I am using an events plugin and struggling to get my database query to be perfect. The query is on the event-single.php template. What I need the query to do:

  • Query the "events" custom post type for upcoming events
  • Sort by _event_start_date meta_key to show earliest date (nearest event)
  • Not display PAST events
  • If "current event", show next nearest event

Here's my current $args.

<?php $args = array(
    'post__not_in' => array($donotrepeat),
    "post_type" => 'event',
    'meta_key' => '_event_start_date', // name of custom field
    'orderby' => 'meta_value_num',
    "order" => 'ASC',
    "posts_per_page" => 1

Defining $donotrepeat earlier

$donotrepeat = get_the_ID();

So far, the query successfully

  • Queries custom post type
  • Ignores the "current" event
  • Sorts by earliest date.

I cannot figure out how to ignore 'past' dates though. There is another meta key 'scope' created by this plugin that contains values like 'past' and 'future' - so that could be promising.

I've tried using meta_query to sort through the past date issue, but I just can't seem to get it to work. I think this is probably the way to go, but I'm open to other ideas. I'm sure this isn't THAT difficult... can anyone help?

  • How is the date stored? YYYY-MM-DD? Timestamp?
    – vancoder
    Commented Mar 18, 2013 at 19:33
  • It's YYYY-MM-DD
    – timshutes
    Commented Mar 19, 2013 at 0:03

1 Answer 1


You're pretty close, but I wouldn't be distracted by the 'scope' meta key. The following is untested.

$args = array(
    'post__not_in' => array($donotrepeat),
    "post_type" => 'event',
    'meta_key' => '_event_start_date', // name of custom field
    'orderby' => 'meta_value',
    "order" => 'ASC',
    "posts_per_page" => 1,
    'meta_query' => array(
            'key' => '_event_start_date',
            'value' => date('Y-m-d'),
            'compare' => '>=',
            'type' => 'DATE'

The meta_key is only present for ordering - meta_query controls the actual selection.

Note that I left your posts_per_page as is, even though it will limit the selection to one record.

  • thanks this worked perfectly! I knew meta_query was the answer, just missed on the date format. Thanks!
    – timshutes
    Commented Mar 19, 2013 at 4:16
  • type => DATE is the magic. Not found in so many websites. Thanks @vancoder
    – Khom Nazid
    Commented Apr 11, 2022 at 22:52

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