At last, many have been fully vaccinated, and COVID seems to be getting under control. And people are slowly starting to “live” again, seeing friends and family and even attending—or planning to attend—live events, according to a recent poll.

Still, more than half of respondents (51 percent) have already attended public events during the first nine months of this year, and 61 percent plan to do so during the fourth quarter. Movies in theaters had the biggest number of attendees, with 24 percent having already gone and 34 percent planning to by the end of the year. Amusement parks, zoos and aquariums came in next, with 23 percent having already gone and 26 percent planning to by the end of the year.

Fewer people said they were up for fairs, festivals and carnivals, with 21 percent having already gone and 28 percent planning to by the end of the year. And only 18 percent said they have already attended a concert or play, with 25 percent planning to by year’s end. Last, 14 percent said they have attended a sporting event, while another 17 percent said they will by the end of the year.

“Attendance at live events is picking up, led by young adults, although COVID remains a significant worry especially (and ironically) among the fully vaccinated,” said Ted Rossman, senior industry analyst at

He added that most Americans don’t seem particularly worried about how much these events cost, and few are going into debt to attend. And that’s a good thing. “It’s mostly about the health situation at this point,” Rossman said.

Here are some other key results from our live event poll:

  • COVID reigned as a deterrent. Most who said they won’t be attending a public event by the end of the year cited COVID as a bigger deterrent than cost. Almost half (44 percent) said they wouldn’t go to movie theaters due to COVID concerns, while only 15 percent cited cost. For fairs and festivals, 43 percent said COVID and 14 percent cost; for concerts and plays, 41 percent said COVID and 18 percent cost; for amusement parks, zoos and aquariums, 38 percent said COVID and 18 percent cost; for sporting events, 34 percent said COVID and 16 percent cost; and for other public events, almost half (47 percent) said COVID while only 14 percent said cost.
  • Vaccinated vs. unvaccinated. More than half of fully vaccinated respondents (53 percent) said fear about COVID would prevent them from attending movie theaters by the end of the year versus 28 percent of unvaccinated respondents; 49 percent of vaccinated won’t go to concerts or plays versus 25 percent of unvaccinated; 49 percent of vaccinated won’t attend fairs or festivals versus 28 percent of unvaccinated; 43 percent of vaccinated won’t go to amusement parks, zoos or aquariums versus 26 percent of unvaccinated; 38 percent of vaccinated will say no to sporting events versus 21 percent of unvaccinated; 54 percent of vaccinated don’t plan to go to any other public events versus 31 percent of unvaccinated.
  • The youngest are the most fearless. Young adults are willing to attend events the most: 61 percent of Gen Zers, 52 percent of millennials, 36 percent of Gen Xers and 31 percent of boomers said they have or intend to go to a movie theater by the end of the year; 49 percent of Gen Zers, 49 percent of millennials, 33 percent of Gen Xers and 22 percent of boomers have or will attend an amusement park, zoo or aquarium in 2021; 43 percent of Gen Zers, 46 percent of millennials, 34 percent of Gen Xers and 28 percent of boomers have or will attend a fair or festival; 46 percent of Gen Zers, 42 percent of millennials, 27 percent of Gen Xers and 23 percent of boomers have or will go to a concert or play; and 41 percent of Gen Zers, 33 percent of millennials, 18 percent of Gen Xers and 14 percent of boomers have or will go to a sporting event.
  • Very few going into debt to attend public events. A very small percentage (11 percent) of respondents said they went into debt to attend a live event this year. That breaks down into 21 percent of millennials who attended events versus 12 percent of Gen Zers, 8 percent of Gen Xers and 3 percent of boomers.

The survey of 2,401 U.S. adults was conducted online between Sept. 29-Oct. 4, 2021. See survey methodology.

Why the vaccinated are reluctant to attend live events

Adam Garcia, CEO of the website The Stock Dork, said vaccinated people show a high degree of conscientiousness and care regarding COVID and a more positive-leaning attitude toward the government and pharmaceuticals.

Conversely, he said the unvaccinated are less conscientious regarding COVID, which can be for myriad reasons, not limited to political and religious beliefs and attitudes towards healthcare. This, Garcia said, comes with a degree of skepticism and mistrust toward the government.

While both sides have reasons for holding fast to their stances, their choices to attend public events will be affected, he added.

“The vaccine, because it does not completely prevent COVID infection, is not enough for the vaccinated to change their attitudes toward being around other people and risking infection,” Garcia pointed out.

COVID remains a big deterrent to attending live events

The small percentage of people citing cost as a reason for not attending an event speaks to how pent-up demand may still be, said Nate Tsang, founder of WallStreetZen. And consumers’ savings went up precipitously during the pandemic, so people can likely spend on these events if they feel they’re safe.

As much as we all want this pandemic to be over, fear of COVID is clearly still the main issue that’s holding people back from the things they want to do.

Nevertheless, many venues have reopened, COVID cases are falling, and Americans are flocking back to live events. If you plan to become a frequent spectator again soon, it’s essential you revisit your budget to accommodate these expenses without taking on debt. You could even consider using your cash back credit card rewards to offset these costs. Whatever you decide, just be safe.

Survey methodology commissioned YouGov Plc to conduct the survey. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov. Total sample size was 2,401 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between Sept. 29 to Oct. 4, 2021. The survey was carried out online.