Burning Man 27 Aug – 4 Sep 2017
Rave Level 5/5
Family Friendly ⅖
Size: around 65,000
Vibe: Art, participation, community
What to wear: Avoid feathers and sequins as they shed. Buy lots of 'el-wire' to light yourself up at night!
Activities: Anything you can imagine
Hardcore 'burners' (as some attendees like to refer to themselves) would hate to see their beloved Burning Man listed as a festival. You might have heard that there is no money at Burning Man but this is about more than just a cash free festival, there are no organisers as such, it is not so much a festival as it is an experiment in community and art, influenced by 10 main principles.The 10 principles include inclusion, self-reliance and self-expression, community cooperation, gifting and and leaving no trace.
That said the event has grown over the years and many Brits now view this as part of the summer festival season. You no longer need to be willing to camp in a tent in the searing Nevada desert and eat cup noodles for a week in order to enjoy all there is on offer. It is easier than ever to find out information and to get organised to attend Burning Man and it isn't quite the extreme exercise in survival that many burners will tell you it used to be.
A festival where there is no money, how does that work?
Many people assume that the community survives on bartering or exchange in place of cash, it doesn't. The principle is that you bring in everything that you need and take out all your rubbish with you, leaving no trace that you were ever there. Bringing everything includes entertainment, so in place of stages set up by organisers (there is a central BM committee but they only provide basic infrastructure and ticketing) there are theme camps. many theme camps are music camps and some of the biggest have a loyal global fan-following outside of Burning Man, such as Robot Heart, or are talked about as having music to rival some of the greatest clubs on earth (DSTRKT). There are camps for the LBGT community (the Pink Mammoth is a favourite Sunday daytime party) and a whole non-music scene of theme camps for everything from cupcake making to yoga and theatre to group-sex.
Day and night
Burning Man takes place in the Nevada desert and at night temperatures can plunge to well below zero. In the daytime many revellers will wander around totally nude (almost anything goes at Burning Man) but at night you will need to wrap up warm. Not only that but lighting provided by organisers is limited, so you will need to bring torches and attach onto yourself lots of battery powered fairy lights, bike lights and 'el-wire' so that you can see and be seen - it really is pitch black out there!
The site, once set up, is lovingly referred to as Black Rock City and sprawls across an area probably larger than Glastonbury and (so that there is some semblance of order and you can find your way 'home' at the end of the day) it is laid out in concentric circles (see a map of Black Rock City 2016 HERE. At the heart of the city is the man and the temple. Each are erected from wood each year (the temple has a new design every year too) and each are burned at the end of a festival as part of a poignant ceremony, to which each participant attaches whatever meaning they choose.
Because there is no formal 'line-up' each theme camp has it's own music policy. Over the years some of the bigger music camps have secured big name House, Electronic and psy-trance DJs and the selection is as diverse as the population of Black Rock city. part of the fun is cycling around (it's so big no one walks anywhere, rent or buy a bike before you come) and stopping off to listen to some death metal and drink tea with goths before making friends with some steam-punk sparkle-ponies and bopping away to a bit of disco. This event is all about getting outside your comfort zone, not seeking out what you know you already like.
This is not a festival for foodies.Burning Man encourages individuals to discover, exercise and rely on his or her inner resources. The event's harsh environment and remote location combined with the expectation that all participants are responsible for their own subsistence means be prepared to bring all your own supplies You also need to leave as little waste as possible to take out (as well as storing your waste for a week in the heat of the desert) so choose your food carefully! Even with an RV and a generator powered fridge drunk to cook. Many camps offer food and have a rota to staff a shared kitchen, standards vary wildly across camps but vegans and those with allergies are well catered for by some camps such as Disco Knights and Ooligan Alley (both popular with Brits).
Camping or RVs that are set up before you arrive are sometimes referred to by the BM community as 'turn-key' camps. These are strongly discouraged by some long-term burners who consider that they are not in the spirit of full participation and radical self reliance. However, there are a number of providers for these services if you have the right contact and can get 'approved' by camp committees. Turn-key camps will require you to pay into camp funds to cover your costs, prices vary wildly depending on the standard of accomodation and food provided. Luxuries like private loos and showers can be included in some, for a fee... However, don't think that this gets you off the hook for participation, at Camp Gitane in 2015 even Hollywood royalty Susan Sarandon had to do a shift on the bar and was seen serving vodka tonics to her mate Ruby Wax and to mere mortals who'd popped in to the plush Cirque Gitane bar tent for a drink.
For Tickets: www.burningman.org