The normally dry desert lakebed that's the site of Burning Man, an annual festival dedicated to art, counterculture and self-expression, was hit with up to an inch of rainfall in just 24 hours over the weekend, flooding campsites and turning the desert site into an expanse of muck. The gathering—launched on a San Francisco beach in 1986—attracts nearly 75,000 artists, musicians and activists for a mix of wilderness camping and avant-garde performances.
Vehicles are seen departing the Burning Man festival after the roads opened, kicking off the exit called the "Exodus" in Black Rock City, Nevada, U.S., September 4, 2023. Disruptions are part of the event's recent history: dust storms forced organisers to temporarily close entrances to the festival in 2018, and the event was twice cancelled altogether during the pandemic.
A couple walks through the mud at Burning Man after a night of dancing with friends in Black Rock City, in the Nevada desert, after a rainstorm turned the site into mud on September 2, 2023. According to a news report, many said the unexpected rain had brought out the gritty, self-reliant roots of a festival that has sometimes been criticised for gentrifying into a destination party for tech moguls and social media influencers.
Attendees dance at the Burning Man in the early morning of September 5, 2023. The event traditionally culminates with the climactic burning of the eponymous, large wooden effigy shaped like a man, which was postponed twice because of the weather.
A file photo of a couple with their son at the Burning Man festival. The festival started in 1986 when founders Larry Harvey and Jerry James burned a human-shaped sculpture in San Francisco's Baker Beach as a small crowd gathered to watch. Today, thousands gather in the Desert each summer for about nine days to create a temporary city, making a communal living amidst eccentric displays of art and expression.
A file photo of a 'burner'—as the participants are called—spinning inside a metal hoop on a roller disco floor in 2017. That year, 70,000 people from around the world gathered for the fest. Despite the earnest ideals, the festival encampment occasionally has problems, including drug use, arrests and sexual assaults, according to reports.
A file photo of a 'burner' dancing in an inventive mask. Burning Man is all about self-expression, the rejection of commodification, and creating social environments unmediated by commercial sponsorships, transactions or advertising.
Fest attendees play on a Xylovan, built by Mack Reed, which allows people to play on large xylophone panels attached to its exterior. According to the organisers' note, Burning Man aims to cause a transformative change, which can occur only through deeply personal participation.
The sculpture" Paper Arch" by Michael Garlington and Natalia Bertotti is seen during a preview of the "No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man" exhibition at the Renwick Gallery in Washington, DC, on March 29, 2018. The show brought artwork from the Nevada desert gathering to Washington for the first time.