The Rungrado 1st of May Stadium, or simply May Day Stadium is located in Pyongyang, the capital of the DPRK, and is the largest stadium in the world and hosts the largest performance in the world, the Mass Games performance which involves over 100,000 performers.
The May Day Stadium was first opened on the 1st of May 1989. It’s located on Rungrado Island on the Taedonggang River, this is how the stadium received its name as the “Rungrado 1st of May Stadium”. The 1st of May is an important day to North Koreans for being the date that International Workers’ Day (May Day) is celebrated each year.
The seating capacity of the stadium is approximately 150,000 with other sources saying 114,000, it is the largest stadium in the world for seat capacity. The Rungrado May Day Stadium structurally occupies an area of 20.7 hectares (51 acres).
History of May Day Stadium
After Seoul was awarded the 1988 Summer Olympics, the DPRK was granted the right to host the 13th World Festival of Youth and Students which was the largest international event ever held in Pyongyang with over 20,000 foreign visitors.
The Rungrado First of May Stadium, as well as the infamous Ryugyong Hotel, were built as part of this event. Pyongyang went underwent the largest construction project the country has ever seen with other projects such as the Sosan Hotel, Chongnyon Youth Hotel and Liberation Street being completed.
The first “big” event held here was in 1995, with the “Collision in Korea” wrestling event, which at the time was the largest pay per view wrestling event jointly held by Japan Pro-Wrestling, and World Championship Wrestling (which later merged into WWE).
Of course, the most famous events to happen at the May Day Stadium are the Mass Games, with the Arirang Festival being held here between 2002 – 2013. In 2007 the Arirang Mass Games made it into the Guinness Book of World Records when 100,090 participants took part in the event.
After the end of the Arirang Mass Games, the stadium underwent 2 years of renovation, re-opening in 2015.
In April of 2016, the May Day Stadium hosted the Pyongyang Marathon, also known as Mangyongdae Prize International Marathon. Kim Il Sung Stadium which hosts the marathon event annually was under renovations.
In 2017 the May Day Stadium hosted six group stage matches as part of the 2018 AFC U-23 Championship qualification.
In 2018 the Mass Games returned with Glorious Fatherland, and coincided with the Inter-Korea summit which resulted in President Moon Jae-In giving an unprecedented speech to 150,000 citizens of the DPRK.
In 2019 the Mass Games made another return under the name of “The People’s Country” and was shown from June to October, one of the longer showings of the Mass Games performances.
Design of the Rungrado Stadium
The structure of the stadium features 16 arches arranged in a ring forming the design of a Magnolia, the national flower of the DPRK, or a parachute. The height of the roof reaches 60 meters high from the ground.
There are eight levels in total with a total floor space of over 207,000 m² (2.2 million ft²) across the entire complex. The stadium includes over 1,300 rooms, including team locker rooms, training rooms, offices, etc.
The stadium has 80 entrances and the North Koreans say it is possible for 150,000 people to fill the stadium completely within 15 minutes. At least one entrance is used specifically for VIP dignitaries, including North Korea’s highest leaders and special foreign guests.
When is the May Day Stadium used?
Most football matches are held at the Kim Il Sung Stadium, but some have been known to be held at the May Day Stadium, as well as the odd athletics event.
How to visit the First of May Stadium?
There are multiple ways to visit the May Day Stadium. One of the best ways is to join our tours to spectate the Mass Games, or you may join us on a football tour, or we can arrange your guided tour of May Day Stadium to have a more in-depth look at the locker rooms, train facilities, offices, communication room and debrief rooms. For more information please get in touch with us..