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Burning Man finale to proceed after weather chaos

Revellers were left stranded after rainstorms turned the festival site in Nevada’s Black Rock desert into a mud bath

By James Hanley on 04 Sep 2023

Virtual event to replace cancelled Burning Man 2020

image © Bureau of Land Management

The grand finale of Burning Man will go ahead tonight (4 September) after twice being postponed due to the weather chaos that has blighted this year’s event.

The traditional burning of the giant wooden effigy had been scheduled for Saturday and then Sunday evening, but was delayed due to rainstorms that turned the festival site in Nevada’s Black Rock desert into a mud bath. Many other events were also cancelled.

Tens of thousands of attendees were left stranded as a result of the conditions, with some choosing to hike 8km to the nearest road, while the portable toilet facilities were temporarily out of use.

The BBC reports the rainstorm that hit the Black Rock Desert near the end of last week is thought to have been the longest, heaviest rainfall since the festival began more than 30 years ago. The weather has since improved to the extent that vehicles are able to leave the site and organisers have said they would provide buses to take people to the nearby city of Reno.

The Pershing County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the death of a man aged around 40 at the event

According the the New York Times, traffic backups of more than 12 hours have been typical for motorists departing the festival in years gone by.

Previously, traffic at Burning Man 2023’s opening day was brought to a standstill by anti-capitalist climate activists after five protesters from the Seven Circles Alliance used a trailer to block the road.

Meanwhile, the Pershing County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the death of a man aged around 40 at the 27 August to 4 September event, but have confirmed it was not related to the adverse weather.

The US countercultural gathering was founded in 1986 and has grown from a three-day, 80-person ‘zone trip’ to an nine-day event attended by around 80,000 people, including Silicon Valley CEOs and other business leaders.

Weather conditions have also marred Europe’s festival season, impacting events such as Wacken Open Air (Germany), MetalDays (Slovenia), Pitchfork (US), Bluedot (UK)Primavera (Spain), Dutch festivals Awakenings, Bospop and Wildeburg, Alexandra Palace’s Kaleidoscope Festival and Robbie Williams’ concert in Austria.

 


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