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Working with Time Zones

The Events Calendar provides simple but robust time zone capabilities, allowing you to have events in many different time zones. Use this article to get familiar with all of the controls available to you, and to learn what kinds of output to expect from certain time zone configurations.

The Two Types of Time Zone

There are two primary types of time zone in WordPress: locations (a.k.a. “named time zones”), and UTC offsets.

  • Location time zones are usually in the format of {Region}/{City}, like America/New_York, or Europe/Zurich. These are often the recommended time zones to use, as they accommodate daylight saving time.
  • UTC offsets, meanwhile, are usually in the format of UTC±X, like UTC-5 or UTC+4:30. UTC offsets do not accommodate daylight saving time.

Location time zones are contextual, and say, “this is the time in this location.”

UTC offsets are absolute, meanwhile, and simply add or subtract hours from Coordinated Universal Time; no matter where the event is taking place, or whether daylight saving time is in effect, a time zone of UTC-5 simply says, “get the UTC value and subtract five hours from it.”

Choosing a Time Zone Mode

If you go to Events → Settings in your wp-admin and scroll down to the Time Zone Settings section, you’ll see that there are two settings for the Time Zone Mode option: “use site-wide time zone everywhere”, and “use local time zones for each event”.

The “time zone” mode tells The Events Calendar what time zone to display the event times in.

The Events Calendar's Time Zone Settings

The Events Calendar’s Time Zone Settings

  • In the “Use local time zones for each event” mode, event times will be displayed in whatever time zone is selected for the event. Every event can use a different time zone, and will have their time displayed in terms of that time zone.
    • Please Note: You don’t have to manually set a time zone for every event. The default time zone will be whatever time zone you set in your WordPress general settings—and then if you want to change that on any given event, you can.
  • In the “Use site-wide time zone everywhere” mode, all event times will be displayed in terms of whatever time zone you set in your WordPress general settings, and this cannot be overridden on a per-event basis.

If you’re not sure which option is best for you, we generally recommend “Use local time zones for each event” mode. In this mode, you don’t have to specify event time zones—simply set your site time zone in your WordPress general settings. But then if you ever want to adjust the time zone for an individual event, the ability to do so is there.

Setting the Time Zone for an Individual Event

If you’d like to change an event’s time zone, simply view the “edit” screen for the event in your wp-admin and locate the time and date fields—you should notice a link that labels the event’s time zone, as shown in the following screenshot.

An Event's Time Zone

The input field for event’s time zone.

Click that link to reveal a drop-down menu of all of the available time zones; choose one for the event, then save the event for the new time zone to take effect.

Expanded Event Time Zone Menu

The expanded drop-down menu of available time zones for an event.

Remember: If your site is in the “Use site-wide time zone everywhere” mode, changing an individual event’s time zone will make no difference in how the time displays on the front-end; you’ll have to change the time zone mode to “Use local time zones for each event”.

Updating Time Zone Data

In some cases, like if you’ve just updated your version of The Events Calendar after a long time of not updating it, it will be necessary to update your time zone data before you can fully take advantage of The Events Calendar’s time zone features.

Don’t worry if that sounds complicated! It’s a one-click process:

  • Simply return to the “Time Zone Settings” section at the bottom of Events → Settings → General in your wp-admin
  • Look for the “Update Time Zone Data” button there
  • If it’s not visible, your time zone data is up-to-date and no action is required
  • If it is visible, you can click the button to perform the update

Screenshot showing the time zone data update tool

“What Time Zone Configuration is Right for Me?”

The exact time zone or UTC offset you choose is, of course, dependent on your location (or the location of your events, etc.)—but regardless of the specific time zone or offset, we highly recommend having your WordPress site time zone and individual event time zones be the same format.

So instead of having a WordPress site time zone of UTC-5, but then using America/New_York and Europe/Zurich on individual events, we’d recommend either using UTC offsets in both cases or “named” time zones in both cases.

🔔 Please Note: You can install our free Extension for The Events Calendar, Allow Only Location-Based Time Zones for Events, to ensure that UTC offsets are never used in your events, which may help to reduce confusing time outputs.

How Daylight Saving Time Affects Events

If you’re curious about how Daylight Saving Time affects your events and the display of event times, please check out this knowledgebase article on the topic.