Burning Man- a temporary community experience in the middle of the Nevada Desert. About 70,000 people attend this event annually to experience a unique kind of event and community. Burning Man is a place that allows complete freedom of expression, is full of art, people of all ages, music, love & more. This is our beginner’s guide to Burning Man! If you’ve never been, we cover all topics to help you prepare for your first burn.
Burning Man it what is because of the community and principles that make it so unique. You can read them more in detail here but I’ll summarise them briefly for you below so you get an idea!
- Radical Inclusion- Anyone and everyone is welcome at Burning Man
- Gifting- Gifting is part of the community. It is not trade so a gift given does not mean something must be offered in exchange
- Decommodification- There is no selling or advertising on Playa. Burning Man is not a backdrop for your products
- Radical Self-reliance- Burners are expected to bring all they need for the week to survive (and a little more to gift!)
- Radical Self-expression- This is the freedom to express yourself however you wish on Playa. Get creative or walk around nude- it’s up to you
- Communal Effort- Our community values cooperation and collaboration
- Civic Responsibility- We value taking care of each other with civic responsibility
- Leaving No Trace- Everything you pack in you take out! There are no trash cans at Burning Man
- Participation- We build a strong community through participation- so get involved!
- Immediacy- The best think about the burn- being present in the moment
Burning Man is built on community! This means the event is what it is because people come together, they build, they volunteer, they create, the support each other and they pour their hearts and souls into the event and the art! So what better way to experience Burning Man than to help create it what it is. Here are some ways you can get involved at the Burn (and even before the burn!)
- Volunteer at Centre Camp- You can look at volunteering opportunities through your Burner Profile or sign up at the Burn to help make coffees
- Help build an art project (either pre-burn or after burn!)
- Get an early entry pass and help build your camp or put together an art piece
- Gift an experience on Playa- you could organise a yoga class, give a talk, cook food or give a performance. The choice is yours!
For more info on volunteering, see Burning Man’s Website.
With the burn just under five months away, FOMO and main sale tickets have been and gone. If you didn’t score any tickets in the horror that was the main sale, don’t fret- there are still ways to secure tickets! Through Burning Man direct these are the important dates to note:
OMG Sale Registration:July 24, 2019 at 12pm (noon) to July 26, 2019 at 12pm (noon) PDT
OMG Sale starts: July 31, 2019 at 12pm (noon) PDT
As well as this sale there will be the STEP program which allows people to re-sell their tickets back to Burning Man and allow other Burners to purchase them. There are no dates yet when this opens so keep checking the website for updates.
If you look for tickets elsewhere, just note there are a lot of ticket scalpers out there! Tickets should never be re-sold for more than face value. You can double check ticket barcode validity on Burning Man’s website to ensure you are buying legitimate tickets.
This is the big questions- to free camp or join a camp? Josh and I have done both over the years so here are our pro’s & con’s to both:
Joining a camp:
- Camp infrastructure such as chill out place, kitchen & toilet are super handy, especially if you are camping in a tent
- Great way to meet people
- Great way to give back to Burning Man by participating in your camps gift/setting up or packing down camp
- Easier to organise RV fill/dump through your camp
- Some camps require and expect a lot of time from you which can be a bummer for your first burn
- Some camps might be located close to sound camps which can make it hard to sleep
- Will also expect you to come early/stay back after the burn to set up and pack down camp (not always a negative as giving back is what Burning Man is all about!)
- Can be expensive for camp due’s
- Get to pick where you want to camp in the designated zone (provided you get in early)
- No commitments to shifts (great for first time burners so you can enjoy your burn)
- No camp due’s so you save some extra cash
- No infrastructure you have to bring everything yourself
- No ability to schedule an RV pump or fill- you have to flag them down yourself which could leave you waiting around all day
- You may not be able to camp with your friends unless you drive in together and secure a spot together
Lucky for you, Josh and I have been to Burning Man four times, so we have prepared the perfect packing list! This list is what we bring for camping in an RV so you will require slightly different things if you are going in a tent! You can read our in depth packing guide and download the below guide in PDF- The Ultimate Burning Man Packing Guide
You are packing to survive in the desert for 8 days, you don’t have the luxury of ducking down to the local shops if you forgot some medicine so pack knowing this!
