Burning Man Festival

Burning Man FestivalThe Burning Man Festival has grown from a small group of people gathering spontaneously to a community of over 48,000 people. There are no rules about how one must behave or express oneself at this event rather, it is up to each participant to decide how they will contribute and what they will give to this community.

The event takes place on an ancient lake-bed in the desert of Nevada, known as the playa. By the time the event is completed and the volunteers leave, sometimes nearly a month after the event has ended, there will be no trace of the city that was, for a short time, the most populous town in the entire county.

Art is an unavoidable part of this experience, and in fact, is such a part of the experience that Larry Harvey, founder of the Burning Man project, gives a theme to each year, to encourage a common bond to help tie each individual’s contribution together in a meaningful way.

Participants are encouraged to find a way to help make the theme come alive, whether it is through a large-scale art installation, a theme camp, gifts brought to be given to other individuals, costumes, or any other medium that one comes up with.

This documentary about the Burning Man gives some great insights into the whole project and expresses in beautiful pictures how it is to be part of the Burningman-Project.

Watch the full documentary now

Ratings: 5.18/10 from 11 users.

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40 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Mrs Clause

    Not the best. I'm all for freedom from the corp but this seemed like a bunch of supposed artists pretending to be free. Plus the cheesy video effects are a wee bit dated.

  2. Jack M.

    Haha... all these people complaining about corporate america... paying $2000 to feel good for a few days... what hypocrites.

    if you want to express yourself... how about doing it right now... in your seat... it's free, and you don't have to travel into the desert.

    going out into the desert and getting wasted doesn't change anything.. living your values in the real world does.

  3. J B

    You might not like the doc, but maybe you should experience it for yourself and then have an opinion. "Going out into the desert and getting wasted doesn’t change anything.. living your values in the real world does.", hmmm Jocko, very enlightening. And this "real world" you speak of, where is this? Is it in America? The land of the free? Buy buy buy and the world is your oyster! Try moving out of the country for a bit and maybe you'll see that most everything is a lie and you are a sheep.

    For all actual open minded people, if you like art and truly free expressionism, then you should really experience it for yourself, but go the entire week, not just the last weekend of the "burn" and do it with a group of people. Sure people get wasted, but you will never see art installations like this anywhere else in the world. Plus another great thing about it is that the money can only be used for are coffee and ice, everything else is based on the barter system. You could easily walk around your entire time there and people would feed you, give you drinks, join in their camps and all because giving without receiving is what it's about, more so than Christmas, which in this day and age is a joke and has lost it's true meaning for most people.

    All in all, Burning Man is not something you can properly describe or depict to people who have never been. It's impossible and the only way to truly understand it, is go for yourself.

  4. Jack M.

    I live in a city, nowhere near the USA.
    I don't have to spend thousands of dollars and take a trip to the desert to see that the concept of this entire project is bogus, just like I don't have to go see a movie to tell that it sucks. The advertisement is enough.
    By all means, keep throwing that kind of money away if it makes you feel better.

  5. Brad

    JB - wow you are the poser to end all posers. You are judgmental, immature and so far behind you actually think you're ahead. This mindset has been around for hundreds of years. Don't be afraid to pick up a book sometime. It won't hurt you I promise.

  6. J B

    A little fuel to the fire never hurt is what I say. Thanks for that Brad, I'm a changed man now, you've shown me the proverbial light. Going to purchase my first book ever today. Excited is an understatement! May whatever pagan God you worship bless you a hundred fold!

    Love it! People are so easily agitated. Relax.

  7. Kerry

    The idea of Burning Man is what should be the discussion point - not the type of people, quality of film or festival, or where it is and how much it costs.
    Money is the downfall of modern society and that is shown by the ignorance and focus on the price in the above comments.
    There is no escaping the system but there are people willing to make a stand and share ideas and knowledge that there are other ways.
    Sure, they may seem like 'hippys' or other labels put on them by the unenlightened. Pagans? Now at least that religion was all for nature and enlightenment - unlike the Christian nation which scares the crap out of me in this modern age (how long will we waste on stupid religions? as long as money needs to be made? Because a religous war is the easiest to create).
    If this festival could be 'free' then it surely would be. If it could be held somewhere as free and beautiful that was more convieniant for those not wishing to pay for transport then I am sure it would be.
    Look at the IDEA... A world without money... it can only be a good thing - then people may have faith in each other instead of 'needing' a 'God'..
    I cant wait to go and learn at Burning Man, even though it means going to America...
    On the brightside - at least some of the idiots leaving comments have found a good website - they can only become enlightened ;)

