Burning Man: 6 Things to Know About the Craziest Festival Ever

burning manIf you like experiments in temporary communities, radical self reliance, glow sticks, and a giant burning man, then do I have a festival for you. This week-long annual event, aptly called Burning Man, has been held in Black Rock Desert in northern Nevada every year since 1991. (The annual gathering actually began in 1986, but was held near San Francisco.) So what is this Burning Man festival, exactly? Good freaking question. Let's try and figure it out all together.

  • Burning Man 2011 started Monday, August 29 and ends Monday, September 5. The websites elaborates on what participants can expect:

Once a year, tens of thousands of participants gather in Nevada's Black Rock Desert to create Black Rock City, dedicated to community, art, self-expression, and self-reliance. They depart one week later, having left no trace whatsoever. Burning Man isn't your usual festival, with big acts booked to play on massive stages. In fact, it's more of a city than a festival, wherein almost everything that happens is created entirely by its citizens, who are active participants in the event.

  • OK. So sounds kind of like a real-life Sims? I'm into it. You're 100 percent responsible for your own safety and survival. "Survival" makes it sound like there are rogue warriors out to get you in this radical "temporary community," but I think it's more just preparedness in case there's a storm, or you get your period.
  • Corporate advertising is not allowed at Burning Man, and nothing is sold other than coffee and ice. Note: No free Snapple samples! No cash either; you can trade with other participants.
  • There is no "they" in Black Rock Desert, only "us." Their website warns:

If you see someone acting irresponsibly, introduce yourself and speak up. Also, don’t be a “participation snob”. Just because someone isn’t costumed or visibly participating doesn’t mean they aren’t contributing.

  • So there are costumes? Oh, are there ever. The event is centered around art appreciation in all forms. Including costumes. Last year, over 50,000 people participated, and for the first time in history, the event was sold out this year. That's a lot of rad costume rentals!
  • But I guess what I'm most interested in is this burning man, right? Apparently the close to 100-foot wooden man goes up in flames Saturday night. (He was 104 feet last year, TBD this year.)

It seems like a great event (what we're all missing) but I don't know if I could handle seven days in the desert in some sort of utopia sans flushing toilets. Love the photos, though!

Would you go to Burning Man?

Photo via Stephan Kaz/Flickr

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