The festival is moving from the desert to digital.

By Cailey Rizzo
Updated June 01, 2020
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In an inventive response to the coronavirus pandemic, this year’s Burning Man festival will be virtual — and anyone can attend.

The theme of this year’s festival was set to be “multiverse” where Burners — the term for die-hard fans — would gather in the spirit of multiple and alternate realities. But due to COVID-19 precautions, organizers said they would “lean into” the theme in an unprecedented way online.

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"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,” their announcement read. “In 2020 we need human connection and immediacy more than ever. But public health and the well-being of our participants, staff, and neighbors in Nevada are our highest priorities."

Virtual Burners will be able to participate in events online, in a much more forgiving climate than the desert. Virtual Black Rock City — the desert in Nevada where Burning Man is held — will host yoga practices, group meditations, dancing events, art workshops and whatever else the community dreams up.

“I am not here to tell you we are canceling Burning Man,” the festival's CEO, Marian Goodell, said in a video announcement. “Burning Man is a culture, it’s a movement...Burning Man is not just Black Rock City. What we do is year-round.”

Attendees who have already purchased tickets for 2020 will be able to apply for a refund, but the festival is asking people to consider purchasing a ticket anyway in support of other missions, like a sustainable energy farm and their global volunteer program, “Burners Without Borders."

The festival is famous for building a zero-impact city in the desert. Over the course of Burning Man, Black Rock City is built from the ground by the attendees without leaving a trace. Each year, the festival ends with the burning of an effigy in the shape of a human and participants have 35 days to clean up any evidence.

This year’s festival will take place from Aug. 30 through Sept. 7.

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