For First Time in 30-Plus Years, There Will Be No Burning Man

Partygoers won't converge on Nevada's Black Rock Desert
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 11, 2020 6:30 AM CDT
Burning Man Fest Officially Smoked Due to Virus
In this Sept. 2, 2006, file photo, "The Man," a stick-figured symbol of the Burning Man art festival, is silhouetted against a morning sunrise in Nevada's Black Rock Desert.   (AP Photo/Ron Lewis, File)

Another major cultural event bites the dust due to the coronavirus, this time in Nevada's Black Rock Desert. USA Today reports that, for the first time ever in its nearly 35-year history, the nine-day Burning Man arts festival—where, since 1986, stars and other adventurers converge in over-the-top costumes to check out art installations, listen to music, and party—has been canceled. The fest was set to start Aug. 30 and run through Sept. 7, with 80,000 or so attendees expected. "After much listening, discussion, and careful consideration, we have made the difficult decision not to build Black Rock City in 2020," organizers from the nonprofit Burning Man Project said in a Friday statement. "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. We know you are too."

The Guardian notes that instead of the Nevada happening, there will now be a virtual Black Rock City, or "Multiverse," with 100,000 participants expected. The Burning Man website encourages those who are interested to organize their own art or cultural events or to create a digital theme camp. Mass tickets sales hadn't yet taken place for the on-site event—they'd been postponed as organizers determined whether or not to hold the fest—but some people had already purchased tickets through smaller sales; those funds will be reimbursed. However, the Burning Man Project is asking those who can afford to do so to donate the money they would've spent going to the fest to the nonprofit, noting that it's going to be "a tough year" for the group, complete with "substantial staff layoffs, pay reductions, and other belt-tightening measures" to stay viable for next year. (Read more Burning Man stories.)

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