This year’s party on the playa in the Nevada desert is going to be bigger than ever! The Feds have just guaranteed that fact. Yep, federal land managers have issued organizers of the largest outdoor arts and performance festival in North America a 4 year special recreation permit that allows a peak population this year of 68,000 for the temporary city of kindred spirits situated in the Black Rock Desert of northern Nevada from August 26th – September 2nd.
Last year, Burning Man peaked at a population of 56,000, which was below its population max of 60,900. Festival organizer Megan Miller hailed the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s issuance of the permit and stated they are establishing the first shuttle bus service to the event in addition to making other improvements to Black Rock City’s infrastructure to prepare for the influx of larger crowds.
Burning Man adopts a “leave no trace policy” for the duration of its formation. Attendees pride themselves in keeping the desert as clean as when they initially moved in. This means: no empty bottles on the ground, no stray pieces of plastic, no cig butts…no litter. Once the event is over, everything is burned and the playa is left exactly as it was before the influx of people took to Black Rock City…hence the festivals name “Burning Man”. However despite this policy, the event has attracted some detractors, claiming that it destroys the environment of the desert and places the US’s only suitable land speed record track at risk. But one must counter that supposition with the question: if it was so detrimental to the natural environment, why is the US B.L.M. approving its expansion in upcoming years? Clearly attendees have made a respectable presence in the past, so personally I feel that argument should be nullified instantaneously.
After moving from San Francisco’s Baker Beach, the inaugural Nevada Burning Man drew around 80 attendees in 1990, then reaching 1,000 in 1993 and going on to double in size the next 3 years before reaching 23,000 in 1999. Crowds were capped at 50,000 until 2010, and under the new multi-year permit the maximum crowd size will be allowed to grow to 70,000.
“We have always been confident in our ability to grow the event safely and sustainably and have been asking the BLM for this increase for several years,” Miller said by email. “We have always had a safe and engaging event and look forward to another great event on the playa this year.”
This event (along with Tomorrowland, clearly) is absolutely near the top my personal bucket list…how about you? Grab your tickets here.