of 270,000."
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:36 PM on January 20, 2007

There is this
posted by empath at 1:39 PM on January 20, 2007

Response by poster: empath, those seem to be historical records with one-offs included.

Keep them coming, if there isn't a list.

Let me add few more myself:

The annual Ganesh Chaturthi in Bombay
US Presidential Inaugurations
Political Party Conventions
posted by daksya at 1:45 PM on January 20, 2007

You might want to set your attendance hurdle a little higher than 25,000, daksya, or you'll be importing most of Major League Baseball's games, some of minor league baseball, all the NFL games, all CFL games, most of NCAA Division I and some of Division II football, every pro soccer game on the planet, every NASCAR event, every NHRA National event, etc. At 100,000, you'll still get lots of major sporting events, but not thousands and thousands of generally forgettable entertainment events per year.

Unless, of course, that's the kind of ephemera you seek. 'Cause really, 25,000 people in this crowded world is little more than a big cocktail party.

As for whether such resources already exist, sure they do, all over the place. You might start with the Traveler's World Events Calendar in all its meta-goodness, and see where that leads you.
posted by paulsc at 2:33 PM on January 20, 2007

For the risk of antagonising, there's always Burning Man festival! 2005 saw approximately 35,600 participants. 2006 figures are yet to be in but some say it was closer to 40K
posted by floanna at 2:47 PM on January 20, 2007

Response by poster: paulsc, you make a good point about the low attendance threshold, but in those cases, the range of events can typucally be encapsulated as generic categories, like you just did e.g. "NFL games". Needless to say, the larger the attendance, the more significant the relevance.
posted by daksya at 2:55 PM on January 20, 2007

What's on When might be exactly what you're looking for. It is a comprehensive listing of large festivals and gatherings going on right now around the world, organized by date.
posted by deeparch at 2:56 PM on January 20, 2007

There are many such large gatherings in Washington, DC, such as the annual Independence Day celebrations on the Mall (several hundred thousand) and quadrennial Presidential Inagurations.

I suspect that some large marathons would fit your criteria for sporting events, since the number of runners alone sometimes exceeds 25,000. Then add in the spectators...
posted by Robert Angelo at 3:03 PM on January 20, 2007

whoops... missed your mention of the Inaugurations already -- sorry
posted by Robert Angelo at 3:24 PM on January 20, 2007

Burning Man seems to fit the bill huh?

And according to this time line, it seems the numbers are now well over your lower threshold, and continue to grow.
posted by mrhaydel at 3:25 PM on January 20, 2007

Well damn, floanna beat me to it, just sans links.

Oh well.
posted by mrhaydel at 3:39 PM on January 20, 2007

From the Aussie and Kiwi backpackers' list:

Anzac Day at Gallipoli
the running of the bulls at Pamploma
posted by pompomtom at 3:54 PM on January 20, 2007

the Rainbow Gathering
posted by belladonna at 3:55 PM on January 20, 2007

how about... ?
the tomatino in spain
big arts festivals like the edinburgh fringe
gay pride day in major queer cities like san francisco
the calgary stampede
election day in any major city
mardi gras
mexico's dia de los muertos
the superbowl
girls gone wild in daytona beach (grody)
posted by twistofrhyme at 6:21 PM on January 20, 2007

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe must be one?
posted by AthenaPolias at 7:30 PM on January 20, 2007

The Thaipusam Festivities in Batu Caves in Malaysia are MASSIVE.

Ekka! in Brisbane and the Royal Melbourne Festival (in, uh, Melbourne) are just as massive. They're both agricultural and farming showcases with pavillions for showbags and such.

The two Muslim Eids (Aidilfitri, the post-Ramadhan one, and Aidilahda, the Haj/sacrifice one) are quite big, though the gatherings are more spreaded out and their importance and size differs between countries. Aidilfitri is a big deal in Malaysia, with full mosques and people visiting each other or so, while Aidiladha is quieter. On the other hand, Aidiladha in Bangladesh is HUGE - every house will have lines of poor people waiting for a cut of meat, and for weeks beforehand there will be cows and goats all over the place.
posted by divabat at 8:17 PM on January 20, 2007

I'd imagine gay pride events in some cities to be pretty big too. Olympics? Commonwealth Games? Asian Games?
posted by divabat at 8:18 PM on January 20, 2007

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe must be one?

The fringe is only one of many festivals in Edinburgh in August - there's also the EIF (the original and official festival - hence 'fringe'), the EAF/Annuale, the EIBF, the EIFF - so it's the Edinburgh Festivals that are responsible for the city's population swelling during August, though the Fringe is responsible for bringing ~160,000 of those visitors.

I'm not sure Edinburgh Festivals fit the criteria, really - it's made up of thousands of small events, it's not clear how many of the Festivals' attendees are 'extra' (of 2.6 million attendances at last years Festivals, 30% of attendees were from Edinburgh, and around 15% of non-Scottish visitors stay in Glasgow and commute) and the various festivals run from late July to early September, so I don't know if that counts as 'a short period of time'.

posted by jack_mo at 1:34 AM on January 21, 2007

Taste of Chicago drew 3.6 million people over 10 days in 2006.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 3:02 AM on January 21, 2007

The Ann Arbor Art Fairs is a four-day event with four simultaneous, adjoining art fairs. It/they draw half a million people each year.
posted by ardgedee at 6:02 AM on January 21, 2007

The Detroit Electronic Music Festivals drew over a million people for each annual one-day event at its peak, although it's considerably less popular now.

State and county fairs have hundreds of thousands of attendees within two to four day spans. Major music festivals such as Montreaux and Rio expect hundreds of thousands or millions of attendees.
posted by ardgedee at 6:15 AM on January 21, 2007

Rally Argentina had 1.7 million spectators in 2006. This year they'll probably have a lot more. All the events in the World Rally Championship draw immense crowds, but Argentina takes top spot.

Le Mans should probably be on your list. I wan unable to find a reputable source with a number, but I've heard that 300,000 people go every year.

The World Scout Jamboree gathers over 25,000 boy scouts every four years.

It doesn't quite fit your description, but the Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage is done by 100,000 every year.
posted by Cobalt at 10:14 AM on January 21, 2007

Amplifying on ardgedee's comment, state fairs often have attendance in the hundreds of thousands, with the Texas State Fair listed at 3 million.
posted by Robert Angelo at 5:58 PM on January 21, 2007

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