The Burning Man is a yearly nine-day event that typically starts on the last Sunday in August and ends on the first Monday (Labor Day) in September. For the year 2020, the opening day will be on the 30th of August and the closing day will be on the 7th of September.
What happens during the opening day of the Burning Man?
The temporary city is surrounded by a perimeter fence. All participants have to go through the gate where they present their tickets before entering the city. The gate greeters, in turn, give the participants a book that contains the list of activities during the week. It also contains a map of the camps found throughout the city.
The book of activities you receive only serves as a guide though. There’s no set schedule that you have to strictly follow. You’re basically free to explore the area at your own time and pleasure. However, some activities do have certain schedules, so if you want to participate in some, be sure to check your book.
For those who have early passes, they can enter the city before the first day to set up their camps and art pieces. For the rest of the participants, they have to wait for the gate to open, which opens promptly at 12:01 am.
If you’re new to the Burn, there is also a sort of initiation that you have to go through. You’ll be asked to ring a bell, after which you’ll have to roll around in the dust. Once done, you’re free to locate your campsite and enjoy what the Burn has to offer.
Of note, they don’t sell any tickets at the gate. Those with no tickets will not be allowed entrance, and those who are looking for day passes will also be turned away. The event doesn’t offer single-day tickets nor do they offer weekend tickets.
The ticket you purchased gives you access to the whole duration of the event. This gives you ample time to really experience what Burning Man is all about and immerse yourself in the different camps and activities.
Of course, you are not obliged to stay for the entire duration of the Burn. You’re free to come and go as you please, as long as you have a pass which costs $20 and can be purchased at the gate. Leaving the city and returning without a pass means you will have to pay for a full ticket price again to get back to your camp.
What are the activities to do at the Burning Man?
You will never run out of activities to do or things to see while in the playa. There are over 1,500 theme camps to visit and over 400 placed arts to see. Some of these artworks are even interactive, evoking emotional and spiritual responses from participants.
As for activities to do, you can have coffee or tea in one of the many booths and tents and pay for it with a story or a secret, or you can lounge around all afternoon and cuddle with teddy bears. You can attend a friendship ceremony with your best friend and cement that strong bond. You can even also get married to your special someone.
You can watch movies all day long or party all night long. If you’re not in the mood for loud music, then there are plenty of performances to enjoy. The Burn has it all when it comes to creativity and performances. There are fire dances, spoken poetry, debates, live music, workshops, theaters, contests, cooking and baking classes, yoga, Zumba dancing, belly dancing, massage sessions, and many more. And yes, there’s even an orgy dome for those who want to explore their sensual side.
In addition to the thousands of activities to enjoy, there are also many people to get to know. They are a walking, living art with their grand and lavish costumes and incredible face paintings. But more than their costumes though, they are beautiful, interesting, and lovely people to enjoy and make friends with.
The Burn is not all about parties and fun activities. It is also a spiritual journey. You can let go of a past hurt at the Temple or honor a deceased loved one. You can leave a prayer or recite your own poem. You can make a wish or thank a special someone. A visit to the temple is a must and can be a sacred experience that will stay with you for a long time.
When does the Man burn?
The Man burns on the Saturday night prior to Labor Day.
The ceremony kicks off with an astounding performance by a group of fire dancers. Then the night sky is split open by an amazing display of beautiful fireworks. For 15 minutes, bright and colorful flashes of light lit the sky up.
After the firework display, the Man is lit. You can’t help but cheer with the crowd as they celebrate the burning of the Man. Starting with a little flicker, the effigy is engulfed by a steadily growing fire, the fire dancing in celebration with the crowd.
When does the Temple burn?
The Temple burns on Sunday night, the last night of the nine-day Burning Man gathering.
Unlike the burning of the Man though, this ceremony is more somber. It is met by a respectful silence. There’s no loud music to celebrate its burning, and there’s no loud talking to break the meditative mood.
Instead, it’s met by contemplative and pensive silence. The Temple burning is almost religious and deeply personal. All the prayers and heartaches whispered in its corridors and all the wishes and heartfelt gratitude are offered up to the sky.
You let go of everything that weighs you down as the Temple burns. And as its ashes drift away with the wind, you feel freer and readier to face the journey ahead.
When does the Burning Man end?
As the sun rises on the last day of the Burning Man, you prepare for your long journey home. You pack up your belongings and make sure that you leave no traces of your presence at the playa. You pick up all your trash, even if it’s a very small piece of paper.
The organization has a very strict Leave No Trace policy. They know who stayed where and in what campsite, and they will rate each campsite based on how the participants left them.
So if you want another chance to join the Burning Man, you better make sure you left no traces behind. Break their rules and you might find yourself banned from the event.
What happens during the last day of the Burning Man?
Nothing much happens on the last day of the Burning Man except waiting to get onto Highway 34. The traffic is long, and the wait seems even longer. So you need a lot of patience during this time and some fun activities to do to while away a few hours.
If you want to beat the traffic caused by the caravan of vehicles leaving the temporary city, then there’s only one thing to do. Leave well before the event’s culmination. But this means missing the burning of either the Man or the Temple. If you are an avid participant of the Burn, then missing these ceremonies is definitely out of the question.
You can also schedule to leave during off-peak times. This gives you ample time to get off the playa without having to deal with a long line of vehicles.
Or if you have one more day to spare, why not help with the restoration and leave on Tuesday Morning? It’s a good way to give back to the organization that provides the Burners a home each year. It’s also a great way to spend more time with some of your newfound friends.
How do you pass the time in traffic?
The long wait can sometimes test someone’s patience. But in the spirit of the Burning Man, this last day can also even become an extension of the event. The traffic doesn’t have to rob you off of the playa vibe (and your patience!) but enhance the experience itself, becoming part of the Burn.
The organization has set up a simple system called Pulsing. Here, the cars stop for a while, turning their engines off for about 15 minutes to an hour. The length of time depends on how near you are to the front, with those in the front having the shortest rest time.
Pulsing doesn’t speed up the movement of vehicles though, but it does offer the Burners some benefits. One, it saves you some fuel. Two, you get to meet more people during these breaks. It is a great way to keep the spirit of the Burn alive as you mingle and share your experiences with other Burners.
For nine days each year, Black Rock City becomes home to tens of thousands of Burners from all over the globe. It starts with great excitement as its gate opens for the opening day (last Sunday in August) and ends in a bittersweet note as the Burners leave their temporary home on the last day (first Monday in September / Labor Day.