Burning Man is canceled for 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic and instead plans to return in 2022, the organization announced Tuesday (April 27). The event would have been held the week before Labor Day in Black Rock City, Nevada.
“For 2021, we know the need for community has never been stronger, and building community is what Burners do best. We also recognize the pandemic is not over,” said Burning Man CEO Marian Goodell in a live video announcement Tuesday. “We’ve heard your feedback, and we’re really grateful for all of the work you have been doing to prepare for Black Rock City. So much, from so many.”
Goodell continued, “But we’ve made a difficult decision based on the best information available to us. We’ve decided to focus our energy on building Black Rock City 2022. It’s too important to do half-a–ed, so we’re doubling down on next year.”
With the announcement, Burning Man joins a number of festivals that have decided to completely postpone a 2021 event, in lieu of trying to hold it later in the year. Prior to the postponement, Burning Man had considered requiring vaccinations for all attendees. The fabled counterculture art festival typically draws roughly 80,000 people to the Black Rock Desert about 100 miles north of Reno.
In a blog post published immediately after the announcement, organizers noted that “although here in the United States we may be feeling the weight lifting and the light at the end of the tunnel brightening, we are still in the pandemic, and the uncertainties that need to be resolved are impossible to resolve in the time we have.”
Goodell reminded the crowd that Burning Man is much more than the event itself, and encouraged Burners around the world to focus on creating community, helping support one of the 59 Burning Man-funded art projects the organization is helping produce, support Burners Without Borders. Burn Week, when the event usually happens the week before Labor Day, will be marked with online events.
“Black Rock City is radically different from other events,” reads the Blog Post. “We’re building a city, not a stage. This is a community, which means money doesn’t build this; personal intention and dedication do. Our community is the event. We’ve heard from many who don’t feel ready to come to Black Rock City. While we’re confident in our ability to get a permit and to safeguard public health, we know that co-creating Black Rock City in 2021 would put tremendous strain on our community while we are still ironing out uncertainty.”
The blog post also notes that the land on which Burning Man takes place, which is controlled by the Bureau of Land Management, will remain open. “Some of you will choose to gather, co-create and celebrate Burning Man culture on the playa this year,” organizers write. “The Bureau of Land Management says at this time public lands will remain open to the public. Anyone choosing to camp on the playa this year will need to be entirely self-sufficient.”