  8. Ashta

    Never been to Burning Man? Said to yourself "Maybe I'll make it out there one year to see what it's all about." Don't bother. You wouldn't like it. The growth year after year will inevitably only bring in closed-minded idiots and closed-minded idiotic conversation that I'm witnessing here. That festival has done more for my life than any onlooker can ever imagine. Beyond opinions, beyond a documentary, beyond your stupid theories, and beyond the internet itself. I would be happy if BM didn't grow one more inch. I've witnessed the demise of something great that is brought on by growth: the loss of Burning Man's purpose. Ask any veteran Burner.

    So, I say;
    Save your time, money, and breath. Don't go to Burning Man. It doesn't want you.

  9. Jack M.

    you make comments about how ignorant and sheeplike people are, but what, exactly, are you doing about it?
    You go to a festival for a few days so you can feel like you're above it.
    then you come right back into the sheep world you hate so much.
    You don't want to change things. You want the benefits of being a sheep and the benefits of feeling like you aren't.
    you're worse.

  10. Ashta

    Dear Jack M.,

    I agree when you suggested to "live your values in the real world." But, to say those who have experienced Burning Man do NOT, exposes your inaccuracy and small mind.

    Every day my family and I exercise lessons learned from BM, as well as lessons learned from everything in our lives that shape our identities.
    Your inaccuracy doesn't end with that assumption.
    Money isn't involved in Burning Man. That's what makes it such a unique exercise in economics. You pay a small fee for on-call emergency services out in the desert with the purchase of your ticket, but any further cost is completely discretionary. Many people spend lots of their own money to fund art projects or theme camps for the benefit of OTHERS.

    I think to target and attack something that has only positive themes is plain counter-active. With that said, I do enjoy a good debate, so thanks for that.

  11. Jack M.


    if that's true, then please forgive me. My comments aren't aimed at you.
    My ire is directed at people who think they can buy a revolution.

  12. K

    I have never been to burning man, but i have only heard good things about it from my friends. I would love to go!!!

    im sure these people work hard for their money. if they want to "throw it away" to feel better, than by all means let them! But im certain that they don't feel as though they are throwing it away.
    it is very nice to get wasted on lsd or ecstasy and dance all night! its an escape from this "real world".
    and if you think that "going out into the desert and getting wasted doesn’t change anything.. living your values in the real world does."
    show me where you can find that many people "living their values in the real world" that give a shit enough to try to change anything. those people are the close minded sheep.

    "A world without money… it can only be a good thing – then people may have faith in each other instead of ‘needing’ a ‘God’.."
    best comment so far!
    money has lost its true value anyway. the saying "money dont grow on trees" is now "money is made from trees"

    another festival that seems to be catching on is the Full Moon Gatherings in Asheville, North Carolina. the festival is not as long as BM but has the same ideas. the best part about the FMG is alcohol is prohibited!

  13. jay

    I Went to this fest...had a great time...smiled most of the time.

  14. J

    I went to BM in 2006. At the time I was living way up in northern Ontario, Canada. Recently introduced into the psychedelic culture and electronic music. All of this seems obvious, however, upon living the experience, I noticed that no matter how much one tries to define an experience, it will forever remain subjective. I thought that the music was an electronic cliche, I thought too many people there relied on a mind altering experience through drugs. Out of the 50 odd thousand people there, I may have met 3 legitimate movement pioneers, the rest were just escaping, like myself. No matter how much one wants to believe that they are contributing to a "better" society, the fact is, if you do it only once a year, it's like working out once a year, it does nothing for yourself, nor the world around you.

    I don't do heavy drugs anymore, and I don't go to clubs and party. Though the desert is calling me, more than anything, I feel the geography was the change I needed, and seeing people high as shit running about reminded me of all the city folk hoped up on coffee doing the same thing, pointing fingers in each others chest claiming that the other "just doesn't get it". To that end, everyone with an opinion that isn't directly followed by action are just ant's from a different colony, whether it be hippies or conservatives, we all got it wrong, and we're all too self involved to notice that.

