No, I’m not talking about that late-70s cult classic starring Cheech and Chong. In fact, the upcoming Burning Man festival in northern Nevada’s Black Rock Desert makes that once-outrageous comedy look positively quaint by comparison.
The annual spectacle, which runs from August 31st to September 7th this year, takes its name from the 80-foot wooden “man” organizers set ablaze on the festival’s final night. But while that giant bonfire provides a focal point for this gathering of nearly 50,000 free spirits 100 miles north of Reno, it’s only a small part of the story.
At its core, Burning Man is a week-long experiment in utopian ideals like freedom of expression, mutual cooperation, and non-commercialism that you might have thought died out decades ago. In other words, this colorful temporary city built on a dry lakebed is about as far from your everyday life as it’s possible to get.
From a practical perspective, Burning Man’s wide-open spirit means the whole place is one big blank canvas where the line between art and artist tends to get blurry and even casual first-timers are encouraged to participate in the glorious freak show. Sort of like Mardi Gras on acid, only with occasional dust storms.
Now for the disclaimer: Burning Man is so unlike any other event you’ve ever attended you’d do well to read through all the info on the event’s website, starting with the comprehensive First Timer’s Guide. Then head out to the desert for a truly extraordinary experience that’s sure to leave you, ahem, fired up for months to come.