Yuri’s Night is an international celebration held on April 12 every year to commemorate space exploration milestones. The event is named for the first human to launch into space, Yuri Gagarin, who flew the Vostok 1 spaceship on April 12, 1961.
In 2001, for the 40th anniversary of Yuri’s epic flight, the team of Trish Garner, George Whitesides and Loretta Hidalgo began to sponsor a night of parties celebrating human space flight. The idea was simple: establish a Web site where anyone could register a Yuri’s Night party and let the rest of the world know when and where they were celebrating.
The Web site also provides some basic information on how to throw a party and where to find parties that are open to the public.
Yuri’s Night has grown from a few dozen parties a year to over two hundred parties all around the world. Parties range in size from a few dozen people to a few thousand and have been staged on every continent (including Antarctica) and the International Space Station and in Second Life.
The largest parties are generally in San Francisco and Washington, DC, but there are always some events in almost every major city. Some parties are still on the 12th, but some opt to celebrate on the closest Saturday.
Source: Jason Cranfordteague, “Celebrate 50 Years of Human Space Flight on Yuri’s Night,” Wired, February 14, 2011, accessed September 5, 2013, http://www.wired.com/geekdad/2011/02/celebrate-50-years-of-human-space-flight-on-yuris-night