  15. nick_kcin

    jack M - I'm sure most of the people there don't think they're 'buying a revolution', it seems more about experiencing a world where people are sharing and giving instead of always doing something for personal gain, and what do you expect them to do when they go back to their lives in the city, quit their jobs and never buy anything again? if you dont work as part of the system you die, quite literally, even a homeless man has to buy food sometimes, we are completely trapped in the system

  16. Liza

    Pretty irrelevant but, so are all the religious debates that are CONSTANTLY posted on almost every single documentary on this site... There's an episode of Malcolm in the Middle that's particularly funny, when the whole family unknowingly travels to burning man, hah. It's totally worth a watch.

  17. Andrine

    Most of the guys I know go to Burning Man because they know they'll be able to get laid very easily, and by many, many, many different women—this is primarily why they go. Getting high/wasted out of their minds for several day runs a close second.

    The stories I've been told about all the irresponsible "free love," have completely turned me off. I'm not sure the women realize that the sex is what it's all about for a lot of guys who attend.

    I don't know, but my vagina is pretty sacred to me—I wouldn't feel liberated by letting everyone have a piece of it, even if they were peace-lovin', open-minded, soulful, faux hippie dudes.

    Respect yourselves, for crying out loud.

  18. Psychointegrator

    Michael Mithoefer, Rick Doblin, Ann/Sasha Shulgin, Amanda Feilding, Leah Martin, and many more lectured at the 2006 BM. The topics they covered deal with some of the most vital and fascinating realms that deal with for brevity, address the alleviation of human suffering and then towards reaching foundations of well being and critical thinking. They and the huge tent of audience members alone are easy retort to so much ignorance and bias seen posted in here.

    None of the males I've known from BM have that mentality. Obviously they are there and in possibly decent number, yet, I apparently migrated towards chat with the other side of the spectrum from your view.

    I actually went alone and found carpool thingy on the forum for BM. Another factor for me was having a significant other at the time, however, even without there wasn't any draw abuse various psychoactives (use, abuse and carelessness being very different) or seek out easy lays.

    I wandered into a medium tent called the Lucky 777 or something along those lines. Had a sit down and a chap who was a part of the group started a conversation with me for in theory friendly reasons. He invited me to join his friends later for the burning fest later that night. I showed up, met them all, all nice and cheery and no wasted or overly high grins to note.
    Being my first time, I didn't realize you need a bike... They lent me a bike and simply requested I return it the next day. We wandered miles around and many stops at various sights and activities.
    These half a dozen people were nothing akin to your stories.

    There was a whole lot worthwhile art and experience to be taken in, especially if it's dust.

    P.S. I returned the bike the next night and they were surprised that I did. It seems that it's not uncommon people are flakey and lazy with such things.

  19. Andy K

    $2000 and don't forget the air fair if your'e going from another country. A few of my friends have gone from the U.K. and go about it all the time, now I have seen the doc I wont be going anytime soon. Anyway the U.K. is the festival capitol of the world and has been since before Burning Man started. You have to hit the festivals when they first start out before the corperations get involved like they will always do in the end. The Big Chill and Glastonbury to name but a couple. Change your mindset and dont go to places that make you feel like you have changed you mind set costing you a small fortune to do it.

  20. Andy K

    Oh and if you do go dont leave a tonne of mess for someone else to pick up....remember leave no trace!!!!

  21. Randy

    I have been to a Burning Man Festival, (required as a Wiccan priest in my order, whatever... let that go...)

    Bunch of muddy hippies. Some good music, but mostly really bad theology!

    I had to leave the faith after that last one. Just a bunch of dirty apes...

    Awful, really... SCIENCE!!! Put your clothes back on, you silly youngsters!

    I want to eat your tender fleshes...

  22. Jem

    does anyone have an idea of the name of the first song played in the doc?? love it but cant seem to find it...
    it starts like "we don't no, we don't no confrontation no more, we don't no, we don't no dragons tears on the floor, we don't no confrontation no more, we don't no confrontation no more...."
    thx for your help!

