Burning Man

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The Burning Man
Black Rock City in 2005, NASA satellite image
Burning Man 2002 neon lights
Video of Burning Man from 2011

Burning Man (German "Brennender Mann") is an annual festival in the US state of Nevada in the Black Rock Desert . The salt flat was formed from the glacial Lake Lahontan and is located about 150 km north-northeast of Reno .

The festival lasts nine days and traditionally ends on the first Monday in September, US Labor Day . Its main event is the burning of an annually changing oversized statue - the Burning Man - on the sixth day of the festival.


Larry Harvey (1948–2018) was the founder of the festival. He held the festival for the first time in 1986 with 20 participants on Baker Beach, a beach on the grounds of the Presidio in San Francisco . It was then held annually with an increasing number of participants, until in 1990 burning the statue on the beach was banned. The Burning Man Festival then moved to the Black Rock Desert in Nevada because the increasing number of partiers meant that there was not enough space on the beach. The statue - "The Man" - stood for a time on a pedestal that was raised over the years. At Burning Man 2014 she was not on a podium and was all the higher.

The event is now visited by over 75,000 people annually. Since 2011, the demand has exceeded the supply of spaces in the temporary city.


The festival is not only a large art exhibition , but is also considered a place of intense self-expression and a big party. During the festival, a temporary city with a hospital and airport will be built in the desert, which will be completely dismantled afterwards. A team of volunteers ensures that no traces (especially rubbish) are left behind.

Only pedestrians, cyclists and art cars , which Burning Man refer to as “Mutant Vehicles”, are allowed to enter the festival . Burning Man is famous for its particularly imaginative and bizarre Art Cars. Running mutant vehicles are also particularly noteworthy, such as the eight-legged steel spider Mondospider from 2007, designed for the festival .


year Height of the man place Attendees motto Remarks
1986 02.4 m Baker Beach, San Francisco 00020th - Larry Harvey and Jerry James build a wooden man and burn him down for the summer solstice .
1987 06 m Baker Beach 00080 -
1988 10 m Baker Beach 00150-200 -
1989 12 m Baker Beach 00300+ - First mention of the event in the Cacophony Society newsletter .
1990 12 m Baker Beach / Black Rock Desert, Nevada 00500-900 - The figure will be assembled at Baker Beach for the summer solstice, but not burned down. The Labor Day Weekend will new event date in the Black Rock Desert .
1991 12 m Black Rock Desert 00250 - For the first time as a neon man
1992 12 m Black Rock Desert 00600 -
1993 12 m Black Rock Desert 01,000 -
1994 12 m Black Rock Desert 02,000 -
1995 12 m Black Rock Desert 04,000 Good and bad The settlement is first called Black Rock City .
1996 15 m Black Rock Desert 08,000 The inferno The theme is reminiscent of Dante's Inferno. The first year the man is erected on a straw bale pedestal.
1997 15 m Hualapai Playa 10,000 fertility Driving and carrying weapons is prohibited. Radial arrangement of streets for the first time
1998 15 m Black Rock Desert 15,000 Unclear unity First management structures, stable financing and cost recovery
1999 12 m Black Rock Desert 23,000 Wheel of Time Mentioned as a " Great Destination " in the American Automobile Association's RV guide .
2000 12 m Black Rock Desert 25,400 The body
2001 21 m Black Rock Desert 25,659 Seven ages of man William Shakespeare : As You Like It . 2nd act, 7th scene
2002 24 m Black Rock Desert 28,979 The Floating World First recognized as an airfield by the Federal Aviation Administration
2003 24 m Black Rock Desert 30,586 Beyond belief Dogs are banned
2004 24 m Black Rock Desert 35,664 The vastness of the sky
2005 22 m Black Rock Desert 35,567 psyche Participants can turn the man
2006 22 m Black Rock Desert 39,100 Hope and Fear: The Future
2007 20 m Black Rock Desert 47.097 The green man The man goes up in flames four days early. An arrest follows shortly after the arson. The statue will be rebuilt in time for Saturday.
2008 25 m Black Rock Desert 49,599 The American dream
2009 20 m Black Rock Desert 43,435 Evolution: A Tangled Bank
2010 32 m Black Rock Desert 51,454 Metropolis: The Life Of Cities Number of participants over 50,000 for the first time
2011 32 m Black Rock Desert 53,600 Rites of Passage The first festival took place 25 years ago (June 21, 1986). Since the pre-sale of admission tickets reaches the officially approved number of visitors four weeks before the opening, it will be stopped and the event will be described as sold out for the first time.
2012 27 m Black Rock Desert 56,149 Fertility 2.0 The tickets were awarded in the form of a raffle, whereby long-time experienced helpers as well as a large number of the artists who contributed to the program were not taken into account. For this, ticket dealers took part in the raffle, which raised up to four times the nominal price of $ 250. Shortly before the event, an oversupply of tickets at prices below the purchase price caused trouble.
2013 n / A Black Rock Desert 68,000 Cargo Cult There was no raffle, but a pre-registration to buy to make the black market more difficult.
2014 32 m Black Rock Desert 68,000 Caravansary The figure of Burning Man is standing directly on the ground for the first time since the 1990s. At 32 meters, it is several times larger than usual. Due to very heavy rainfall, the inlet has to be closed for about a day, as the underground cannot be driven on until it is dry.
2015 15 m Black Rock Desert 70,000 Carnival of the mirror
2016 13 m Black Rock Desert 70,000 DaVinci's workshop
2017 Black Rock Desert 70,000 Radical ritual
2018 Black Rock Desert 70,000 I, robot
2019 Black Rock Desert 78,600 Metamorphoses
2020 online (virtual) The multiverse The event was canceled due to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. Instead, it should take place online.


