Burning Man is one of the best known arts festivals in the world, and is a huge celebration of everything that makes us human. The established organizational team have made the week-long festival a part of the Burning Man Project, which is a non-profit organization who put the money into creating the community and spirit of the event. It allows for the vast space to be used for everything it needs in order to stick with its principles and ideals.
At the end of August/beginning of September, an area of the Black Rock Desert in Nevada gains a temporary city. This city is home to almost 70,000 people who come from all walks of life to celebrate Burning Man. The city is meticulously planned, in a C shape, and has everything you could want in such a place. There is a central hub for meeting and experiencing some of the city’s institutions, there are many different neighborhoods with subcultures as their center. Some of last year’s themed camps included ones based on gin and tonic, cats, New York pizza and going into the complete unknown. Other city areas include workshops usually based on the year’s overall theme, art installations, music stages and even an airport. This year’s theme is titled Radical Ritual, and will involve the burning of the man inside a temple structure that will have been used through the week for various ceremonies and as a sanctuary for community members.
Burning Man is more than an average festival, it is an institution - more like a religious holiday or a family reunion. It’s an opportunity for those who are willing to dedicate themselves totally to a different lifestyle for the week, whatever that lifestyle might be. There is a ton of history and backstory to the way the festival is run, but the short of it is that Burning Man has established its own principles as an experimental community of art and culture. These principles are integral to the whole experience, and all members of the community are encouraged to implement them. They include respecting and welcoming all other members of the community, giving gifts rather than asking for money for goods and wares, radical self-expression - going away from your normal lifestyle and trying new ways of living that make you feel great, and making sure that the desert is left in as good a state as it was before the festival began by getting involved in looking after yourself and your environment. As well as the community - which will have a large variety of activities and events put on by its members - there are numerous art installations that will range from simple to surreal, and many musical and theatrical performances.
There is also the mutant vehicles event, in which community members can submit their modified vehicles. This doesn’t mean merely decorating a van, mind you. The organizers have dictated that the less people can recognize the base vehicle, the more likely that the vehicle will qualify for the project. Even then, there have been over 600 vehicles at Burning Man in previous years. Of course, the main event over the week-long festival is the actual burning of the so called man. The wooden structure is built and stands in the centre of the C shaped city, serving as a focal point. It is traditionally burned on the Saturday night of the festival, and represents the culmination of the art and celebrations that have taken place throughout the week. Burning Man tickets are available for the full week only.
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