The man burns on the first Saturday of September. Are you preparing for your first burn and partaking in creating the most unique and surreal temporary city that exists in the world today?
Since Black Rock City is located in the Black Rock Desert, it requires A LOT of preparation. That’s why I am here to make sure you get the most out of the Burning Man experience by telling you all the things you need to know before attending.
- How much does Burning Man really cost?
- What are some things you should know before attending Burning Man?
- You need to know how and where to get tickets.
- Where you sleep and what you eat.
As well as all the considerations that go into planning for Burning Man you need to know how you get there and much more!
So keep reading to find out more!
1. Dates for Burning Man
Burning Man is usually held from the last Sunday in August to the first Monday in September to coincide with the Labour Day in the USA. The man usually burns on the first Saturday of September. The theme for 2022 is “Waking Dreams”.
2. Getting Your Tickets For Burning Man
A few general things about purchasing tickets for Burning Man:
Before buying the tickets, you’ll need to create a Burner profile on Burningman.org and register. But, of course, you can do both of these things before ticket sales even open.
You are limited to two (2) tickets and one (1) vehicle pass. Once you have bought from one sale, you are no longer eligible to purchase tickets from any of the other sales.
Children under twelve (12) get in free, but you still have to get tickets for them off the website.
There are several opportunities to purchase Burning Man tickets, but it is still relatively difficult to get a hold of them.
The FOMO Sale
Registration usually opens in late January. The sale itself usually begins in early February. Tickets cost around $1500-$2500.
The Steward Sale
(Direct Group Sales)- Usually takes place in mid-March, and tickets cost around $475. These tickets are for people who are part of a camp. The camp lead invites you to join the sale.
Registration occurs in late March. The tickets cost around $575 each.
The last chance to get your Burning Man ticket. Registration for this sale opens toward the end of July, and the sale begins at the beginning of August. These tickets usually cost around $575.
Sometimes you can buy tickets from people who no longer want theirs. You can also volunteer to work at Burning Man to get into the festival.
Ticket Aid Program
You will need to qualify for this by having proof of low income. These cost around $225. The problem with this option is that sometimes they take so long to let you know if you qualify that all the other sales have passed by the time you get an answer. Also, if you get tickets at any other sale, you are no longer eligible for the low-income tickets.
A few tips
Do not refresh the page when queuing on the Burning Man website. This will put you at the back of the queue and basically ruin your chances of getting a ticket, as there are tens of thousands of people waiting in the wings.
If you manage to get onto the purchase page, buy the maximum number of tickets. These can always be sold back to Burning Man at cost later.
3. Decide if you’re joining a Theme Camp
If this is your first burn, you need to know that theme camps are a group of people who work together for food, amenities, and shade at Burning Man.
At the least, it’s a group of friends pooling resources, and at best, it’s like a luxury resort providing for all your needs. You pay extra to join a camp. The amount depends on how bougie the camp is. Burning Man has recently come under fire for allowing luxury theme camps created by Silicon Valley’s high society.
Great things about camps
Whether you’re a first-timer or not, joining a theme camp makes Burning Man a lot easier. You get shade, amenities, and food.
Depending on which one you choose, it could just be sharing cooking duties if it’s a more chilled one, or it could be three-course meals and everything you need provided. The great thing is that you don’t have to bring absolutely everything yourself- you can share with your camp.
The not so great things about theme camps
It costs more (although arguably, you could save on the things you no longer have to provide for yourself).
Preparation starts well before Burning Man, and you will most likely have to help set things up before the event.
Usually, a gift is expected from a theme camp. These are not usually monetary gifts. It is more providing an offering like an event or something useful (sunscreen, free coffee, novelty item) to contribute to the whole Burning Man experience for everyone else.
A themed camp is like your family, while you’ll eat, party, and work together at Burning Man.
4. Transport options: How do you get to Burning Man and back?
You can either drive or fly and then take a bus/rent a car.
Driving is the easiest option with regards to transporting all of your belongings, but it is the longest trip.
You can also fly to Reno or San Francisco (SFO) and then rent a taxi or catch the Burner Express Bus to the Playa (Black Rock City). The Burner Express will take you back to San Francisco Airport or Reno airport for your return flight.
The last option is to catch a flight directly to Black Rock City Airport on a small private flight. (Which only allows 25lbs of luggage).
When flying, the major problem is that it is impossible to bring the stuff you need with you on the plane. You could mail your stuff to Black Rock City, but that is not very practical.
Last-minute supplies can be purchased in Reno (which is the closest town), or if you need fuel, you can get it from a small village called Gerlach, which doesn’t offer much else.
