Burning man is unpredictable in just about every sense.
There are dust storms, high winds, freezing temperatures, scorching hot temperatures, and always the possibility of rain.
Yet, the weather is nothing compared to the partying, costumes, free shows and art installations. Not to mention, the people you’ll meet while you’re there.
Held in the Black Rock Desert of northwest Nevada, Burning Man is essentially held in the middle of nowhere. The closest civilization is Reno, which is about 100 miles to the north-northeast.
The event takes place at the end of August through the beginning of September, lasting nine days on through Labor Day Weekend. The festival is filled with installations, music, artistic performances, and non-stop partying.
Check out these wild photos to see just how out of this world Burning Man truly is.
This is no Coachella or Stagecoach. While it’s tempting to call it a festival, according to its organizers, it’s not a festival.
Instead, “Burning Man is a community. A temporary city. A global cultural movement based on 10 practical principals,” the official website reads.
The 10 principles include things like radical inclusion, decommodification (no money is passed between hands), radical self-reliance, leaving no trace, and participation.
From an aerial vantage point, it really does look like a community filled with tents, trailers, and RVs brought in by participants.
While tickets fetch a pretty penny (they ranged anywhere from $425 to $1,400 in 2019), participants needn’t bring cash.
You are expected to bring everything you need to survive, from food to water to shelter and party supplies, because nothing is offered for sale throughout the event.
Well, actually, there are two things you can buy at Burning Man – ice and coffee. Everything else is all on you.
Around 70,000 people attend every year – with more people coming each year.
There are always unexpected events and works of artistic expressions. Largely because Burning Man doesn’t book any performers or entertainers for the event.
Instead, participants are encouraged to perform for the community free of charge.
Participants bring their a-game, offering everything from wine tasting to zip lining and even massages, all free of charge.
You’ll find people wandering on foot or onboard scooters and bicycles, navigating between different campsites.
Friends, family and complete strangers get together to cook, dance, drink, make art, and have a good time. Some people even get married at Burning Man.
The event gets its name from the burning of a large wooden sculpture at the end of the event.
For instance, in 2018, the festival closed with the burning of the Temple Galaxia, a 65-foot wooden structure that symbolized the fabric of the universe and how all living things are connected.
Before the temple was lit on fire, people created memorials for deceased loved ones and past relationships. A healing process for thousands of people who watched the Temple burn to the ground.
The radical event is organized by the non-profit organization Burning Man Project.
Technically, drugs are illegal at Burning Man, but that doesn’t stop people from bringing them in. “…they [drugs] are easier to find than candy on Halloween,” Nick Bilton wrote of Burning Man in The New York Times.
Attendees are called “Burners,” and they come from all walks of life. From everyday people to wealthy tech CEOs and celebrities. Tesla’s Elon Musk has attended on more than one occasion.
“If you haven’t been, you just don’t get it,” Musk was quoted about the event in the New York Times.
Then there was the time Mark Zuckerberg dropped in for one day via helicopter to serve up grilled cheese sandwiches to participants.
Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin have also made their appearance, arriving disguised in full spandex body suits.
Two friends from San Francisco, Larry Harvey and Jerry James, founded Burning Man.
One day, Harvey called up Jerry and said, “Let’s… let’s burn a man, Jerry.”
From there, the two friends went to work constructing an 8-foot tall effigy made from scrap lumber that they proceeded to burn on a beach in San Francisco.
There’s something called “Billionaire’s Row,” a luxury camp set up by the wealthiest Burners who come with their bodyguards, cooks and other staff.
In the past, even the richest of the rich used to arrive with RVs and pre-cooked meals. Over the years, this has changed. Now they come with world-class chefs, and yurts outfitted with comfy beds and air conditioning.
Many people complain that Billionaire’s Row is tampering with the spirit of the event.
Regardless, the spirit of Burning Man remains alive and well.