Starting in San Francisco in 1986, Burning Man has become one of the most talked about events of the 2000s.
Burning Man, a city built from scratch in the middle of the desert for one week of the year, is about art, radical self-expression and self-reliance. At the end of the week, a giant wooden man you’ve grown accustomed to seeing at the base of your city is set on fire, a way to say “fuck the man” but also celebrate the self-reliance you just experienced for the week.
Little do travelers know, though, Burning Man is much tougher than one would think.
You need to survive in the desert after all, with two gallons of water per day, a tent to sleep in, sleeping bag and some goggles and a handkerchief to protect yourself from the random dust storms. The desert also becomes cold at night, so you need to dress in layers to stay warm.
You’ll quickly realize Burning Man is not your normal event. Rather, the experience will challenge you.
But that’s what’s cool about it. The social norms of society are gone. Instead of traditional cars, people use Art Cars. Instead of walking, they ride neon bicycles. Money is useless. Showers are rare. You’ll see random works of public art scattered throughout the playa.
If you learn from the vets and keep an open mind, the Burning Man culture can take over your mindset.
Burning Man has accomplished the feat of building a random, self-reliant city in the middle of the desert. From the neon at night, to the camps you’ll come across gifting random items, to the people you’ll meet, Burning Man is an event you’ll only understand when you join. Research properly, leave no trace when you leave and you’ll fit right in.
Location of Burning Man
Other Burning Man Tips
- Finding a ride to Burning Man should be your top priority. You’re traveling to the Black Rock Desert of Nevada, far away from public transportation or anything else.
- Be serious about your survival items. That means food, water and shelter. If you arrive without the means of survival, you’ll be turned away at the gate.
- The weather is wild. Be prepared for freezing wind at night and upward of 100-degree temperatures in the daytime. The weather is unpredictable; dress for all temperatures and conditions.
- Bring a bike lock. Burning Man is about everything for everyone, but nothing is worse than losing your ride when you need it.
- Decorate your bike. You can use sequins, streamers, neon tubing or anything else. How else are you going to identify it among the thousands of other rides?
- Be careful with drugs. Undercover cops are in full force and ready to bust you, even for marijuana. Be aware.
- Money is no good. Instead, bring items for gifting. Burning Man is about self-reliance and self-expression in a temporary community, not about cash.
- Leave space for your trash. EVERYTHING you bring with you to the desert needs to go home with you. That means banana peels, cigarette butts, beer bottles. Q-tips — EVERYTHING. Otherwise, find yourself on the moop map.
- Check out the first-timers guide for the rules before, during and after the event.
Are You Ready to Attend Burning Man?
You can purchase your tickets online. The event typically sells out fast, and you CANNOT buy tickets when you arrive.