Burning Man 2022 Just Ended, And Here Are 45 Photos Proving It’s The Wildest Festival Ever
It was a long-awaited return to the playa — and all its eccentricities. After a two-year pause due to the coronavirus pandemic, Burning Man, one of the most impressive weeklong festival-like experiences, is back in full force. And it's as wild and colorful as ever. Tens of thousands of Burners gathered to build a temporary metropolis and celebrate community, art, music, self-expression, and — of course — fire.
Running from August 28th through September 5th in Nevada’s remote Black Rock Desert, few large-scale events are as compelling and overwhelming as this spectacle. Even with thick coatings of swirling alkaline dust and soaring temperatures, it has now evolved into a magnificent scenery of the craziest costumes, quirky art cars, and experimental living in some of the most hostile conditions on the planet.
We at Bored Panda scoured the web to bring you a sizzling hot list of the most memorable moments from this year's event. So continue scrolling and get ready for a glorious ride down to the desert, upvote the pics as you go, and be sure to share your favorites with your friends. Once you're done admiring this vivid collection, check out our previous pieces about Burning Man "cities" from 2019, 2018, and 2017.
Originally founded at Baker Beach in San Francisco by Larry Harvey and Jerry James, Burning Man started as a casual gathering of friends in 1986 and moved to the desert in 1991. This was a transitional moment for the event as it became a destination for artists, performers, and free spirits interested in an autonomous social experiment in a temporary community. In the following years, it evolved into a global cultural movement celebrating art, wild costumes, installations, spontaneous musical performances, and — yes — plenty of partying.
The last official Burning Man took place in 2019 and attracted about 80,000 people. But in 2021, an unofficial version of the event was staged with about 20,000 taking part. Many within the community felt the event was irresponsible because it could have violated some of the 10 Principles of Burning Man, particularly civic responsibility and leaving no trace. But by plotting this event, they certainly managed to keep the vision alive.
This year, the gathering is back in full swing. Under the theme of Waking Dreams, Burning Man aimed to explore the "transformative power of dreams, both literal and figurative, and celebrate the dreamers who channel this potent energy in eye-opening, often surrealistic, sometimes life-changing ways".
The temporary metropolis, Black Rock City, was the perfect spot for participants to start imagining the future again. "Whether it’s a dream of artistic expression, a yearning to connect with others in a fractured society, or simply a desire to live a more meaningful and authentic life, Burning Man is the place where dreams can and do come true."
The veterans often say that to truly understand it, you simply have to go. Many find it difficult to accurately describe the choose-your-own-adventure atmosphere, where massive interactive installations, Mutant Vehicles, and elaborate camps fill the seven square miles of the playa. But to celebrate the return of Burning Man’s glory, we spoke with Maly, an artist and a Burner who participated in this year’s gathering.
Maly told Bored Panda that the atmosphere this year resembled the previous ones. "Everyone was authentic from the first meeting. People seemed more aware of others’ personal space and preference for contact with strangers. Usually, in past years, you’d be greeted with arms open for a huge hug. This time people would make the motion for a hug but then verbally confirm, 'are you huggable? Is this okay?' before proceeding."
Many of the camps (hers included) missed a lot of events, Maly added. "I think it was a combination of caring less in general, but also the horrible weather all week was pretty demoralizing." The artist is talking about the sizzling heatwave and the dust storm that nearly derailed Burning Man’s namesake event — igniting the giant wooden "man" effigy.
San Francisco Chronicle reported that winds gusting up to 35 mph hit the playa early Saturday afternoon after a cold front passed through the basin. Of course, this weather is not unusual for the desert as it is prone to extreme conditions during this time of the year. But the official Burning Man Project account announced that the Black Rock City gates were closed in both directions "due to whiteout conditions."
"Do not drive," the tweet stated. "Vehicles are becoming stranded and lost on the playa. Delay your departure until the weather has cleared."
Maly told us she and fellow Burners regularly experienced temperatures over 100F with no shade but what they brought themselves. Plus, "the wind and whiteouts did so much damage to tents and tarps," they didn’t have much choice but to ride it out and wait to fix everything after the storm passed. "The roads through the city were also way bumpier than previous years, so moving through the neighborhoods shook your teeth out."
Apart from the weather, the gathering was as exceptional as always. "The artwork was huge and impressive, people definitely had time to work on their projects over lockdown and the scale of some of the stuff was astonishing," Maly said.
When asked about other guests, Maly noted they definitely missed participating in the gathering. "There were a lot of big reunions and dusty tears as friends were reunited for the first time in two years," she said. "I know I got a little misty when we finally pulled onto the playa after two days on the road. There were plenty of people here who did the Renegade event over the last two years, so they kept the spirit alive."
Many reasons attract people to this festival-like experience, and Maly mentioned they usually depend on the individual attendee: "Burners have 10 Principles, and everyone has their favorites."
"I really enjoy the Radical Self Expression, being able to wear insane things I otherwise couldn’t in the default world, and I am always so proud of my camp for their Radical Self Reliance. We manage to build a whole little home out in the most inhospitable place and live fairly comfortably for a week," she added.
Undoubtedly, the artwork and musical performances definitely draw the crowds, as they "are second to none". Guests were treated to dozens of installations and creative projects, but Maly said "it’s like spending a week living in a museum/concert venue that both loves you and wants you dead."
Another reason this event draws thousands of people is that it provides a unique sense of community. "I’ve found the purest genuine human connection out here talking with other Burners, from finding actual Mongolians in an authentic ger (yurt), to joking with the Aussie Ranger who was working perimeter during the 'Man' burn."
As you’re scrolling through the vivid photos in this list, you may become convinced Burning Man is a glorious, fantastic, one-of-a-kind experience. But as Maly told us, it’s also hot, dusty, and extremely hard. "It takes a year to get your [things] in order, and we still had a really difficult time surviving this last week," she concluded.