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What Is It? The Burning Man Festival

“In one word: FANTASTIC! It’s like nothing else I’ve ever experienced.” That is how one local attendee describes Burning Man.

The first event was held in 1986 on Baker Beach in San Francisco as a small function organized by artist Larry Harvey and a group of friends. They would all gather and burn a statue of a man on the summer solstice. Nowadays, the event is held in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert and is an annual festival that occurs over from the last Sunday in August to the first Monday in September (Labor Day), but is the festival right for everyone?

All photos courtesy Tamara Greenwell.

Burning Man is a festival of radical self-expression. The whole event is a representation of a few simple ideas. Once you enter, there is no money or forms of currency, only trading goods and gifting. The other main ideal of the event is “leaving no trace.” According to the Burning Man website, “Our community respects the environment. We are committed to leaving no physical trace of our activities wherever we gather. We clean up after ourselves and endeavor, whenever possible, to leave such places in a better state than when we found them.”

There are many wonderful reasons someone would attend Burning Man. An avid Burning Man attendee, Tamara Greenwell, says about her experiences: “People go for lot of reasons; for me it’s about the art and the gifting culture. Imagine not using money for a week, walking across a desert playa in a dust storm and finding shelter in a massive metal warthog sculpture (see attached pic). Gifts range from popsicles (such a treat in 100+ temps) and hugs to works of art. My art is photography, so I take Polaroid photos of people.”


Burning Man is available for all ages. Roughly, half of all attendees are from ages 18 to 30. Ages range from small children all the way up 71+. Although there is not a set age limit, all the same rules apply for drugs and other crimes. Some people still enjoy the substances inside their own vehicles and camps, but it is not any different from Coachella or any county fair. Nudity is also a go-ahead for the festival because it is a private event.

Anyone interested in this kind of artistic, free environment should try to attend Burning Man at least once in their relatively short life. This could be the meeting point of some great new friends and possibly a significant other. Finding yourself and having wonderful experiences is what Burning Man is known for.





2 replies on “What Is It? The Burning Man Festival”

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