Nevada's Burning Man festival celebrates 25th year

Tue Aug 30, 2011 9:18am EDT
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By Zelie Pollon

SANTA FE, New Mexico (Reuters) - Starting on Monday tens of thousands of people will descend on a great expanse of Nevada desert to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Burning Man, a gathering of free spirits, artists, entrepreneurs -- and anyone else who managed to get a ticket.

Several thousand more would-be participants will have to wait until next year, as 2011 marks another historic milestone: the first time the event has ever sold out, said Burning Man communications manager Andie Grace.

According to an agreement with the Bureau of Land Management, the event is permitted an average of only 50,000 people per day, Grace said.

The theme of this year's festival, "Rites of Passage," is an appropriate one as it also previews a change in the structure of the California-based Black Rock City, L.L.C., which runs the event, from a for-profit organization to a not-for-profit that will continue to promote the festival's ideology throughout the year.

"It's a logical extension of what happens here, and of taking our principles into our own communities," said Grace, referring to 10 principles including civic responsibility, communal effort, and being noncommercial and based on giving.

Through the group's not-for-profit outreach, Burning Man will become "a state of being that exists all the time," Grace said.

That state of being has beckoned its devotees, mostly through word of mouth (organizers do no self-promotion or advertising), into the Black Rock Desert in increasing numbers for more than two decades.

They travel like pilgrims from faraway lands ready to confront the possibility of dust storms, extreme temperatures, and drenching rainstorms in order to live for one week in a self-made and participatory community that bases itself on acceptance, self-reliance, self-expression and creativity.   Continued...

<p>"Abraxas," a 60 foot long, 30 foot high dragon built atop a bus and created for the Burning Man Festival in Nevada, is seen at sunset after the "Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear" in Washington, October 30, 2010. REUTERS/Jim Bourg</p>