Food should be simple and easy to prepare. You want to pack like you are going camping. We recommend a healthy smoothie for breakfast with berries, bananas, plant milk, flax seeds & hemp protein. For lunches, we pack wraps with a range of different fillings such as avocados, jackfruit, lettuce, tomato, mayo & pickles. For dinner, easy prep meals like soups, cous cous, pasta & burritos. Nutritious snacks are a must- stock up on muesli bars, coconut yoghurt, nuts, seeds & dried fruit. Don’t forget your electrolytes too! The Nevada desert is harsh and will leave you thirsty and dehydrated if you don’t drink enough water. So stock up on coconut water & powdered electrolytes to help quench your thirst.
Welcome to ultimate freedom! At Burning Man, anything you want to wear goes. Walk around naked, rock that hand-made hat or goggles and embrace your inner you! Burning Man encourages radical self expression, so make some costumes and get creative! Also don’t forget lots of good LED lights to light you and your bike up at night. This is essential for safety and it looks damn good! Another note, don’t even think about wearing those glittery shoes or feathery top, there is a Leave No Trace principal so you don’t want to wear anything that sheds or could fall off onto the Playa. Some suggestions for playa wear:
- Comfy cool clothes for those hot dusty days
- A warm coat for those freezing nights
- Get creative- make something to wear on playa! Lights are essential at night for safety so have some fun lighting yourself up
- Don’t forget your goggles & dust mask to protect yourself from the harsh dust
- Hats are great for providing shade on sunny days
- Gloves for riding at night when it’s super cold
- Closed in comfy boots so you don’t get playa foot (not common but best way to protect your feet from the dust!)
By RV: Burning Man is located in the Nevada desert about an hour from the small town of Gerlach and about three hours from the biggest town of Reno. Reno is generally the last stop for supplies before you drive into the burn and can often be low on stock of many things so keep this in mind if you plan on buying all your stuff here! The gates generally open at midnight on the Saturday night but this has not been confirmed for this year yet. If the gates open at midnight, we generally try and plan to arrive right at the opening time so we can minimise waiting in the queue. Download your maps to your google app offline for the area as coverage will drop out as you get closer to Black Rock city.
Burner Express: If you’re camping in a tent this is by far the best way to get into Burning Man! The bus gets express in and out, so no waiting in the queue which can be hours long. Tickets can be purchased here.
The best way to get around playa is of course the trusty bike! You can buy yourself a standard bike and get around playa just find but try to practice riding a few kilometres in the lead up to the event so your legs are ready!
Alternatively, you can invest in an electric bike! Josh and I did our first two burns with regular bikes, and we managed and had a great time, but boy were we exhausted each day. We decided to invest in electric bikes for our third burn and it changed our life! We could see so much more and had so much more energy, it really made our last two burns so much better! So if you can afford to fork out some dollars, we highly recommend the investment. Either way, don’t forget a nice cushion for your bike seat!
Gifting is a great way to get creative or make people feel amazing. Our first burn, I thought of gifts as only stuff- don’t get me wrong, these gifts are great too (hello awesome array of Burning Man swag over the years!) BUT, the most memorable gifts hands down, are experiences. People making your day, making you smile, just because. These are the moments we cherish and remember the most. What gift could you give someone, that would ultimately make them smile in that moment? The gift is yours to choose, but this is our suggestion! Some ideas to get your creative juices flowing:
- Organise a yoga class
- Put up a “free hugs” booth
- Ask someone what their greatest achievement is in life
- Gift lip balm or other useful things on playa
- Drop some essential oil on people’s scarves so they can use their scarf and smell lavender when they go into the porta potties
- See someone building something? Ask if you can help!
Our bonus tips!
- Download the app “Time to Burn” and update it in Reno before driving into the burn. The app has all the events at the burn and will even show you where you are on the map so you don’t get lost!
- De-clutter what you bring. So ditch boxes or any unnecessary packaging before the burn- what you take in you take out!
- Bring a spare set of RV/Car keys and hide them in a magnetic box under your ride. Nothing worse than losing your only keys on Playa!
- Organise your outfits together with accessories in marked bags so getting ready each day is a breeze! It keeps your outfits clean and saves you time!
If you need more info, check out Burning Man’s website!
Prepare to have the wildest, hardest and most mind blowing week of your life!
Did we miss anything? Let us know!