  23. B

    wow - SAVE your money - It's VERY important to revisit and focus on the part about how this is an ELITE EVENT - YOU HAVE TO PAY LARGE SUMS OF MONEY - which lines the pockets of the event masters and excludes the folks back in town already living "with nothing' in the streets.

    EVERY single person I've known that frequents this festival seems to be rather ungrounded and zombie-like.

  24. sunny

    The doc touches on the question of why aren't there more 'colour people' at BM several times. As a person of colour who comes from a third world country this thing looks like it might be fun and artistic but not realistic. If you ever come from a place so poor where the currency is worth nothing and you have to barter to survive then you will know how crappy it is to barter. All these people who grew up in nice homes, eat as much as they need,drive/fly to this dessert and spit on the very economic advances that allowed them the luxury of having this festival seem phoney.

    When you know the true nature, and the great suffering of living in a sustenance economy then its obvious that the people in this documentary know nothing about what they claim to be recreating. Thats why I as a 'coloured person' would not go to Burning Man. Call it artistic and end it right there, but please don't feed me hypocritical b.s. about something you know nothing of.

  25. Chris

    So I've been to burning man. It was a great start, but it's much more of a place for upper-middle class white people to party. Thats not what it started as and not what the core of the burning man community is about. And most of the people that are into just "hooking up with chicks" are not there because of burning man, they went for a party. Sure there are lost of drugs there, but there are lots of drugs everywhere. The real "burners" tend to use them responsibly to enhance the experience, the way drugs should be used. Most of the bad stuff talked about that people do or had happen to them has nothing to do with the burners, it's all the rich yuppies and their children that show up looking for a crazy party. They don't even know what the purpose of burning man is or the principles that guide it, as do most of you who have posted here. If all you know about burning man is what is shown in this doc then your criticisms are valid, however it is not the complete picture. Also, the event coordinators are not lining their pockets. They might make a decent living but the tickets to the event are only $275 for a whole week. You can't take a 8 hour seminar to listen to some "expert" speak about anything at a Hyatt for that price. And the cost of the infrastructure to support 50000 people for a week is a lot. Not to mention the cost of all the permits required to use the land. the $2000 price tag includes all of the stuff you might bring and renting a truck and gas and etc none of that goes to the organizers.
    I no longer go to the big burn, but am becoming more and more active in the local burning man scene. There is less money involved, everyone is a volunteer, and people work together. The Goal is to take all 10 guiding principles to apply them to our daily lives. So the idea is to do something all the time and for free and change the world, at least around you, as much as you can.

  26. zeze

    ever heard of BOOM Festival? is mutch bether than burning man, people come from all around the world.

  27. Anna

    I want to see the instalations and to meet some strangers...that's it...isn't it enough...For me it is.....

  28. redteddy

    The festival tickets are now $360 or thereabouts. Everyone must have a ticket so if you are five people in a vehicle and one of them doesn't have their ticket no one will be admitted to the event (after all you can't just dump the guy at the curb). its obvious from the documentary that many participants do not live up to the festival ideal; there was a dog running around and dogs are banned, there was a lot of litter left behind. Radical self-reliance for one week will cost you more than $2000, just look at the suggested list or mandatory items you would need for a week. The use of toilets is a big thing and if you really have to go fast you'll end up pissing in the desert wind. They check your vehicle when entering kind of like TSA at the airport but without the pat down. There are rules. Rules about vehicles, rules about bikes, where to camp, drug use, where you can have sex etc. Law enforcement agencies work the event so its not as if you are 'outside society' at all so remember you can be busted for having drug paraphernalia. The dream of chaos or living without rules is just that, a dream. It would be impossible for the event managers to keep anarchy alive once the festival grew. What you have now is a festival where there are limits to ones behaviour which is fair enough. If you want the burning man experience and have not yet been then your years too late. Better off going and starting your own scene or joining a new one that has just flowered.

  29. Luke

    Ive been a trance party fanatic for some time.

    I run a psytrance record label and have never been to burning man. I didnt enjoy this doco much!!

    I think it did have a slightly cheesy element to it and while Im all for free love...........it always comes at somebodys expense.

    personally I think ill stick to parties that are about the music rather than 10 guiding principles. While the principles seem wholesome and good willed i dont think i could apply them to my life and thus feel my attendence would not be in the right spirit.