5. Sleeping arrangements: Where will you sleep?
There are three primary options for sleep arrangements at Burning Man.
A very hot and dusty option which leaves you a bit uncomfortable after sleeping in playa dust for an entire week. If you do go for this option, it’s best to get one with no mesh, to help keep the dust outside. This option is the most budget-friendly.
These structures are actually designed to be disaster relief structures. They are well-insulated, much more dustproof than a tent, cooler due to a reflective coating on the outside, and hold their own during a dust storm.
The main downside to these is that they are expensive to buy for one-time usage (or once per year).
The most comfortable option. These will protect you from the elements and make your Burning Man experience a lot more comfortable.
Challenges associated with these are the black and grey water disposal. By the end, they also get some playa dust in them via the vents.
You will need to bring something to protect you from the sun when you are just chilling. Shade cloth is the most suitable option for this.
Do not bring a plastic tarp. The winds can reach speeds of 75 mph (60 knots ph) in the desert, and they will fly away.
Bring something that the wind can pass through. Also, bring very long pegs to keep your tent and shade structure attached to the ground. It could also be a nice touch to get an inflatable couch to relax on.
You’ll need to bring mainly non-perishable food, and a few fruits and veggies to boost morale when you are getting sick of tinned goods. Good examples of food to bring are:
When you’re on day three, and all you want is a warm meal, you can throw your veggies in a pot and make a veggie stew/curry.
Bear in mind that you will have to bring all that you need to cook with as well. Unfortunately, there are no stores within Burning Man to buy anything except ice and coffee.
Bring plenty of water for drinking and carry your water bottle with you everywhere you go. Dehydration and heatstroke can catch you by surprise out in the desert.
You’ll also need water for cooking, cleaning and bathing. About 1,5-2 gallons per day per person should be the right amount. Remember that none of your water can be poured out onto the soil when you are done at Burning Man. Any leftover water must be brought home with you in containers.
How much do you need to go to Burning Man?
The total cost of Burning Man (excluding your plane ticket) will be roughly $1300-$5000+ per person. This is a ball-park figure, and it could be lower if you save where you can or higher if you’re a splurger. Here’s the breakdown:
- Standard Tickets- $475
- Vehicle Pass- $140
- Theme Camp Fee- $120-$2000+
- Camper Van – $3000-$5000+ per week
- Shift Pod/Yurt – $800-$1300
- Tent- $40-$1000
- Car rental + Fuel- $400
- Car Wash- $100
- Outfits/ Costumes- $500 (These are a huge part of Burning Man, you won’t want to dress ordinarily)
- Food and drink- $120+ per person for a week.
- Gifts- Variable
Going to Burning Man alone can become quite expensive. We’d recommend getting a group of friends together and splitting the cost.
What you need to know before going to Burning Man
Some tips before you attend Burning Man:
You need to bring literally EVERYTHING you need to survive. From water to kitchen utensils to extra batteries for your LED lights.
Before attending, you must take a look at the ten (10) principles of Burning Man. These are not rules. Instead, they are a list of codes that developed organically when the event first started.
They are very important to everyone who attends. It’s basically what the original event creators were going for when they first started. So here they are, and you can find them explained on the Burning Man website.
- Radical inclusion
- Radical self-reliance
- Radical self-expression
- Communal effort
- Civic responsibility
- Leaving no trace
A big part of Burning Man is that the intent is to leave no trace of having been there at all. So you have to take everything home with you, including all the leftover grey and black water.
There is a list of things that you are not allowed to bring because they create MOOP (Matter Out Of Place)- litter. you can also find a list of these on the Burning Man website, but here are some examples:
It is hot during the day (it can reach over 100F/ 37.8C) and it is cold at night (it can drop to as low as 40F/ 4C). Pack appropriately.
Dust storms are a thing. Do not leave home without a mask and goggles. When a dust storm hits, sometimes you can’t see more than a foot (30cm) in front of you.
Don’t bring or do anything illegal- this should go without saying. Police officers will be there in regular clothes, and vehicles are often searched upon entry. No drugs, drinking and driving or anything else of that sort are allowed.
Some very adult events are sometimes offered by ‘burners’, but it will ultimately be up to you if you want to attend them.
Burning Man is a collection of people who go to the desert looking for the freedom to create, dance, have fun and participate in this culture of community and inclusivity.
It is an extreme experience that hasn’t been replicated to the same degree since its inception. For many, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
I hope this helped you find out all you need to know for your first Burning Man. Here’s an entire article that answers the question, is burning man a cult? If you are worried.