The return of big events and reasons to be optimistic.

There is no doubt that the Coronavirus pandemic has had a devastating impact globally. With businesses, travel, tourism and entire economies shut down. Not to mention the millions of lives lost—it has been a difficult period for us all.  

However, with global vaccine programs making significant progress as well as the natural immunity built up within populations, the world is slowly starting to open up again. There are definite signs for optimism and hopefully, we can all return to some sense of normalcy very soon. 

To demonstrate how close we may be, this post will look at some of the large events popping up all over the world.  

New Zealand

New Zealand has been globally applauded for how they have managed the Coronavirus outbreak. Of course, being sparsely populated and somewhat geographically isolated has helped. However, a combination of swift lockdown measures, border closures and track and trace efforts have all but eradicated the virus from New Zealand. In fact, masks are rarely worn in New Zealand and there are no social distancing measures in force.

As a result, New Zealand has been able to put on a number of events attended by large crowds. Just a couple of weeks back, more than 50,000 fans packed into New Zealand’s largest sports stadium, Eden Park, to watch the band Six60 perform. This is believed to be the largest concert since the start of the pandemic.

With no social distancing requirements in place, this is a reminder of what life used to be like and a sign of what we can expect globally in the future. To add to this optimism, New Zealand has recently announced a travel bubble with neighbours Australia. We won’t go into travel bubbles too much here as that is a topic for a future post!


Australia, like their Kiwi neighbours, has had a relatively successful response to the pandemic. At the time of writing, only a couple hundred reported cases remain nationwide.

It’s no surprise then, that Australia is starting to open up to larger gatherings. What is surprising, however, is the size of these gatherings.

On April 25th, over 78,000 people attended an Aussie Rules Football match between the Collingwood Magpies and Essendon Bombers. This is thought to be the largest crowd at any sporting event since the pandemic struck.

The venue wasn’t at maximum capacity, however. The Melbourne Cricket Ground, where the game was played, can hold up to 100,000 people. Authorities capped attendance at 85% to allow for some social distancing to take place.


With those large-scale events covered, we can now take a look at a few smaller pilot events in some of the nations most heavily impacted by the virus.

First, we turn to Spain. Spain was rocked by the virus with over 3.5m recorded cases. Nonetheless, there is still reason for optimism in Spain. Their vaccine program is making good progress, the monthly death toll has fallen to the lowest point since last summer and they plan to welcome more tourists from June.

With this in mind, small-scale experiments are starting. On 27th March, 5,000 people attended a concert at Barcelona's Palau Sant Jordi arena as part of a series of pilot events designed to test the effectiveness of rapid Coronavirus testing as a way of preventing infections at large events.

2 weeks later and only 6 people tested positive for Coronavirus. This was generally viewed as a success, as this was a lower infection rate than the general population.

United Kingdom

With over half the population of the UK having received their first dose of the vaccine, there is cause for optimism here too. The British government has recently relaxed strict lockdown measures, with the goal to end social contact restrictions by June 21st.

With this in mind, some smaller gatherings have been authorised. The league cup final, which saw Manchester City beat Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 on the 25th of April, was played in front of 8,000 fans. The plan is to allow 21,000 fans at the FA Cup final on the 15th of May. Anyone in attendance will need to prove they have had a negative lateral flow Covid test 36 hours prior to arrival.

It’s not just sporting events that are opening up either. A recent experimental concert in Liverpool allowed 5,000 music lovers to attend, with the only condition of entry being a recent negative Covid test. The gig required no social distancing or masks and was designed to test how large events can be re-introduced.


Despite a recent rise of cases in the Netherlands, over 1,500 people packed into a music event in the Dutch town of Biddinghiuzen. All attendees presented a negative test and masks were mandated. However, many decided to remove them. Motion sensors were used to track the participants' movements around the venue to better research how transmission may occur at large gatherings.


Finally, to where it all started. Due to strict policies, China was able to keep a relative lid on the spread of Coronavirus despite being the first nation to be hit with the virus. Over months they have been slowly reopening their economy.

In fact, as far back as October In China, over 4,000 live concerts were held for the country’s National Day celebrations. Now larger venues and gatherings are starting to open up.

Where do we go next?

While these events are good news for local citizens wanting to return to normal life, these events should also give us all around the world hope that we are taking back control of our lives. Moving from a world of fear to one of optimism.

For those of us in the travel and events industry, these gatherings should be a further sign that mass travel will soon be back on the table.

The worst is surely behind us. Let’s stay safe and enjoy as the world gradually opens up once more!

Planning your next global immersions? We look forward to hearing from you.

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