Madonna’s Rio concert makes history with largest standalone crowd

In this handout image, aerial view of Copacabana Beach packed by concertgoers during Madonna's massive free show to close "The Celebration Tour" on May 04, 2024 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Fernando Maia/Riotur via Getty Images)

Madonna put on a free concert Saturday night on Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro, turning the vast stretch of sand into an enormous dance floor. 

An estimated 1.6 million people attended the show, G1 reported, citing Rio City Hall’s tourism agency. 

That is more than 10 times Madonna’s record attendance of 130,000 at Paris’ Parc des Sceaux in 1987. Madonna's official website hyped the show as the biggest ever in her four-decade career.

Live Nation, an American ticketing entertainment company, said the attendance marked the largest ever standalone concert crowd for any artist. 

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Helicopters and drones flew overhead, and motorboats and sailboats anchored off the beach filled the bay.

Others held house parties in brightly lighted apartments and hotels overlooking the beachfront.

Rio spent the last few days readying itself for the performance.

Eighteen sound towers were spread along the beach to ensure that all attendees could hear the hits. Her two-hour show started at 10:37 p.m. local time, nearly 50 minutes behind schedule.

Pop star Madonna performs onstage during a free concert at Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on May 4, 2024. (Photo by (Photo by Pablo Porciuncula/AFP via Getty Images)

Rio state's security plan included the presence of 3,200 military personnel and 1,500 civilian police officers on stand by. In the lead-up to the concert, Brazil's navy inspected vessels that wished to position themselves offshore to follow the show.

City Hall produced a report in April estimating that the concert would inject $57 million into the local economy

Hotel capacity was expected to reach 98% in Copacabana, according to Rio's hotel association. 

Rio’s international airport had forecasted an extra 170 flights during May 1-6, from 27 destinations, City Hall said in a statement.

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The show marked the end of Madonna’s Celebration tour, which she kicked off last October. 

The tour stopped in 35 U.S. cities and hosted more than 71 shows to celebrate the music icon’s career that spans over 40 years. The artist is 65.

Her free Rio show was a special thank you to fans for all the support. 

Much of the tour was rescheduled after Madonna developed a serious bacterial infection last June, which rendered her unresponsive and in the ICU. 

This story was reported from Detroit. The Associated Press contributed.