For the past four years, the Minato Mirai district of Yokohama, Japan has been bringing Pokémon’s most famous character to life with a Pikachu Outbreak Festival. The event, which features numerous fun activities, including colorful parades with thousands of people dressed in Pikachu costumes, began in 2014 to promote an upcoming Pokémon movie. It was such a success that its sponsors, the Pokémon Company, decided to make it an annual, week-long extravaganza.
This year’s festival, held from August 9 to 15, had a Brazilian carnival theme and attracted almost two million fans. Entitled “Pikachu Dake Ja Nai Pikachu Tairyo Hasseichu” or “The Not Just Pikachu Pikachu Outbreak,” the event, co-sponsored by Niantic the developer and publisher of mobile game Pokémon Go, was the first of its kind to include other popular Pocket Monsters as well.
The week-long celebration of the electric rodents featured multiple free shows, including a “Pikachu stroll,” where 20 Pikachus departed Queen’s Square Yokohama, swaying side-to-side to a whistle. A welcome addition to this year’s festivities was the “Dripping Wet Splash Show,” which provided both audience and participants with some much-needed relief from the hot sun. 2017 also boasted the largest Pikachu Carnival Parade, where performers and more than 100 Pikachus danced to a Latin-inspired tune.
The highlight of the festival was the opportunity for Pokémon GO Trainers to traverse Yokohama and its beautiful parks and capture over 120 million Pokémon, including over 15 million Pikachus as well as other hard-to-find Pocket Monsters such as Chansey and Larvitar. For a thrilling finale, on August 14, some Pokémon masters teamed up with friends and other players to battle the game’s most valuable character, Mewtwo, at the specially created Pokémon GO park.
The Yokohama Pokémon GO celebration, the largest real-world gaming event yet, was one of many organized by Niantic to celebrate the mobile game’s one-year anniversary. The company has also held successful Pokémon Go Fests in Illinois, Denmark, Prague, Sweden, and the Netherlands, and many more are scheduled in various other European countries before the end of the year.