Reception in music

  • The first CD of the group Third Eye Blind contained the song Burning Man .
  • In 1999 Queensrÿche sang the song Burning Man on their album Q2K .
  • The album Remission by the group Mastodon contains the track Burning Man .
  • The album Flash by Fünf Sterne deluxe contains the track Inspector Jabidde. The scene of the criminal case is among other things the Burning Ham Festival, where a wooden ham is burned.

Reception in film and literature

  • In the television series Malcolm in the Middle , the family visits the festival in the first episode of the seventh season. The recordings were not shot at Burning Man, as only reporting and non-commercial material can be recorded there.
  • In the animated series American Dad , part of the fourth episode of the first season also takes place at the festival.
  • In the 13th episode of the 14th season of the cartoon series South Park , the demon Cthulhu runs amok at the festival.
  • In the 4th episode of the 12th season of the animated series The Simpsons , the leader of the environmental activists, "Lisa, the tree hugger", explains the personal disadvantages of occupying a tree that has been cleared for cutting: "Once you're up there, you can't come down. Not for a Phish concert, not even for Burning Man ". As "Blazing Guy" the festival is at the center of the 7th episode of the 26th season (German title 'Fackeln im Sandsturm'). Bart wants to embarrass his new, hated teacher there by providing the statue with fire retardant and thus preventing the teacher from setting it on fire.
  • The first doodle ever used by the Google search engine showed the company logo with the wooden figure of the "Man".
  • In the novel "Homeland" by Cory Doctorow , the protagonist visits the festival at the beginning of the novel.
  • In Dan Simmons ' novels Ilium and Olympos , set in a distant future, the Burning Man Festival has endured as a legend in the collective memory of mankind.
  • Armistead Maupin's nine-part city ​​history cycle ends in the last part, The Days of Anna Madrigal (2014; German: Die Tage der Anna Madrigal 2017) at a Burning Man festival.

Reception in the sciences

Ethnographic and cultural studies field research has dealt with how community and identity formation take place at the festival. So the question was asked to what extent Burning Man can be seen as an alternative to society outside the festival.

Regional events

Burning Man's great popularity has resulted in similar events developing around the world. Some of these events are officially linked to Burning Man through what is known as the "Regional Network". They are called regional events .

Since 2004 in Spain near Sariñena in the province of Huesca the Nowhere instead. It is Europe's largest "regional event". It is pronounced no | where (English nowhere), at the same time it is a play on words with now and here ("now here"). It is also called Euro Burn and had around 3500 participants in 2019. It is based on the 10 principles of Burning Man. However, there are slight changes. Open fires are completely forbidden because of the risk of fire, so there is no burning of a figure like in Nevada. The event is therefore also referred to as "NoBurn Burn" in the community. In addition to Nowhere, there are a number of other regional events in Europe, such as the Borderland in Scandinavia, the Swissburn in Switzerland or Where the Sheep Sleep in the Netherlands.

The world's largest regional events are the AfrikaBurn in South Africa and Midburn in Israel, each with around 11,000 participants.


