temporary and scheduled happening, like a conference, festival, competition or similar
Travel topics > Events

Many cities have regular big cultural and sporting events, which draw tens of thousands of participants and lock up accommodation and transport; but it’s generally just for a day or so. Those listed here are really really big events, which may draw millions, locking up not just the city but much of the country over an extended period. If you aim to be there, especially as an independent traveller, you must plan over a year in advance. If you’re not interested in the event itself, come another time, perhaps a few months later when the place has returned to normal but all the new infrastructure and amenities are there for you. What you can't do is dabble, going to the area thinking you might sort-of drop in on the event, as mega-crowds will be ahead of you.

Upcoming events edit

Paris Olympics of 2024: you need to book soon
Big sports tournaments are synchronised with the four-year Olympic cycle, so dates and venues are usually announced at least that far ahead. In recent years, Olympics and FIFA World Cups have been announced even farther in advance (for example, the 2028 and 2032 Summer Olympic hosts, respectively Los Angeles and Brisbane, were determined more than a decade in advance).
  • 14 - 19 June 2024 (1445 AH): Hajj in Mecca - The key pilgrimage in Islam, drawing some 2 million registered pilgrims. Another million may attend unofficially, as they live in the region and don’t need visas. Most pilgrims also visit Medina 450 km northeast.
  • 14 June - 14 July 2024: UEFA Euro Finals across Germany. 24 men's national soccer teams will compete, playing in Berlin, Munich, Dortmund, Gelsenkirchen, Stuttgart, Hamburg, Düsseldorf, Cologne, Leipzig and Frankfurt. Just over a million attended the covid-blighted 2020 Finals (postponed to 2021) so the audience of 2024 will probably be much greater. Fans know where their own team will play in the early stages, but the varied fortunes of the tournament mean they don't know their later venues. So this creates a huge travelling army trying to book last-minute accommodation and transport to cities the far side of the country.
  • 29 June - 21 July 2024: Tour de France is the world's premier on-road men's cycle race. In 2024 it starts in Florence and tours Italy for three days; on Day 4 they cross the Alps to continue across France. This Tour is a week earlier than usual, and - uniquely - ends in Nice not Paris, to avoid the capital on the eve of the Olympic Games. It's a huge event because of the size of the sporting and commercial entourages, and the roving spectators. Especially in the mountains with only a single connecting road, whole areas become locked down, and even fire trucks struggle for access. Giro in Italy in May and Vuelta in Spain in Aug / Sept are locally disruptive but on nothing like this scale. The conclusion of the men's race is usually also the start of the women's Tour, held over a week, but this is postponed until after the Olympics: 12-18 Aug, starting in Rotterdam.
Paris?? Yes, 2024 Olympic surfing is in Tahiti
  • 26 July – 11 Aug 2024: Summer Olympics (XXXIII), Paris. The concept is that Olympics are hosted by a city, not a country. The reality is that they embroil the nation, especially with such a central metropolis and transport hub as Paris. There are also events in Lille, Marseille, Lyon, Saint-Étienne, Bordeaux, Nice and Nantes, and you'll need to set off especially early to watch the surfing. That's at Teahupo'o in Tahiti, 15,716 km from the host city. (The host of the 2028 Summer Olympics, Los Angeles, is a whole lot closer.)
  • 4 - 9 June 2025 (1446 AH): Hajj in Mecca - because it follows a lunar calendar (not a solar-lunar calendar like Easter), it falls 10 to 11 days earlier each year.
  • June / July 2025: Africa Cup of Nations held in Morocco, with 24 men's national soccer teams competing. It was to be in Guinea, but their facilities were inadequate. Dates are not yet decided. The host venues are Tangier Ibn Batouta Stadium, Rabat Moulay Abdellah Stadium, Casablanca Mohammed V Stadium, Agadir Adrar Stadium, Marrakech stadium, and Fez Stadium.
  • July 2025: Tour de France. The dates, start city and route are not yet announced.
  • July 2025: UEFA Women's Euro Finals in Switzerland for national soccer teams. Previous women's tournaments were big events but not mega-big on the scale of the men's. But the delayed 2021 Euros and the 2023 World Cup in Australia / NZ has boosted the audience and participation in women's soccer. Host cities are Basel, Bern, Geneva, Zurich, St Gallen, Lucerne, Sion and Thun.
  • 22 Aug - 27 Sept 2025: Women's Rugby World Cup (union) in England for 16 national teams. As with soccer, women's RU is starting to draw large audiences. Matches are at London Twickenham, Brighton & Hove Albion Stadium, Bristol Ashton Gate, Exeter Sandy Park, Northampton Franklin's Gardens, York Community Stadium, Salford Community Stadium near Manchester, and Sunderland Stadium of Light.
Marrakech hosts games in AFCON 2025
