The Cornucopia is a giant golden (in the book) or silver (in the movie) horn-shaped cone with a curved tail. In each year's Hunger Games, the tributes launch into the arena and start off in the shape of semicircle, equidistant to the Cornucopia. The mouth is at least 20 feet high and is filled with supplies and weapons that could help the tributes. Contradictory to the books, both The Hunger Games and the Catching Fire movies show the Cornucopia as a large gray structure that resembles a horn only abstractly. However, both forms of media have this in common: the Cornucopia is the death of many tributes due to the large amount of desirable items found in and around it.
In the 10th Hunger Games, no Cornucopia existed, only a pile of weapons. This was due to the fact the earlier Games were taken place in a stadium at the Capitol.
In the 74th Hunger Games the Cornucopia was used for the feast that was held, possibly because every tribute knew where it was located and that it was easily found. The contents of the Cornucopia vary with each game. For example, in an unidentified Hunger Games, the Cornucopia was filled with only spiked maces which the tributes had to bludgeon each other to death.
During the 75th Hunger Games, the Cornucopia was stocked with only weapons. It spun around and Peeta speculated the tail pointed to the 12 o' clock mark. Typically, the Cornucopia is the site of a bloodbath at the beginning of each of the Games because of the bounty available and how close all the tributes are to each other. The bloodbath is where many of the tributes die. In the 74th Hunger Games, 11 tributes died; most of them were killed by the Career Tributes, who wanted the space and weapons. Instead of battling it out, many of the tributes decide to flee, only grabbing what they can. The Cornucopia can also be used for shelter, like in the 74th Hunger Games where the Careers camped out. In the final battle of the 74th Hunger Games, wolf muttations chased Katniss, Peeta, and Cato to the Cornucopia, where Cato eventually fell to the mutts and was finished off by Katniss.
The supplies from the Cornucopia can be spread out around the Cornucopia or close together, depending on what the Gamemakers decide to do for the games. For example, in the 74th Hunger Games, the supplies were spread wide around the Cornucopia while in the 75th Hunger Games, the Cornucopia was situated on an island and the supplies were placed inside or just at the entrance to the Cornucopia. The area around the Cornucopia was also segmented into twelve radial sections, hinting to the various events that happen during the 75th Hunger Games.
The Cornucopia is sometimes used as a hiding place during the Games.
- In the movie, in the beginning of the 74th Hunger Games, the boy from District 4 hid inside the Cornucopia during the bloodbath. However, at the bloodbath's end, when he tried to run into the forest after gathering some gear, he was quickly killed by Cato.
- During the feast, Foxface hid right inside the Cornucopia. Then she ran out, grabbed the backpack with her district number (5) on it, and ran into the forest, knowing that no one would chase her down because everyone's backpack was still at the Cornucopia.
- When Katniss, Peeta and Cato tried to escape from the muttations, they climbed up on the Cornucopia, out of the mutt's reach just before the finale of the games.
- In Catching Fire, after Gloss kills Wiress, Brutus and Enobaria hide from Katniss Everdeen's arrows behind the Cornucopia.
- Weapons for survival
- Backpacks to store things and that have supplies in them
- Food to keep tributes alive
- Water bottles (empty or filled)
- Sleeping bags
- Traps (nets, snares, etc.)
- Medicines (bandages, rubbing alcohol, anti-septics, etc.)
- Small blankets
- Matches and other fire-starting tools
The weapons in the Cornucopia were used for killing. The backpacks had a variety of supplies. Food was used to help prevent hunger. Tools and gear were useful for camping and building (in the 75th Hunger Games, they used a spile to tap trees for water). Water bottles contained water or other liquids to help the owner prevail. Traps could be used to capture animals for food or other tributes. Clothing could be used for fresh items to wear or to keep tributes warm. Medicines were used to treat for natural illnesses and temperatures (like Peeta had in the cave). Small blankets could be used during cold nights and to keep warm. Iodine was used to purify water, thus killing bacteria and keeping it clean. There were also supplies spread out around the Cornucopia, but their value decreased the closer they were to the tributes.
There are some differences in how the Cornucopia is portrayed in the film:
- It is silver and shaped more like a cubic horn, showing the modern side of the Capitol. This design also allows Katniss, Peeta and Cato to climb to the top of it easily.
- In the film, Katniss and Peeta prepare to eat the nightlock while they are at the Cornucopia instead of by the lake. This also changes their pickup location by hovercraft.
Cornucopia means 'Horn of Plenty'. The placement of the tributes' weapons and bags in this place is therefore appropriate.
- In Greek mythology, the first Cornucopia was formed from a horn pulled off Achelous, a river god's head by Hercules. It could be filled with whichever food the holder desired, simply by asking or thinking about the food.
- In Catching Fire, the Cornucopia was in the center of the arena and its tail was pointing at the 12th hour of the 'clock'.
- The design of the Cornucopia changes in The Hunger Games and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.
- In the book, the Cornucopia is gold, like the ones used at harvest time, while in the movie it is silver.
- In the book, it is said to be a horn, but the movie shows the Cornucopia as completely new structure.