event calendar showdown

It’s A Date! A 2020 Event Calendar Plugin Showdown

Which Event or Calendar Plugin should I use? I get that question a lot. I build a lot of church and retirement community websites. Both need calendar plugins but the best plugin would depend on each client and their needs. In fact, for clients, I have a list of questions I always ask before selecting the plugin I will use. The answers will tell me which plugin is best for the job. Here is a list of some of those questions:

  • Do you need a calendar to show everything or just featured events?
  • Do you need to connect it to a google calendar or other hosted calendar? If so does it need to auto import events?
  • Do you want the option to subscribe to your calendar?
  • Do you need frontend submissions? Community events?
  • Do you have recurring events?
  • On recurring events do you want only the first to show or every occurrence?
  • Do you need to have people register for events?
  • Do they need to pay for events?
  • Do you need people to purchase specific seats?
  • Will you have an online store as well? If so, does it need to integrate with that store?
  • Do you need to collect any information beyond name and email address for events?
  • Do you need that information for every attendee or just the purchaser?
  • What kind of layouts do you want? Monthly, Weekly, list, grid, carousel?

You don’t want to spend time plugin shopping for each client or worse, trying to use the wrong plugin for the job simply because it is your favorite. Below we will go over a list of some of the most popular plugins and their pros and cons. They aren’t in any particular order.

The Events Calendar and The Events Calendar Pro

The Event Calendar - Event Calendar Showdown

By Modern Tribe
Free Version: Yes
Premium/Pro Version: Yes.
Addons: Yes – Filters, Tickets, Aggregator, and more

Extend: It has a large extension library for customization and a documentation library for event more customization. You can override templates by adding files to your theme folder. There are also some free extensions in the WordPress Repository.

I have a love-hate relationship with this plugin. It works great 99.9% of the time. When it fails it can be epic. The support can be a little slow to respond (but getting better) so expect it to time to resolve. On mission-critical sites, I always test on staging and read the changelog before updating especially for the Ticketing Addons. Test on staging even on minor updates. (Learned that the hard way).

It is my go-to plugin for most of my clients (the Pro Version) mostly because of the “show first instance” in a series of events. It keeps the calendar lean and mean and not many plugins have this feature,  It integrates with Beaver Themer which means I can customize the archive and single event pages without dealing with their templates.

Event ticketing is handled by The Events Tickets (RSVP) and Events Ticket Plus (Paid) Addon Plugins and they are why I use this plugin as my go-to for Event Tickets. It integrates with Woocommerce and Easy Digital Downloads for paid tickets or you can use Tribe Commerce which integrates with a Paypal Business Account. There is Android and iOS apps for easy attendee check-in and does support QR codes. As far as I have experienced this is the best self-hosted ticketing option especially if you need to integrate with Woocommerce.

Purchase Tip: They do have sales. Not often but Black Friday is a good time to purchase the unlimited site license.

Pros:

  • Well documented.
  • Recurring settings are robust (Pro Version).
  • Works on Multisite ($349 more).
  • It can show only one instance of a series of upcoming events.
  • Integrates with Beaver Themer.
  • Event Tickets Plus addon integrates with Woocommerce
  • Recently updated their layouts
  • Facebook Group is a fast support option for quick questions

Cons:

  • Requires Pro version for recurring events.
  • Requires additional plugin for Multisite.
  • Additional plugins needed for Event Ticketing, Filtering, or integration with Google Calendar
  • Support via a ticket system. I preferred the old forums for finding answers quickly. Facebook Group is a fast support option for quick questions
  • Pricey for lots of sites but does have an unlimited plan. (Take advantage of sales)

Modern Events Calendar Lite and Modern Events Calendar

Event Calendar Showdown - Modern Events Calendar Plugin

By Webnus
Free Version: Yes
Premium/Pro Version: Yes
Addons: Yes

One of my favorite new calendar plugins. This feature packed event plugin had 47 beautiful layout options on the free version. The Pro version adds 11 more. It can also show a single instance of recurring events on some layouts. See a full list of features here. They have a great feature chart on this page and you can compare it to some of the same plugins that are in this article. It has the ability to import events from other event plugins which makes switching a breeze.

