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Burning Man aims to expand to 100,000 attendees

The Playa is up for some big changes

  • Valerie Lee
  • 11 December 2017

Burning Man currently hosts 65,000 participants (closer to 80,000 including vendors and volunteers) for the week long arts festival, but organizers are now looking to expand to up to 80,000 to 100,000 people in the coming years. The Nevada Bureau of Land Management is currently undergoing an annual review on how the event affects surrounding environments and communities, and organizers have proposed long-term expansion.

In addition to the expansion, organizers are also asking for increased space of 22 miles (about 500 acres) to be closed off for Burning Man to support the increased capacity, art pieces and more. With their proposal, they project that art pieces will increase to 400 compared to 330 in 2017, 2,000 themed art camps compared to 1,100 and 1,000 art cars/modified vehicles compared to 600.

In effort to get the wheels in motion for the proposed expansion, organizers have met with representatives of the three communities most prominently affected by Burning Man: Gerlach, Reno and Lovelock. The week-long event does have financial support on its side, as it brings in over $50 million to the state of Nevada each year.

However, locals have brought up concerns about traffic, water supply, law enforcement services and disruption of the peaceful, remote setting many locals appreciate about the desert area.

Each year, Burning Man receives criticism about its growing overexposure: the event has reached the point where tech tycoons are shipping fresh lobsters out to the desert. However, organizers have proposed the expansion as they prepare to plan out Burning Man operations for the upcoming decade with promising reports of minimal environmental change due to their strict "leave no trace" policy.

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