Expo 2020 Dubai's final weekend looks set to be its biggest with tens of thousands of visitors flocking to the world's fair for a super Sunday of entertainment.
Pavilions reported their longest queues since the start of the six-month mega event in October.
From families with babies in strollers to elderly visitors in wheelchairs, people of all ages were eager to soak up the carnival atmosphere for at least one more time before the grand closing ceremony on Thursday.
One indication of the massive crowds was the popular German pavilion requesting that people stop queuing up minutes after opening on Sunday morning.
An attendant required a megaphone to regularly update people milling around the campus-themed structure with information about the expected wait time and when the queue would open up again.
“We opened the pavilion as we do every day at 10am and then three minutes later we had to close the line. The wait time was already six and a half hours so we had to tell people that the queue is shut,” said Bjorn Beringer, communication assistant at the German pavilion.
The queue opened later in the day, with a wait time of five hours.
Visit numbers have shot past the 20 million mark for a world's fair that has drawn tourists and residents for multiple visits to a site spread across three theme districts — sustainability, opportunity and mobility.
People lay on patches of grass and tucked into ice creams to beat the heat. Others crowded around magicians and musicians who livened up street corners with their acts.
Expo fans make early start to join in the fun
Many were at the gates at 9am for an early start to ensure they had a chance to enter pavilions on their must-visit list.
Teenager Justin Matthew and his family have visited the Expo six times. The Sharjah residents managed to see the pavilions of Singapore, Uzbekistan and Morocco.
“I like the design of the pavilions and how they have their own way to explain their story,” he said.
The mobility pavilion with the world’s largest passenger lift that can transport more than 150 people at a time was one of his favourites.
Many children enjoyed signature structures that will remain after the Expo ends and the environmentally-friendly lessons these taught.
“I like Terra because it tells you about the ocean, how you need to clean it up, keep it safe from trash and other messy things,” said Kien Monzones, 11, on his fourth visit with his family, about the sustainability pavilion.
Many decided to revel in the atmosphere as huge queues meant they had little opportunity of revisiting much-loved zones.
Kane Simpson, a real estate broker in Dubai, got in early to see the Vision pavilion and hoped to revisit the Hungary pavilion.
“We were here first thing, before the pavilions opened and there were still a lot of people waiting for the first showing. How busy it is today, on the last weekend, it was not like this the other times I have been here,” said Mr Simpson, on his fourth visit.
“But we are still enjoying ourselves. It’s very big and there is lots to see.”
His friend Clementine Radford, visiting from the UK, was delighted to have an Expo experience to remember.
“It’s a once in a lifetime really,” she said.
“This is an amazing place. I’m glad I got to see this.”
The Expo ends on Thursday with children at the centre of the finale at the Al Wasl dome that will feature musical performances from US artists Christina Aguilera, Norah Jones and cellist Yo-Yo Ma.
The world fair was delayed by a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic and has been one of the largest global gatherings of people since the pandemic started, attracting visitors from across the country and overseas.