Burning Man Festival, the annual art, music and everything-else event, currently taking place in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada, is the most popular ever than more people already on-site than attended the entire event last year.
The largest outdoor arts festival in North America is in its 27th year, with as many as 68,000 people expected to part-take in partying, debauchery and excess before it all ends for another year on Labor Day.
Described as an “experimental community”, Burning Man Festival incorporates plenty of partying plus lighting massive fire displays, donning eye-catching costumes and performing passionate dances at sunrise. Organizers stress it’s mostly up to participants to decide what Burning Man is.
Earlier this year the federal government issued a permit for 68,000 people from all over the world to gather at the sold out festival and spend up to a week in the remote desert cut off from much of the outside world.
This year’s Burning Man Festival is already the largest ever, organizers said more than 55,000 people had already arrived at Black Rock City at noon on Tuesday. That is almost as many as were present at last year’s event during its peak.
Traditionally only the hard-core burners arrived when the gates opened Monday and a crush of people often referred to as “Weekend Warriors” would show up sometime between Thursday and Saturday, reports NBC Bay Area.
By morning on Wednesday, there were 15 streets circling the temporary city created by attendees and the forecast remains free of dust storms.
Many have been impressed by the size and look of this year’s Man Base, a structure that houses the iconic “Man” figure burned each year near the event’s close.
Inside a flying saucer under the Man is a multi-level structure with zoetropes, a giant chandelier and views of Black Rock City. Slides serve as exits.
The art theme this year is “Cult Cargo” and focuses on a strange being called John Frum.
“He is known to us by many names, this Visitor from Elsewhere, dispenser of endless abundance and wielder of mysterious technologies: John Frum, Quetzalcoatl, Osiris, <<Bob>>,” reads the website.
“His cargo is splendid, his generosity boundless, his motives beyond our understanding. But across the ages and around the world, the stories all agree: one day he will return, bearing great gifts.
“Our theme this year asks three related questions; who is John Frum, where is he really from, and where, on spaceship Earth, are we all going?”
The biggest tradition comes at the end of the week – on September 2 – when participants will set fire to a giant wooden “man” that gives the event its name. Tickets for the event costs up to $650.
It has become a haven for hippies, artists, musicians and dancers and provides a week for people to explore artistic expression. No money is exchanged at the event; instead the festival-goers swap gifts to attain goods.
The Black Rock Desert is 120 miles north of Reno and the gathering is the largest permitted event on federal land in the US.
After it moved from San Francisco’s Baker Beach, the inaugural Burning Man in Nevada drew some 80 people in 1990. The first 1,000-plus crowd was in 1993, and attendance doubled each of the next three years before reaching 23,000 in 1999.
The crowd was capped at 50,000 under a five-year permit that expired in 2010. The new multi-year permit allows a maximum crowd of 70,000, but organizers applied for a cap of 68,000 this year.
As always, festival goers are expected to obey the ten principles: Radical Inclusion, Gifting, Decommodification, Radical Self-reliance, Radical Self-expression, Communal Effort, Civic Responsibility, Leaving No Trace, Participation and Immediacy are of the utmost importance to the community.