World Youth Day Through the Years: 5 Highlights

The global celebration started by Pope John Paul II has been uniting and inspiring people of all ages for decades.

These five highlights will have you even more excited for World Youth Day 2023!

1. A record-breaking crowd.

Roughly 5 million young people attended the 1995 World Youth Day festivities in Manila, Philippines. They earned the “largest crowd ever” title in the Guinness World Records at the time.

2. The start of a TV station and social network.

World Youth Day 2002 in Toronto marked the beginning of Canada’s Catholic multimedia network, Salt + Light Television. Similarly, the 2008 World Youth Day in Sydney, Australia, inspired the creation of Christ in the Third Millennium, the Official Catholic Social Network of World Youth Day, run by the Archdiocese of Sydney until 2019.

3. Mass with music from around the world.

Participants in the final Mass of World Youth Day 2005 in Cologne, Germany sang the Creed and Mass Parts in a variety of musical styles: European, North and South American, Australian, and African.

4. A storm…subdued.

The Prayer Vigil at World Youth Day 2011 in Madrid, Spain, was accompanied by a torrential rainstorm that was mysteriously quelled moments before holy adoration began.

5. The theme that began it all.

While each World Youth Day has its own unique theme, the very first highlights the heart of the celebration: “Always be prepared to make a defence to anyone who calls you to account for the hope that is in you.” – 1 Peter 3:15


Don’t miss the opportunity to experience the wonder of Portugal for yourself, connect with youth from around the globe, and see the Pope! Check out our World Youth Day 2023 itinerary today.


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