  • 6 - 22 Feb 2026: Winter Olympics (XXV) in Milan, Cortina d'Ampezzo and half a dozen other resorts in the northeast of Italy. This area is well developed for visitors and has fairly reliable snow. (The 2028 host city is not yet decided. Bids are likely from Barcelona-Andorra, Sapporo, Vancouver-Whistler and Salt Lake City.)
  • 11 June – 19 July 2026: FIFA World Cup Finals in the USA, Canada and Mexico. This is the top soccer tournament for men’s national teams, with 48 nations participating. The three host nations automatically qualify, and the others will be known by the end of 2025. There are 16 host cities, grouped into three divisions to reduce travelling distance somewhat, but everyone involved will still have to cover a lot of ground. The three are Vancouver, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Guadalajara in the Western Division; Kansas City, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Monterrey, and Mexico City in the Central Division; and Toronto, Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, and Miami in the Eastern Division. Note that the San Francisco, Los Angeles, Dallas, Boston, New York City, and Miami venues are not within the named cities, but instead in suburban areas that are some distance from the heart of the city. All matches in the knockout rounds will be held in the States, with the final in East Rutherford, New Jersey (the "New York City" venue).
  • Jan 2027: AFC Asian Cup in Saudi Arabia, with 24 men's national soccer teams competing. Those nations will be known by the end of March 2026, when the three qualification rounds are completed. (Although Saudi Arabia is guaranteed a place as hosts, they are playing in the second round, which doubles as a qualifier for the 2026 World Cup.) The Asian finals will be played at five stadiums in Riyadh, two in Jeddah, two in Dammam and one in Khobar. (Hosts for 2031 are not yet decided.) Many of the stadiums used for this event will be reused when Saudi Arabia hosts the 2034 World Cup.
  • June - July 2027: FIFA Women's World Cup for national soccer teams. The hosts are to be determined in May 2024, with bids from Germany Belgium and Netherlands combined, South Africa, Brazil, and a combined bid from Mexico and the United states.
  • June – July 2027: Africa Cup of Nations will be jointly hosted by Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. (Hosts for 2029 are not yet decided.)
  • 1 Oct - 13 Nov 2027: Rugby Union World Cup in Australia, with 24 men's national teams competing. The venues are not yet announced but are likely to involve all the major Australian cities.
  • June - July 2028: UEFA Euro Finals across the UK and Ireland, with 24 men's national soccer teams competing. As there are five host nations, they can't all qualify automatically, but will have to scrap it out in qualification groups. The host venues are London Wembley and Tottenham Hotspur stadiums, Birmingham Villa Park, Cardiff Millennium Stadium, City of Manchester Stadium, Liverpool Everton stadium, Newcastle upon Tyne St James' Park, Glasgow Hampden Park, Dublin Aviva Stadium and Belfast Casement Park.
  • June - July 2030: FIFA World Cup in Morocco, Portugal, and Spain, with opening matches to be held in Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay. The 100th anniversary of the (men's) World Cup will see the event encompass three continents. The three South American countries will open the event, mainly as a call-back to the very first edition, which saw Uruguay's capital of Montevideo host the entire event. The Iberian countries and Morocco will host the remainder. The exact schedule, as well as the Spanish host cities, have yet to be announced, but the final is expected to be held at Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, home to legendary club Real Madrid.

Stay safe edit

Dublin Aviva Stadium

It is quite remarkable how little illness, accidents or crime is recorded at mega-events such as the Olympics, considering their huge and not always sober audiences. Partly that's under-reporting but it also reflects the security that cloaks the event, and an inherently healthy set of travelers. Standard advice about care of valuables and avoiding drunks, low-life and traffic should see you through.

The game-changer in 2020 and 2021 of course was the COVID-19 pandemic. As of 2024 this looks to be following the same trajectory as past flu pandemics: from being a global year-round wildfire it's settling into being a winter (or wet season) upsurge controlled by immunisation and rising natural immunity. But if anything could spark a resurgence, it would be the huge crowds at the events described above. Even if they were minded to, those people couldn't "social distance" in the stadium, nor in the congestion around the stadium, on public transport, in pubs or in outdoor big-screen viewing areas. And the problems start well before you arrive, since you must plan and book well in advance, yet the event may be cancelled or the host country not let you in or impose onerous conditions. Big multi-national events can only be as safe as the participating nation with the weakest covid-control.

In less developed places, consider the conventional risks of crowd collapse (as at Hillsborough, Sheffield in 1989) or of transport catastrophes eg through over-crowded ferries capsizing.

See also edit

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