The Gala runs for one local month every Illium year; Illium's longer-than-average year (equivalent to 1.5 Terran years) results in the festival dates shifting considerably in relation to the Citadel standard calendar, which is seen as a positive by organisers, who reason that it prevents the Gala from clashing with any other given galactic event more than one year at a time.
Events run in all major Illian cities throughout the Gala, with schedules arranged so that each city occupies the spotlight for a time; Nos Astra always opens and closes the Gala. A number of regular events occur each year, including the Nos Astra Technology Exhibition, and Illium Fashion Week, which is hosted by each of Illium's nine original settlements in turn.
As a tourism incentive, Illium's governing Board arranges low-cost fares on a number of major passenger lines operating from nodal travel centres such as the Citadel, Thessia, Palaven and Sur'Kesh, and temporarily adjusts fees for local hospitality businesses to ensure sufficient traveller accomodation is available to prevent prices from being pushed unreasonably high. Given the unflattering reputation of some of Illium's policies, including the practice of indentured servitude, and the availability of substances illegal elsewhere, the planet's tourism agencies go to considerable lengths to make information available to tourists explaining local laws, and emphasising Illium's impressive record on public safety.
Selected events during the 2186CE Gala
- The Linyara Dance Company of Thessia made their first off-world trip for fifty standard years, performing the premiere of a new show.
- Tasale Fleet, Illium's system defence navy, performed two days of demonstration manoeuvres, including controlled live-fire exercises, and the participation of the fleet flagship Vale Vigilant, which rarely conducts exercises open to civilian viewing.
- The Honoured Matriarchs of the Endless Sky, a revered group of spiritual philosophers, hosted a seminar during which they met and conversed with members of the public.
- The Amateur Theatrics Tournament Showcase took place over a week, including the grand final of the ATT's year-long competition. Due to a sharp increase in audience numbers due to the consolidation of the showcase and grand final, the event was moved from the Matriarch Tenera Performance Theatre to the Helix Arena, where it occupied an event stage constructed there for a number of Gala shows.
- The Nos Astra Technology Exhibition featured the much-ancitipated debut of new omni-tool models from the Armali Council and Serrice Council.
- Illium Fashion Week was held in Nos Erra.
- The Illian Stars exotic dance troupe performed a special one-off show in Nos Astra, using a routine developed specially for the Gala which will not be performed live again.
- With 2186's Gala coinciding with the Biotic Games on Tiala, a number of giant magna-screen viewing arenas were in operation around all major cities, streaming live stellarcasts and event highlights from the Games.