Pros:

  • Most layouts options of all the plugins even on the free version.
  • Beautiful modern appearance
  • It can show only one instance of a series of upcoming events on some layouts
  • Decent support. Just moved to a chat/ticket system from a forum.
  • Lifetime purchase.
  • Multisite support in the FREE version.
  • Integrates with Woocommerce and Elementor
  • Manage Site Activations
  • Full list of features
  • Robust Booking system but requires Pro version to take payments
  • Import events from The Event Calendar and EventOn and others
  • Shortcode generator to build custom layouts.
  • Integrates with Google Calendar

Cons:

  • It can be pricey for lots of sites. No unlimited plan
  • Shows a single instance of recurring events on some layouts but not all

All in One Events Calendar

Event Calendar Showdown - Event Calendar Plugin

by Time.ly

Free Version: Yes
Premium/Pro Version: No
Addons: Yes. Extended Views, Google/Ical integration
Hosted Calendar Option

An oldie but a goody if you have very small budget. If you want a free calendar plugin that has a great agenda (list) view and has a robust recurring event system this would be a good choice. I started using this plugin almost 10 years ago when owned by Seedly. It got a bad reputation back in the day when updates would break sites. Time.ly took over several years ago and it has been fairly stable since then. However, the update last September with its new “activation system” broke it on WordPress Multisite. The agenda layout look is dated although you can do some customization with CSS fairly easily. You can also build your own custom theme. Although the directions are fairly well documented it isn’t for the novice user. But once you build it you can import to other sites.

The recurring events with its easy to configure interface and exceptions is so easy to use. The downside is it does show every instance in the views so it is easy for your lists to get cluttered with the same events repeating over and over again

The Extended Views addon gives you a stream view (featured image and text) and the Posterboard (grid with image) view. They have been fickle about pricing on this. It was a paid add on for years then they made it free and recently it is paid again, However, I found the version I last downloaded years ago still works just fine.

Pros:

  • free version is powerful
  • some built-in customization (colors)
  • good documentation for creating your custom theme
  • robust recurring events with exclusions
  • import Google Calendar Feed or iCal Feed

Cons:

  • Difficult to customize beyond colors for the average user
  • Extended Views (Posterboard and Stream View) is now a paid extension again,
  • Dated looking and could use a refresh or new themes.
  • Quirky if you do any CSS changes you need to re-save theme options to get it to work.

Events Manager

The Events Manager Event Calendar

By Marcus Sykes
Free Version: Yes
Premium/Pro Version: Yes.   $75 for 1 site and $150 for 5 sites.
Addons: none

I used this a lot in the past and may have to come back for another look. It has great documentation and it uses a #fieldname system for customizing what fields show. This means you can really customize how the layouts in the widgets look and the content they contain. If you are good with CSS the potential for a custom is look is unlimited.

The Pro version has lots of features that other plugins charge for. Take a look at the free vs paid chart. Custom event email and reminders are great features than many plugins don’t support or it is an additional paid addon.

Pros:

  • Developer friendly
  • Well documented
  • Recurring events
  • Event Categories
  • Build your own layouts in the widget
  • Event registration in the free version
  • Multisite support
  • BuddyPress support
  • iCal feed/Add to Google Calendar
  • create custom event attributes
  • Attendee custom forms in Pro Version
  • Multiple Tickets
  • Timezone support
  • Great developer, well maintained, and very responsive support

Cons:

  • User friendly (but read the documentation)
  • Paid Booking/Ticket system (Pro Version) has limited payment gateways (PayPal, Authorized.net, Stripe bust does have a custom payment API)
  • Does not integrate with Woocommerce or any 3rd party.
  • Recurring events are separate from regular events – can be confusing for the client
  • Shows all instances of recurring events
  • No unlimited license

Event On

Event Calendar Showdown

By AshanJay on Code Canyon
Free Version: No $24 per site
Premium/Pro Version: No.
Addons: Yes. It has a plethora of addons.

