Thousands of people were left stranded in the waterlogged festival grounds of Burning Man after torrential rain over the weekend.
This year’s Burning Man festival — taking place in Black Rock City, Nevada, from August 27 to September 4 — has faced harsh torrential rain from Tropical Storm Hilary that turned the festival grounds in the Nevada desert into a muddy campsite.
The 9-day festival is usually frequented by tech bros and celebrities, and typically draws 70,000 “burners” — as festival-goers are known at the event.
Tickets this year were being sold secondhand at $250 — or $400 below the asking price — because of attendees’ fears about weather conditions, according to the San Francisco Standard.
Here are 11 photos and videos that show everything that went wrong at Burning Man 2023 so far.
Even before the downpour, festival goers faced protests from climate activists.
—michelle lh࿊࿊q (@MichelleLhooq) August 28, 2023
This year, Burning Man faced protests on the highway leading into the festival grounds at Black Rock City on August 28. Climate change activists formed a human blockade and held up traffic for hours as they urged the festival to ban single-use plastics and private jets.
The downpour turned the annual Burning Man festival site into a mud pit.
On Friday, festival organizers told attendees to shelter in place, and to “conserve your food, water, and fuel.” Organizers also told attendees to “look out for your neighbors” and “introduce yourself.”
“Is the hurricane coming,” one TikTok user asked as they sheltered from the rain.
“What Black Rock City looks like right now,” a TikTok user who posts under the user name @mariasoleeeeamore wrote on her video on Friday. The video shows flooded festival grounds and water pouring in through the roof of a structure.
Many festival goers were left stranded as organizers said the roads remained too wet to leave by vehicle.
As of Sunday morning, the festival organizers said roads remained too wet for the festival’s usual closing Exodus — the mass departure of festival goers — with only some vehicles capable of making the journey.
“But we are seeing most other types of vehicles that try to depart getting stuck in the wet mud which hampers everyone’s Exodus,” the organizers said.
Mobile cell service trailers and buses are being deployed for the thousands stranded at Burning Man, the festival’s organizers told Insider in a statement on Sunday.
The Pershing County Sheriff also released a statement on Sunday, saying it was investigating a death that occurred “during this rain event.”
Despite jokes referencing a potential Hunger Games-like situation, one user said she was busy doing life activities.
“We all slept all night with no house music bumping,” said TikTok user Angie Peacock in a video seen more than 2 million times since it was posted on Sunday. “It’s horrible. They shut the water down. I’m walking around helping to pull power cables out of the ground.”
“We were joking that there’s gonna be all these rumors that 70,000 people are stranded in the desert and they’re out of food and it turned into the Hunger Games and they’re all having this huge orgy because they’re bored,” she joked, “No, we’re just doing minimum life activities.”
Peacock told Insider’s Lloyd Lee on Sunday that she and others in her camp were rationing food, as porta-potties on site filled up with waste.
Not everyone enjoyed their journey out of Burning Man 2023, with law professor Neal Katyal calling it an “incredibly harrowing” hike.
—Neal Katyal (@neal_katyal) September 3, 2023
“No one should try this unless in good shape and part of a group,” said Katyal, who was also an Obama-era solicitor general, about his journey out of Burning Man in an X post on Sunday.
“There are treacherous places where it is worse than walking on ice,” he said.