If you want to stop something burning, douse it with water. That’s what the Black Rock City Nevada desert weather Gods tried during this year’s Burning Man festival.
The weeklong celebration of music, arts, and community, held on a dried-up lake bed was rudely interrupted on Friday by up to an inch of rainfall – three times the region’s average monthly precipitation – leaving over 70,000 people stranded in an impassable bowl of water and mud. Reportedly, one person died during the festival, although authorities claim the weather was not a factor.
@dailymail Burning Man Festival descends into chaos as one person DIES at flooded festival after officials closed gates, 'trapping' 73,000 revelers in hypothermic conditions - and told them to conserve water and food. #fyp #burningman #nevada #festival #flooding ♬ original sound - Daily Mail
Festival officials quickly postponed events, and issued a shelter-in-place directive, warning that any vehicles attempting to exit the festival would get stuck. “We have found that ONLY 4WD vehicles with all-terrain tires are currently able to move. Anything less than that will get stuck,” they wrote on the Burning Man website.
Despite the damp ground, the rain didn’t dampen the spirits of roughly 70,000 people who stayed for the festival’s final ceremony.
@__tiktokdetective__ The final burn at Burning Man 2023. The remaining people who waited in out in the muck gathered around to watch the man burn. #burningman2023 ♬ Drum Circle - Wasichu
“The rain provided an amazing opportunity to walk, to move more slowly, to connect with people who you may not have,” one attendee, Donovan McGrath said. “There were many silver linings.”
Eventually, festival goers – who paid on average between $1,000 and $10,000 for the experience according to SFGATE – were allowed to leave on Monday. The result was a desert traffic jam for the ages. Celebrities like Diplo and Chris Rock allegedly walked five miles through the sloppy mud to hitch a ride out of the mud bowl.
just walked 5 miles in the mud out of burning man with chris rock and a fan picked us up pic.twitter.com/0uxSXLHgY6— diplo (@diplo) September 2, 2023
Looks like Burning Man finally dried up and they’re now going home in what looks like the most ridiculous traffic jam ever pic.twitter.com/jkWp6FW3e5— Wu Tang is for the Children (@WUTangKids) September 5, 2023
Burning Man 2023.— (@MilaRoyaleReal) September 5, 2023
Credit @ car content pic.twitter.com/wT0RpBTi5w
From conspiracy theorists alleging government weather tampering, to religious extremists claiming divine intervention against a “pagan” festival, this year’s Burning Man festival will forever be remembered as the one that was almost washed away.
@__tiktokdetective__ Burning Man Update for Sunday September 3rd. Its supposed to rain again today. Some people seem to be making the best of it while others are trying to leave eventhough they have told them to stay in place. Burners gonna have to figure it out #burningman2023 ♬ Quirky Suspenseful Indie-Comedy(1115050) - Kenji Ueda
I got to say. The drone videos from Burning Man this year are entertaining. pic.twitter.com/gIHhFSRn2l— Phathed (@phathead_oz) September 5, 2023
Can anyone out there give me one good reason why some people would be harassing and trying to stop other people from escaping this "lockdown" at burning man? pic.twitter.com/U2DcSOG56S— 尺乇卂ㄥ (@realDDDougherty) September 4, 2023
@cocojohnson7 The playa did NOT provide #burningman #fyp #bye ♬ original sound - Coco Johnson @turftosurf They said the gates were closed @Burning Man but people went for it anyway… Which made some left-behind Burners a little…eh…jumpy #burningman2023 #burningman #blackrockcity ♬ Let's Go (feat. Twista & Lil' Jon) - Trick Daddy @davidhadden Hiking 10 miles outta Burning Man… @Diplo #burningman ♬ original sound - DAVID HADDEN @allynaston Did you hear that the burning man 2023 festival is now a national emergency as thousands and thousands of people are being told to shelter in place due to unprecedented rain? #burningman #burningman2023 #fyrefestival #festival #nationalemergency #emergency #rain #mud #desert #musicfestival #popculture #popculturenews #greenscreen #greenscreenvideo ♬ Way down We Go - KALEO