This event plugin just came on my radar in the past year. It has great reviews and responsive support. Of all the plugins it has the most addons at a reasonable price.

  • Duplicate events
  • Cancel events
  • Supports single and multiple day events
  • Create single day events
  • Create events without end day or time
  • Create all-day events
  • Duplicate events in wp-admin
  • Exclude certain events from calendar
  • Span events until end time while hiding end time
  • Set event location image
  • Set location by latitude longitude
  • Save locations and re-use them for events
  • Set event organizer contact information
  • Save event organizer for re-using in events
  • Learn more about the event link support
  • Various options for how a user can interact with event
  • Use universal time and date format through your website
  • Schema SEO content support for calendar events
  • Ability to auto archive past events
  • Easily add custom CSS styles via eventON Settings
  • Customize calendar month/year format
  • Customize calendar date and time formats
  • Ability to reset calendar appearance to default easily
  • Ability to open eventCards on load
  • Display upcoming events list by months
  • Pre-set calendar event order ASC/DESC
  • Show featured events above others in calendar
  • Show calendar with only featured events
  • Create calendars with featured images on list
  • Dynamic “load more” pagination of events in the calendar
  • Show calendar for certain fixed months
  • Ability to set eventCard opening to act as accordion style
  • RTL support – (right-to-left text)
  • Show a limit number of events per month on the calendar
  • Categorized events based on custom taxonomies
  • Create calendars with only events from certain event categories
  • Completely customize all the data on event rows in calendar
  • Customize google maps interactive features such as mouse scroll, zoom etc.
  • AJAX-driven smooth month to month navigation
  • Add a calendar to your theme via shortcode or PHP template tag
  • Integrated PayPal to accept payments for events
  • Custom Language Text support and includes POT file for further customization
  • Set events to show at random order
  • Show events only for logged-in users
  • Individual email to receive payments via PayPal per event
  • Make certain custom fields only visible to admin or logged-in users
  • Prioritize month and year-long events above others
  • Add multiple images to an event
  • EventON diagnose and environment via settings
  • Auto set past events as complete

Pros:

  • Not expensive
  • Unique calendar layouts
  • Duplicate Events
  • Lots of settings
  • Woocommerce compatible
  • Robust Tickets system (addon)
  • Enough addons to add nearly any feature you are looking for and still will spend less than the competitors

Cons:

  • Pricey for lots of sites – no unlimited options at this time.
  • Grid (regular month view is an addon)

Sugar Calendar

Sugar Calendar Event Plugin - Event Calendar Showdown

By  Sandhills Development, LLC
Free Version: Yes . $89-249
Premium/Pro Version: Yes – adds recurring events
Addons: Yes. Free and Paid

This is your bare-bones calendar plugin but yet I hear it recommended repeatedly in lots of Facebook Groups.

  • Simple Event Management
  • Beautiful Admin Interface
  • Ajax Enabled Calendar View
  • Events Custom Post Type
  • Event Calendar Custom Taxonomy
  • Simple Event Configuration
  • Easily Set Event Dates
  • Easily Set Event Start and End Time
  • Events Archive, Listed by Start Date
  • Widgets for displaying calendars and event filters
  • Shortcode for showing the calendar of events
  • Large and small calendar views

Pros:

  • Simple system if you don’t need a bunch of features
  • Established a reputable developer
  • Lifetime deal
  • Ninja and Gravity Forms integration (Pro Version) to set up your own event ticketing system.

Cons:

  • Requires Pro version for recurring events
  • Lack of layout options
  • No Woocommerce or Easy Digital Downloads Integration but you could just use a shortcode to add products to events.

Conclusion

If you are looking for a feature packed can-do-anything event calendar plugin look at Modern Events Calendar Pro or EventOn. Those have the most bang for your buck. Although I like The Events Calendar Pro Version and I am invested in their framework for Ticketing I am going to take a hard look at Modern Events Calendar Pro and EventOn as viable alternatives. The best plugin is going to always be the one that meets your functionality needs. The more information you have upfront the better choices you can make.

Have questions or want me to add your favorite to my free downloadable Event Calendar Comparison Chart? Drop me a line.

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