Burning Man Festival Opts for Virtual Event for 20204 min read

burning man sculpture house with legs in middle of desert in black rock city
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Another day, another live event gets canceled and replaced with a virtual event. This time, it’s Burning Man – the annual event where gatherers build and take down an ephemeral encampment called Black Rock City in the Nevada desert. This year, Burning Man 2020 will be recreated in what organizers call “The Multiverse.”

burning man sculpture two wire adults with children inside touching

Burning Man dates were initially set to run Aug. 30-Sept. 7 — the Burning Man Project blog wrote, “after much listening, discussion, and careful consideration, we have made the difficult decision not to build Black Rock City in 2020. Given the painful reality of COVID-19, one of the greatest global challenges of our lifetimes, we believe this is the right thing to do. Yes, we are heartbroken.” The organizers explained, “We look forward to welcoming you to Virtual Black Rock City 2020. We’re not sure how it’s going to come out; it will likely be messy and awkward with mistakes. It will also likely be engaging, connective and fun.”

Many events are deciding to go the virtual event route this year, and it’s a trend we think we’ll see much more of in the coming years.

Wondering what to expect during the Burning Man Livestream? Organizers described it as “a chance to explore new ways of connecting and convening online …, deepen our commitment to environmental sustainability, realign our partnership with the Bureau of Land Management, and create new and meaningful pathways for the community to connect and collaborate.”

There’s no information on whether you’ll have to buy Burning Man tickets for the virtual event, or if you’ll be able to attend for free, but we’ll update this post as more information is announced.

What is Burning Man?

burning man statue of octopus with fire coming out of each tentacle

If you’re unfamiliar with the festival, it’s a little hard to describe. It’s so much more than just a festival. It’s a temporary city. It’s a community.

Every year, people flock to the Nevada desert, and build Black Rock City. Yes, they build it and at the end of the week, they tear (or burn) it all down. There are no set plans and no entertainment booked. The attendees ARE the entertainment.

At Burning Man, you are valued for who you are…not what you have. You are expected to collaborate, be inclusive, creative, connective, and to clean up after yourself.

The 10 Core Principles of Burning Man:

  1. Radical Inclusion
  2. Gifting
  3. Decommodification
  4. Radical Self-reliance
  5. Radical Self-expression
  6. Communal Effort
  7. Civic Responsibility
  8. Leaving No Trace
  9. Participation
  10. Immediacy

So What Would a Burning Man Livestream Look Like?

virtual burning man tent with people standing around watching

Well, no one really knows yet.

Virtual Events are still fairly new, and very much the wild west of event planning right now.

Some virtual events are Zoom meetings where you can watch a screen of faces talking to each other, and some are full-blown concerts with stage lighting and professional equipment.

Event planners are really starting to experiment with live streams and virtual events, and they’re learning from watching others, and that’s perfect for a Livestream.

At its heart, Burning Man Festival is all about creativity. It’s all about creative people coming together and making something special. So getting those same creative minds together should help push livestreaming and virtual events into something incredibly special.

Will Burning Man Be Virtual Every Year?

burning man artwork of volcano made out of wood with people looking on

There’s no way to tell what the future of Burning Man holds, but I can’t image the annual pilgrimage to Black Rock City for the live festival will ever go away. However, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them do what a lot of event planners are starting to consider – a part live, part virtual event.

And that’s what’s so exciting about the future of virtual events. You can attend a festival like Burning Man, while also participating in a livestream for people at home who aren’t able to participate. It’s all really exciting.

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