An arena is a large, enclosed, outdoor area where the Hunger Games are held each year. Arenas are designed by the Gamemakers and a new one is built every year. It could be anything from dense forest to an open meadow, a frozen wasteland to a scorched desert, etc. The Gamemakers plant traps and cunning ideas into the arena, to entertain the people of Panem. All arenas have a Cornucopia, which contains weapons, food, etc. It is also where the tributes launch into the arena to begin the Games. Also, all the arenas have force fields around them that will bounce back anything that hits it. Over the years a few tributes have used it as a weapon. The arenas were considered important historical landmarks and were preserved after the conclusion of the Games. The arenas were also a popular tourist destination for many Capitol citizens who would spend a vacation visiting the arena from their favorite games, where they would be able to rewatch the Games, visit the sites of the deaths, and even take part in reenactments. After the end of the Second Rebellion, all the arenas were destroyed, and memorials to the hundreds of teenagers, and adult victors from the 75th Hunger Games, killed within their confines were constructed in their place.
The 50th Hunger Games' arena was a big, beautiful meadow, with flowers, streams, pools, birds and a picturesque mountain and sharp, jagged rocks. But everything was lethal. The tributes of these Games had to face harmless-looking squirrels which were in fact carnivorous; the picturesque mountain that was actually a volcano; flowers that poisoned someone if inhaled too directly; pink birds with skewer-like beaks that killed Maysilee Donner, and dehydration, due to the fact that the only sources of water that weren't toxic were from the bounty at the Cornucopia or rainfall. District 12 tribute, Haymitch Abernathy, used the force field around the arena to stay alive and win the second Quarter Quell. When only he and the female tribute from District 1 were left, she threw an axe at him but hit the force field instead, causing it to bounce back and hit her in the head. This made Haymitch the victor.
The 70th Hunger Games' arena included a dam that was broken during the games by an earthquake made to wipe out many of the tributes. The arena was flooded because the Gamemakers believed that the Games were getting too "boring." Most of the tributes drowned, but Annie Cresta, the strongest swimmer, survived and won the Hunger Games. Her district partner was beheaded in front of her and that was the cause of her mental instability.
This is shown in The Hunger Games film, with the arena being mainly a ruined city, having since fallen to pieces. The victor was a boy who won by smashing a brick into the skull of another male tribute.
- Main article: 74th Hunger Games arena
In the movie, the arena is mostly a wooded forest, with mountainous higher areas to the south flat plains to the west. A single large river runs through the east of the arena that feeds the large lake by the Cornucopia.
- Main article: 75th Hunger Games arena
The 75th Hunger Games' arena was set up like a clock. The 12 to 1 wedge consisted of the tall tree that was periodically struck by lightning during the 12th hour, which proved to be a very important factor later on in the novel. The other sections of the "clock" each had a tall tree identical to the 12 to 1 tree to throw tributes off, and were made up of different "horrors" that were unleashed by the hour. The horrors consisted of an acid fog, blood rain, an unknown beast, a tidal wave, carnivorous monkeys, jabberjays that repeat the sounds of loved ones screaming in terror, unknown species of insects that emit loud clicking noises, and more which are not mentioned.
This arena was very small, and circular in shape, which tipped Wiress off to the set-up of the clock mechanism. A powerful force-field surrounded it, and the Cornucopia lay in the middle of the arena, its tail pointing in the direction of the 12th hour, and was surrounded by water and spokes that held the tributes as they are first raised into the arena. The trees contained in the arena were full of the only water that can be consumed safely, which had to be extracted by a spile, or by hacking at the bark.
This arena appears to be made of a series of hexagonal screens mounted to a girder system with a force field on the inside that prevents damage from occurring. When Katniss fires the arrow into the arena roof five billion joules both overload the forcefield and short out the screen, causing power loss at the Games HQ. As Katniss laid on the arena floor, paralysed by fear and big burning chunks of the arena falling preventing her escape, the arena at the point of impact collapsed inwards, enabling the hovercraft to get in to rescue them.
Some other arenas are mentioned but it is unknown in which Hunger Games they appeared:
Frozen tundra - Katniss said that these Games were a little boring to the Capitol because most of the tributes froze to death, instead of being killed by one another.
It was also mentioned in The Hunger Games that 17 tributes died on the first day.
The year that Titus, a District 6 male tribute, went savage and resorted to cannibalism.
An avalanche then killed him, which may have been started by the Gamemakers.
Katniss said that she thought they did it because although cannibalism isn't illegal in the Games, the Gamemakers still dislike it.
Scrub terrain - Katniss mentioned this year had many boulders and scruffy bushes.
She said that most tributes died of bites from venomous snakes or they went insane from thirst.
- Katniss, Finnick, Haymitch, Peeta, Beetee and Mags are the only known tributes to have used the forcefield to their advantage in the 75th Hunger Games. Although Peeta's heart was stopped by the forcefield, and he had to be saved by Finnick.
- Katniss mentions in The Hunger Games that most of the arenas have trees in them "because barren landscapes are dull and the Games resolve too quickly without them.".