  • Chen, Katherine 2004: The Burning Man Organization Grows Up: Blending Bureaucratic and Alternative Structures . Dissertation. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University.
  • Doherty, Brian 2004: This is Burning Man. The Rise of a New American Underground . Boston / New York: Little, Brown and Company.
  • Hockett, Jeremy 2004: Reckoning Ritual and Counterculture in the Burning Man Community: Communication, Ethnography, and the Self in Reflexive Modernism . Dissertation. Albuquerque, New Mexico: The University of New Mexico.
  • Kozinets, Robert V. 2002: Can Consumers Escape the Market? Emancipatory Illuminations from Burning Man . In: Journal of Consumer Research, 29, June 2002, pp. 20-38.
  • Kristen, Christine: Reconnecting art and life at Burning Man . In: Raw Vision, No. 57 (Winter 2006), pp. 28–35.
  • Pike, Sarah M. 2001: Desert Goddesses and Apocalyptic Art. Making Sacred Space at the Burning Man Festival . In: Mazur, Eric Michael / McCarthy, Kate (eds.): God in the Details. American Religion in Popular Culture. London / New York: Routledge, pp. 155-176.
  • Van Proyen, Mark / Gilmore, Lee (Eds.): AfterBurn: Reflections on Burning Man . New Mexico: University of New Mexico Press.
  • Carolyn L. White: The Archeology of Burning Man: The Rise and Fall of Black Rock City. University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque 2020, ISBN 978-0-8263-6133-2 .


  • The Girl From The Song , feature film, approx. 102 min., 2017, A young musician follows a carefree college student to the “Burning Man” festival in the Nevada desert to confess his love for her and to find himself. Most of the film action takes place at the festival and was recorded there during the 2015 edition. Film on IMDb
  • Dust & Illusions. 30 years of Burning Man history. Documentary, USA, 2009, 80 min., Script and director: Olivier Bonin, production: Madnomad Films, release date: March 28, 2009 (USA), film page .
  • Utopia in a desert storm. A trip to American dreamers. Documentary, Germany, 2009, 29 min., Written and directed: Udo Lielischkies and Audrey Stimson, production: WDR , series: WDR worldwide, first broadcast: October 20, 2009 on WDR, synopsis by ARD .

Web links

Commons : Burning Man Festival  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Founder of the festival "Burning Man" died orf.at, April 29, 2018, accessed on April 29, 2018.
  2. Burning Man Timeline . Burning Man. Retrieved September 9, 2019.
  3. Q-Tips in the Donnerkuppel Spiegel online 2001
  4. Burning Man Airport website . Burning Man. Retrieved September 9, 2019.
  5. ↑ Tidying up and removing traces after the event (English) . Burning Man. Retrieved September 9, 2019.
  6. site of Burning Man (English)
  7. ^ Nackte Feuerteufel Spiegel online 2003
  8. A visit to the planet art rp-online.de 2007
  9. Outside Magazine: Hot Mess - An oral history of Burning Man , August 2012
  10. Official cancellation of Burning Man 2020 . The Burning Man Project. Retrieved April 11, 2020.
  11. Google Doodle
  12. HTML version of the novel
  13. Wendy Clupper 2007: Burning Man: festival culture in the United States - festival in a global perspective . In: Festivalising! Theatrical Events, Politics and Culture. Amsterdam: Rodopi, pp. 221-241; François Gauthier, 2013: The Enchantmens of Consumer Capitalism. Beyond Belief at the Burning Man Festival . In: Religion in Consumer Society. Brands, Consumers and Markets. Farnham, pp. 143-158; Kozinets, Robert V. 2002: Can Consumers Escape the Market? Emancipatory Illuminations from Burning Man . In: Journal of Consumer Research, 29, June 2002, pp. 20-38; Carolyn L. White, 2013: The Burning Man Festival and the Archeology of Ephemeral and Temporary Gatherings . In: The Oxford Handbook of the Archeology of the Contemporary World. Oxford, Oxford University Press, pp. 595-609.
  14. ^ Regionals.burningman.com . Burning Man. Retrieved July 21, 2018.
  15. Calendar of regional events . Burning Man. Retrieved September 9, 2019.
  16. Ulrike Peichert: Europe's answer to the Burning Man: The Nowhere Festival spiegel.tv, 2015, video (42:00)
  17. https://www.afrikaburn.com/

Coordinates: 40 ° 45 ′ 17 "  N , 119 ° 14 ′ 11"  W.