Internet pranksters hoping to raid the mysterious Area 51 base in Nevada, US, today (September 20) have rallied more than 2.1 million people behind their cause. But before the Area 51 raid could go ahead, the assault was called off and transformed into an electronic dance music (EDM) concert in Las Vegas. Thousands of UFO enthusiasts have still descended on the deserts of Nevada in the hopes of catching an Area 51 runaway alien. Here is everything you need to know about today’s cancelled Area 51 raid.
Why did people want to storm the Area 51 US Air Force base today?
A team of online pranksters started a Facebook event in July this year, looking for volunteers to storm the military installation.
Area 51 is well known among conspiracy theories as the supposed holding pen for extraterrestrials, UFO technology and other otherworldly mysteries.
The original Area 51 raid event was meant to unfold under the cover of darkness, in the wee morning hours of September 20.
The organisers have dubbed it “Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop All Of Us”.
More than 2.1 million people confirmed their attendance on Facebook and another 1.5 million said they were interested in showing up.
READ MORE: What is Area 51? Why is the internet crazy over a supposed UFO base?
Area 51 news: Hundreds of people have gathered in the Nevada desert
Area 51 news: A small number of people gathered outside the gates to Area 51
Why has the Area 51 raid been cancelled today? Is it a cover-up?
The Area 51 raid quickly became the most-talked-about online prank of the year, with thousands of people making memes and videos in support.
Crowd outside Area 51 gate – No major incidents reported
An estimated 30,000 people were expected to show up in the small towns of Rachel and Hiko, Nevada, which sit just outside of Area 51.
Both towns boast a combined population of around 200 people but they capitalise on the mysterious aura and tourist interest in the nearby military base.
However, the Area 51 raid’s organisers have called off the event and instead have redirected their efforts towards organising an Area 51-themed festival.
READ MORE: US admits Area 51 has ‘secrets’ that need to be ‘protected’
The Facebook event has been changed to “Official Alienstock Tour”, which took place on September 18 in Las Vegas.
The event reads: “Spawned from the now legendary ‘Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop All of Us’ meme, comes AlienStock the tour.
“Now you can party with Matty Roberts and meet the guys who were visited by the FBI, who forced the government to respond to a meme.
“Nightclubs, Parties, Festivals, Meet & Greets and more… coming to a galaxy near you.”
READ MORE: New Area 51 underground base found on Google Maps
Whatever the reason for the sudden change, would-be Area 51 raiders were warned from needlessly approaching the army base.
Laura McAndrews, a spokeswoman for the US Air Force, said the grounds are an “open training range”.
She said: “We would discourage anyone from trying to come into the area where we train American armed forces.
“The US Air Force always stands ready to protect America and its assets.”
Area 51 news: Conspiracists believe Area 51 houses secret alien technologies and extraterrestrials
Area 51 news: The original Facebook event was changed to an EDM concert in Las Vegas
Despite the warnings, hundreds of people with placards and banners travelled to Nevada today to partake in impromptu parties and events outside of Area 51.
Gerald Ramalho, a news anchor for KNV, has been tweeting from outside the gate to Area 51 where a small group of people gathered.
At 1.22pm BST he shared a photo of people with placards, saying: “Crowd outside #Area51 gate – No major incidents reported. @News3LV #StormArea51 #SeeThemAliens”
At 1.17pm BST he tweeted: “Hundreds show up at #Area51 gate around 3am. One woman in her 20s tried to cross, but was detained. @News3LV #StormArea51”