Thursday, June 23, 2011 | 2 a.m.
The Electric Daisy Carnival, North America’s largest electronic music festival, lands in Las Vegas this weekend, with an expected 250,000 visitors in tow. If crowd predictions prove true, it will be the second largest Las Vegas event ever.
“There are dozens of events that run in the 10,000- to 50,000-person range,” Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority spokesman Jeremy Handel said. “When you get into the 75,000-80,000-100,000 range, that’s where it really begins to make an impact on the region.”
Here’s a look at how the festival crowd might compare with the area’s other big events:
Photo by Tom Donoghue/DonoghuePhotography.com
New Year’s Eve on the Strip
Las Vegas sees its biggest crowd by far at its annual New Year’s Eve celebration on the Strip. For six years it has ranked first on Priceline.com’s list of New Year’s Eve party destinations, and it regularly attracts more than 300,000 people from around the world. The crowd reached an estimated 320,000 last year.
That means packed bodies in casinos, bars and clubs. Police shut down the Strip to vehicles to allow revelers to swarm Las Vegas Boulevard as well. Hotels already report receiving reservations for this year’s party.
Photo by Sam Morris/Las Vegas Sun
National Finals Rodeo
Nearly 200,000 cowboys and cowgirls gather at the Thomas & Mack Center every year for the 10-day rodeo event. The National Finals are considered the Super Bowl of the rodeo world, and tickets regularly sell out. Many casinos carry the events live in their sports books to accommodate shutout fans.
The rodeo has been in Las Vegas since 1985 and is the Thomas & Mack Center’s biggest client. The arena’s contract ends in 2014.
Photo by Tom Donoghue/DonoghuePhotography.com
The annual racing weekend consistently attracts huge crowds, especially to the Sprint Cup, the top NASCAR racing series. People from across the country come to Southern Nevada to watch the races at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
This year, the Sprint Cup attracted a sellout crowd of 145,000, and that was a relatively weak showing. In 2007, 156,000 spectators attended, the event’s largest crowd to date.
Photo by Darrin Bush/Las Vegas News Bureau
International Consumer Electronics Show
The annual gathering of technologically savvy gadget gurus regularly exceeds 100,000 but grows every year. This year’s show in January attracted 140,000 people, 10 percent more than the year before.
Handel attributed the bump to “a pretty significant boost in international attendance.” The trade show brought about 30,000 foreigners to town, a record for the convention. The count could have been even higher. Show managers learned after the event that 40,000 international visitors planned to attend but didn’t because they were discouraged by the visa process.
Photo by Erik Kabik/www.erikkabikphoto.com
Grateful Dead at Sam Boyd Stadium
The original jam band played a series of annual shows in Las Vegas throughout the early 1990s, with the last taking place in 1995 shortly before frontman Jerry Garcia’s death. That year’s three-show series sold 135,000 tickets, forcing Deadheads to cram into Sam Boyd Stadium. The popularity of those shows paved the way for similar megaconcerts featuring Paul McCartney, the Eagles and U2.
Photo by Sam Morris
The construction industry trade show takes place every three years, which is part of the reason it draws such a crowd. The most recent show, in March, attracted a crowd of 125,000. That’s a slight decline from prior shows. In 2008, 149,000 people attended, but that was when Las Vegas’ construction industry was still booming.
With 2 million square feet of exhibit space, ConExpo is among the biggest conventions, based on square footage, in North America.
Photo by Steve Marcus
SEMA and AAPEX shows
The Specialty Equipment Market Association and Automotive Aftermarket Product Expo land in Las Vegas every fall for the biggest automotive specialty products display in the world. Aftermarket goodies for cars and trucks are exhibited, usually on cool cars scattered around the trade show floor.
Last year, SEMA and AAPEX drew a crowd of about 110,000, including at least a few celebrities. Rappers Snoop Dogg and Funkmaster Flex turned out with their custom cars.
The highly technical computer show once held the crown as Las Vegas’ largest convention, but it lost more than half of its attendees as its decades-long run came to an end. In 2000, the convention attracted 210,000 people. Three years later, at its last live show, Comdex drew 30,000.
The convention was originally conceived by Las Vegas Sands Chairman Sheldon Adelson and thrived for more than 20 years before it shut down. After several years off the grid, it was reintroduced last year as a virtual convention.