    Im sure full time burners wont miss me, but its pretty assured ill be having a good time elsewhere.

    still tho...........looks like a good event. Wont count out going in the future. my only wish is that it wasnt in the USA.

  30. Peter Affolter

    I got to go to the Burning Man Festival and consider myself extremely lucky. I had several epiphanies. The shrine monument was particularly moving for exorcising regrets. It was the largest crowd I've been in and didn't feel threatened. In fact, most, if not all the participants were helpful and accomidating. Radical self suffeciency and radical self expression seemed to be the credo. It was extremely liberating to see so much creativity amongst everyone. You don't have to do drugs or have indiscriminate sex to have a good time. I highly recommend going at least once. If I never go again, it was enough to change my life for the better. 40,000 people "looking in the same direction." WOW

  31. stacy

    greatest party on earth! I have been 4 times going again this year. cost for tkt $160 not $2000 Jack M seems like a moron, ignorant at best

  32. Veronica Hayes

    i thought it was $360?

  33. Gen Alexander

    Who's the Artist on the ending of this Doc???

  34. Ostrich Deathdance

    I don't feel like this documentary is relevant or represents the event that takes place now. I have returned to Burning Man the last five years and its kinda different than the way it seems portrayed here. If you ARE curious about this festival don't let this bizarro documentary be the end of your research. There are some other docs out there that show other sides of this event. For the record, the nightmarish soundtrack at about 21:00 minutes through left a bad taste in my mouth...though the dust didn't. ;)

  35. pseudonamed

    I've been to BM several times, this is a pretty bad doc about it. I really don't feel it was well made, the video and sound were bad and random, it missed so many things. Don't base your opinion on this. There are much better ones, I thought Burning Man Beyond Black Rock was better made, and it shows you all the work that goes into making the festival happen, it's history, etc.
    People like to call out BM as being hypocritical, the fact is it takes place within the US and therefore can only happen if it obeys the rules of the land, therefore it can't be an actual Utopia, and is not meant to be one. It is a little taster from which you can take what you want from it to apply to your life the rest of the time, and bring to it what you want - it is made by its own participants so is only as good as what it's participants make of it. If you bring nothing good to the event you will take nothing good.

  36. knowledgeizpower

    Interesting event and interesting comments as well lol....I have not been to one of these events yet have heard about it though..will watch this now that i have come across it....

  37. Guest

    For Canadians, Shambhala is closer, cheaper and more liberal but it doesn't compare in art. Tickets are on sale, less than 2000 left for online sale.
    No booze!(hum! at least officially)

  38. knowledgeizpower

    After watching in a way i see why this has alot of negative reviews about the film....it was really scattered brained as far as how it was presented...it seems like a very open ideas event but this just talks about some of the things that goes on and making seem like a nudist camp and how people can't afford tickets....i was like okay it didn't positively portray the festival and i'm sure i would think and hope it is better in my opinion....anyhow i'll find something else....Holla

  39. Mike

    Burning Man is a party. Always has been and always will be. Sex, drugs and music are obviously part of the lives of 40,000 people but that's the case everywhere on earth. I don't get the negative that people are associating with that reality. I don't do ANY drugs but love the desert and the whole scene.Great Art is probably the best part part of the whole event however. I personally love the Art Cars and hope to construct one for exhibition one year. The nonsense about ideology and guiding principles is nothing more than poster quotes but that's ok. It's a great party and everyone should go at least once. Don't delude yourself that it means anything more than it does though. We aren't changing the world here. If you have a great time in the desert it may very well change your life and that's great. If you come back with nothing more than dust in your shoes then that's ok too. Let everyone take from it what they want, give to it what they want and leave the judgemental bullshit about "not getting it" at home. There is nothing to "get". It's just a party, same as every other festival on the planet, Canada, U.S. or Europe. Most are cloaked in some existential bullshit that was dreamed up while high one night but really doesn't amount to anything in reality. That is entirely cool though. Just go, be happy and enjoy. Ciao

  40. marya

    what is the song at the start - who singes it, the we don't want no more competition no more, no more drunken tears on the floor.. i would love to have this full song .. anyone knows??

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