The Guardian Guide to Burning Man

Our guide leads you to the best art and parties on the playa -- and helps you prepare for the journey of a lifetime

Blissdance by Marco Cochrane, a beloved piece from Burning Man 2010, now dances on Treasure Island

It's a Burning Man world

Burning Man dominates August in the Bay Area. It's everywhere, almost impossible to escape, even if you try. That's a never-ending source of irritation to those who don't go, particularly for those who are the rare holdouts in social circles filled with burners, where playa preparation, anticipation, and exaltation can unexpectedly snake their ways into any conversation.

So, on behalf of my Burning mates, please allow me to sympathize, even if I'm unwilling to apologize. We just can't help ourselves. There's just so much to do right now, so little time to do it, and so many little reminders that the playa is out there, waiting for us to come build it into the city of our own creation.

It's important to plan your attack, and there is no shortage of resources to consult, from the official Burning Man Survival Guide that gets mailed to ticket holders to the sample packing lists that many people post online, and they're all worth consulting. So our contribution is meant to supplement what's out there and offer some useful tips and resources from the perspective of the Bay Area, the launching pad for more burners than any other single place on earth.

From fashion tips to food advice, from getting in to getting off, from this year's coolest projects and events to a profile of the people who will lead this culture for years to come, we hope you find this guide a valuable addition to your playa preparations. Now get busy, because time is tick, tick, ticking away. (Steven T. Jones, a.k.a Scribe)


From art and parties to shopping and eating: a festival of tips and resources to get the most out of Burning Man


In setting up its new nonprofit, the Black Rock City LLC board is looking beyond the event


Burner designers move beyond disposable fashion


A link to our continuing blog coverage of the festival


the only way to win the game is not to play.

BM has exploited the counter-culture sentiment too long. now with the scalpers biting on it's neck and controlling ticket prices - it's finally, undeniably - mainstream.

gone are the days larry will be able to convince his free labor force that they're working for something 'important'. the mainstream is not a movement.

when the average cost of ticket sales rises to $800-$1000 - there is NOTHING counter cultural about this hipster tailgate party in the desert - NOTHING.

just like the last coachella, BM 2012 will sell out in 1 week - maybe sooner. you'll have about 20% of the population who were lucky to buy their tickets from the source - but the rest will be those willing to violate the decommodification principal.

Q: when you have many people who don't really care about the principals - what do you have?

A: coachella in the desert! i'd rather go to coachella - at least they don't lie about what they're about.

Posted by pentt on Aug. 03, 2011 @ 5:00 am

Dear Pentt:
Please dont go. Your are exactly the kind of hater we dont need there. You will fit in much better at Coachella.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 03, 2011 @ 10:56 pm

Sounds like you suit shambala, cochella, sound wave and other "party monster festivals"

Posted by Guest on Aug. 05, 2011 @ 9:34 am

It seems more like a jail in the desert.

Posted by Chromefields on Aug. 03, 2011 @ 11:21 am

Every year it's the same old thing - oh, let's do Burning Man!

This is the Bay Guardian, FFS - can't they learn when something has jumped the shark so badly that reporting on it actually hurts the paper?

I used to love the Guardian - but this kind of continual Sht presented as 'cool' just does my head in.

San Francisco used to be a place that invented cool once in a while. SFBG should be reporting on the 'death of cool' - but they're too blind to see they're already in the coffin.

Posted by trex on Aug. 03, 2011 @ 2:09 pm

Geez. yet another hater....

Posted by Guest ZAC on Aug. 03, 2011 @ 10:57 pm

Looking forward to a hater-free week.

Posted by Greg on Aug. 03, 2011 @ 11:15 pm

Glad you'll be staying at home this time :)

Posted by Guest on Aug. 06, 2011 @ 2:17 pm

Ok scribe, great article in general, but please tell people to bring bike locks, I have meet many many people totally bummed out for the week, because their bike got "borrowed"
everyones bike is going to be decorated with tons of crap on it. so if you think you will be able to catch the person that borrowed your bike in a city of 50,000 bikes, you are delusional.
for the gods sake, bring a bike lock and always leave your bike locked, even in your home camp!!!

Posted by Guest on Aug. 08, 2011 @ 12:47 pm

Burning Man was cool the first time in '96... the second two times it was still all right. But now Im into doing and seeing new things. Instead of Burning Man Im heading to Cairo for 3 weeks to check out the post-revolution middle-east. The opportunity to see the antiquities of Egypt devoid of tourists is just too good to pass up. Last year it was a 300 mile backpacking trip in Turkey. Before that ... anyways you get it: lots of other stuff to see in this world than a BM on the playa.

Posted by Bigfrog on Aug. 13, 2011 @ 3:58 pm

I wonder if Nicholas Cage is invited?

Posted by Moloch on Aug. 29, 2011 @ 8:35 pm

Just to punish him for that horrid remake.

Posted by meatlock on Aug. 29, 2011 @ 8:47 pm

I wonder if Nicholas Cage is invited?

Posted by Moloch on Aug. 29, 2011 @ 8:38 pm

This is a knock-off of the Zozobra event in New Mexico that has been going on for FAR longer; 1712 to be exact. Anyway- have fun and be safe.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 01, 2011 @ 10:19 am

The "Burning Man" is a direct descendant of the "Wicker Man". You could call him junior! Nothing that was created by anti-consumerism advocates.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 05, 2011 @ 1:46 pm