Alas, one of the biggest titans within the summer event circuit has finally succumbed to the lasting effects of COVID-19. Burning Man announced this afternoon that their flagship event in Black Rock City, originally slated for August 30-September 7, will not happen.

The Burning Man Project’s blog announcement reads:

After much listening, discussion, and careful consideration, we have made the difficult decision not to build Black Rock City in 2020. Given the painful reality of COVID-19, one of the greatest global challenges of our lifetimes, we believe this is the right thing to do. Yes, we are heartbroken. We know you are too. In 2020 we need human connection and Immediacy more than ever. But public health and the well-being of our participants, staff, and neighbors in Nevada are our highest priorities.

The Project’s CEO, Marian Goodell, shared a personal message regarding the event’s cancellation as well.

A Virtual Event Instead

As an alternative to the originally-planned event in the desert, there will be a “virtual” playa fitting to this year’s theme, the Multiverse. The Project explains:

In this Multiverse, Black Rock City will be online, and everyone will be welcome to join in. On a virtual playa, there’s no limit to who can participate. Like That Thing in The Desert, we will have costs and will need to create some kind of “ticket.” We’re working out those details and will share them as soon as we can. It won’t be like the BRC we’ve built over the years; we know there’s no substitute for an in-person experience. It will be a new kind of Burn. We want to co-create BRC online with 100,000 participants to share our passions, explore fun new ways to live more sustainably, connect in these challenging times, and take care of one another. 

We’re incredibly sad to learn that we will not be able to return to our home in the dust this year—but ultimately, this decision was the safest, most ethical, and logical one that Burning Man could make. This event takes months, and even years for some, of planning for art car builders, theme camp organizers, artists, creators, participants and beyond. With the current state of the world, this is the best for everyone.

We look forward to what Burning Man 2021 will bring.