NEVADA, USA —
The annual Burning Man festival that takes place each year in the northern Nevada desert has been canceled, organizers announced Friday. Just a day later health officials reported 2,700 COVID-19 cases in the state with 107 deaths; by Sunday those numbers had grown to over 2,800 positive coronavirus cases and 112 deaths.
Burning Man has been held in Black Rock City – a temporary city built in the Black Rock Desert, 100 miles outside of Reno – since 1986. The name is derived from a wooden effigy called “The Man” that is traditionally burned on the Saturday of the event. Burning Man is organized by nonprofit the Burning Man Project. The event’s website touts 10 principles of Burning Man including “radical inclusion,” “radical self-reliance,” and “radical self-expression.”
Burning Man officials said this year’s event, scheduled for Aug. 30 to Sept. 7, was canceled for community health and safety.
“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,” organizers wrote in part on the Burning Man Journal website.
Instead of making their yearly pilgrimage to the Nevada desert, Burning Man devotees will be able to experience the festival online with 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,” organizers wrote of the new plans for Burning Man 2020.
Burning Man’s cancellation follows many other festival postponements and cancellations. Coachella in Southern California was set to start its first weekend on Friday but has been rescheduled for October. Meanwhile, music festivals like SXSW and Glastonbury have canceled their 2020 plans completely.
To keep their organization running through next year’s event season, Burning Man organizers said there will be substantial layoffs, pay reductions, “and other belt-tightening measures” implemented.
For those that purchased a ticket to the festival, organizers said they are working to provide refunds. They also asked for anyone with “the means” to consider donating all or a portion of their ticket value to Burning Man Project. Tax-deductible donations can be made online here.
Along with the announcement, Burning Man Project CEO Marian Goodell shared the following message: