What is a Mega-Event?

What is a Mega-Event?

Currently, there are numerous research’s debating mega-events in general and its impacts on the local communities, cities and countries located were the event took place. However, within such studies it is rarely discussed the specific definition of the mega-event concept. 

Before defining what a mega-event is, maybe we should first ask: What is an event in general? Jago and Shaw (1998:29), defined an event as “a onetime or infrequently occurring event of limited duration that provides the consumer with a leisure and social opportunity beyond everyday experience”. 

Now, when we think about mega-events we have to consider: (i) the size; (ii) the number of attendees; (iii) the cost; (iv) the dimension of media attention that the event attracts; and (v) the impacts on the environment and population. Naturally, mega-events involve more complex planning and delivery processes than a regular event.

With this in mind, Muller (2015) defined the concept by following all these characteristics:

“Mega-events are ambulatory occasions of a fixed duration that attract (1) a large number of visitors, (2) have a large mediated reach, (3) come with large costs, and (4) have large impacts on the built environment and the population” (Müller 2015:634). 

The Olympic Games are one of the best illustrations of a mega-event, it happens every four years in a different location. For example, in 2012 these were staged in London, in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro and in 2020 the Olympic Games are going to take place in Tokyo. The Games attract national and international attendees and media attention, host cities face very high costs and have very large impacts, both positive and negative, on the environment and population.




Jago, L., and Shaw, R. N. (1998) “Special events: A conceptual and definitional framework”. Festival Management and Event Tourism, 5, 21–32.

Müller, M. (2015) “What makes an event a mega-event? Definitions and sizes”. Leisure Studies, 34(6), 627-642.

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Portuguese, from Lisbon, 23 years old. PhD student with dyslexia and ADHD. Impossible? Not a chance. Hard working? Pretty much. Frustrating? Some times, but it turns out that it strengthens you. Rewarding? Each achievement over the years felt like a victory. Now, here I am, on the most challenging step until now, the PhD. So, bear with me, with all of me, as I continue to follow my passion for mega-events and cars.

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