Burning Man costs most people a minimum of $800 for just a ticket and a parking spot. All the other expenses can easily push the total cost into the thousands.
- Burning Man may be “decommodified” but it’s still pretty expensive to attend.
- The 9-day festival cost most Burners at least $800 this year, just for a ticket and a vehicle pass.
- Transportation, food, and other survival-related supplies can easily push the cost into the thousands.
Burning Man only sells ice on site, but don’t let that fool you: Burners still shell out a small fortune to be there.
The typically nine-day event in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert, roughly 120 miles north of Reno, draws tens of thousands of attendees each year, and sets them all back at least $630 for a ticket including its taxes and fee — with total costs easily ballooning into the thousands.
The survival supplies aren’t anything to scoff at either. This year, a storm put a damper on the festivities, turning much of the famous playa into mud and resulting in stranded attendees.
Here’s a closer look at the expenses you’re on the hook for as a Burner.
Tickets alone aren’t cheap
Most tickets sold directly from Burning Man cost $575 each this year, according to the event’s website. (There are 5,000 tickets available at a discounted $225 for people with financial hardships, and “FOMO” tickets priced at $1,500 and $2,750 for Burners who want to secure their spots two months before the main sale opens.) Vehicle passes, which are required for every vehicle driving into Black Rock City, cost $150 each; for Burners who qualified for discounted rates due to financial hardships, vehicle passes are $75 each.
All tickets are subject to the 9% Nevada Live Entertainment Tax; on the $575 tickets, this tax comes out $51.75 each. Both tickets and vehicle passes are subject to a $4 fee each. There’s also a 3.4% credit card processing fee on purchase subtotals.
All told, this means Burners are shelling out at least $800 between tickets, vehicle passes, fees, and taxes if they’re attending solo. Lots of people carpool, however, which means you can share the cost of the vehicle pass, but the ticket and its taxes and fees alone will set you back around $630.
Transportation and lodging can easily cost thousands
Don’t forget you have to actually get to the playa. And you also have to figure out where you’re going to sleep for 9 days.
Burners coming from other parts of the country will likely have to cover airfare or the cost of other transportation to Reno, and then take additional transportation from the Reno airport to Black Rock City. Some attendees of the festival, which is popular with influencers and the wealthy tech elite, even fly in on private jets, which were the subject of protests at this year’s Burning Man.
Once you’ve arrived, there’s also the matter of food, water, and lodging. One Burning Man veteran recommends budgeting $10 a day for food, water, and supplies when cooked in a communal kitchen for a group, which would come out to another $90. In keeping with the festival’s emphasis on “radical self-reliance,” Burners should also be budgeting for supplies like shade structures, sleeping gear, and toiletries. A list of recommended survival supplies on Burning Man’s website could easily add up to $100 or more.
As for lodging, many people pitch tents, rent RVs, or even stay in yurts.
RV rentals can easily set you back thousands of dollars: Multiple RV rental websites estimate even a basic rental will cost anywhere between $5,500 and $7,000, and if you’re staying with other attendees, the biggest RVs start at around $10,000.
One website advertising yurts for Burning Man lists structures ranging in price from $3,000 to $11,500. Many attendees often camp together, sometimes paying a hefty price to do so: One luxury camp infamously charged up to $100,000 for accommodations, private chef included, before Burning Man shut it down.
Smaller, optional expenses can add up
Black Rock City, the temporary city constructed once a year, is enormous and can take a while to traverse by foot — so many people opt to bring or rent a bicycle to get around, as driving is prohibited on the playa except when arriving or departing the festival. Burning Man’s approved bike shops offer rentals from $80 to $125 and up for the duration of the festival.
Then, there’s also the freewheeling fashion of Burning Man. Another one of the festival’s central tenets is self-expression, and attendees are known to sport flamboyant outfits and costumes, with people dressing up in steampunk or sci-fi outfits. It’s entirely optional and you can always cobble together something unique from what you already own, but if you’re starting from scratch or want a more elaborate costume, it’s yet another expense to consider.
It’s not mandatory, but since gift-giving is one of Burning Man’s 10 core principles, it’s common for attendees to also factor into their budgeting equations gifts to bring and share with one another.
Add it all up, and Burning Man can easily set you back at least $1,000 to $2,000 unless you’ve gotten really creative and figured out a way to pinch pennies and carpool — and even then you’re looking at the high hundreds of dollars.
Let’s just hope next year’s Burners get more for their money than a giant mud pit.