Burning Man tickets sold out? Here's what to do
A series of powerful dust storms blew through Burning Man on Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2017 in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada. Trevor Hughes/USA TODAY
Editor's note: This article was originally published in 2015, but we've freshened it up so that if you didn't get a ticket this year -- in 2018 -- we have some other choices you can think about.
If you did not get a Burning Man ticket today, join the party.
Tens of thousands of people will walk away Wednesday without one of the golden tickets to the world's largest bohemian desert campout/largest pop-up, outdoor art museum. This year's rendezvous takes place from Aug. 26 to Sept. 3 in the Black Rock Desert, about two hours north of Reno.
The Burning Man main sale is expected to sell out lickety-split as usual, with approximately 26,000 $425 tickets and 10,000 $80 vehicle passes on the selling block. While there are far worse things than not getting a Burning Man ticket -- the plague, a hangnail and a piano falling on your head for starters -- we understand that some of you might be slightly distressed by your noon plan not working out.
While we recommend doing something else with your life besides crying about a Burning Man ticket -- maybe build a free library, go volunteer for an assisted care living home or call your friend that you haven't spoken with in 10 years -- we can lend you a few tips on how to get your knickers out of a bunch, and calm down about that damn Burning Man ticket:
1. Work on a project
Truly the most admirable way to get a ticket is to earn one. Burning Man gives out 26,000 face-value tickets to critical theme camps, art installation crews, mutant vehicle crews and other core Black Rock City infrastructure providers. In other words, you need to do something pretty damn awesome to get a ticket this way, though there are tons of channels. Help build a stunning sculpture, or perhaps volunteer your time to building the city itself. If you're in the Reno-Sparks area, check out the Generator maker space, where they are building the 2018 Temple, among other projects, and, if you're in the Bay Area, check out any one of the maker spaces in the San Francisco-Oakland area.
- You become part of a family of creatives, and you get to see the fruits of your labor contribute to the event.
- This sale already passed... but you may find that your work will pay off and someone who has tickets might send some your way.
- It does not always work out that there are enough tickets for everyone that has contributed to the project.
2. Secure Ticket Exchange Program
The Secure Ticket Exchange Program (STEP) is an online system that facilitates the safe resale of face-value tickets and vehicle passes that have been purchased directly from Burning Man. It's designed to provide a hassle-free, secure way of buying and selling tickets while avoiding scammers, counterfeits and scalper, according to Burning Man's website. A Burner profile and pre-registration is required for the program, which lasts five months and is open to those wanting to buy and sell tickets and vehicle passes.
- Ticket orders purchased in STEP are fully transferable and eligible for name changes.
- Ticket orders purchased in STEP can now be shipped (new as of last year).
- Anyone offered ticket(s) through STEP will also have the option to purchase one (1) vehicle pass.
- Any ticket order that has already begun the fulfillment and delivery process -- which is in July -- is no longer eligible for submission into STEP.
- Only $425 tickets and vehicle passes can be sold through STEP— pre-sale tickets are not eligible.
- There is an additional charge for each ticket and vehicle pass bought through STEP. All other usual fees apply.
- Availability of tickets is dependent on participants releasing tickets into the program.
- You have to get into line quick for STEP too, because tickets are given on a first-come, first-serve basis.
3. The OMG Sale
The OMG Sale includes the sale of 2,000 tickets at $425 each, and 1,250 vehicle passes available at $80 each, plus applicable fees. The sale is essentially a last-chance sale of tickets and also is first-come, first-serve and requires registration.
- You can buy up to two tickets and one vehicle pass.
- The only delivery methods available for this sale are UPS second day air mail (for U.S. addresses), Canada UPS Expedited, and Will Call, which could mean a painfully long wait if compares at all to last year.
4. The Low Income Ticket Program (reserved for those who are in, and can demonstrate, actual financial need).
4,000 tickets at $190 each are available through the Low Income Ticket Program. These tickets are reserved for participants on a limited income who cannot otherwise afford a regular priced ticket. These tickets are non-transferable.
- Cheap tickets.
- Burning Man does not list an income bracket that is eligible.
- This program will take a little work to participate in. You must provide proof of your income and expenses; applications without documentation are not considered.
5. The NOT Low Income Ticket Program
In April, $1,200 tickets will be made available to Burners. These are not special tickets in that you get no more bang for your buck than you do with a $425 ticket, but you do get a ticket and you fill the coffers of Burning Man. That's up to you if that's the nonprofit you want to give extra mula to for kicks. Hey, it's your paycheck.
- You might actually get a ticket since there's less competition right out of the gate for these tickets.
- Cheaper than the million dollar tickets on TicketHub, and you're paying Burning Man vs. a scalper.
- That's a lotttttta money for a ticket to anything. Ok, maybe that's a cheap ticket to the moon, but if we're talking about earthly trips...
- You can't enter this sale just for the sake of getting an extra vehicle pass.
6. Purchase a ticket from a friend or stranger
Some people are not going to go. Some people already know this, and some won't decide until the last minute. In fact, the closer it gets to the Burn, the more people want to get rid of their tickets if they cannot make it. August is the time when people have to decide: Am I going or not? So, a surprising number of tickets become available right before the Burn, Aug. 26 to Sept. 3.
Craigslist has ticket sales ads (both ones wanting to buy and sell), but figuring out how to not fall for a scam is on you. There also are Burner groups on social media (such as the "Burning Man Ticket Begging" group on Facebook) where you can plea pathetically without getting flack from jaded Burners. The best option is to get on social media and throw a net, hoping that one of your coworker's friend's cousin's has a ticket (Worked for me last year.). Heck, offer to sell your soul. No, don't do that. It's better to somehow know the person you are buying from, and hope that 425 bucks will suffice versus handing over your dignity in the form of your soul or an inflated pricetag.
- You could get a ticket.
- You could get scammed and never get a ticket. Your ticket could be a counterfeit (Burning Man offers tips on how to distinguish a counterfeit ticket.). You also could pay way more than face value, which Burning Man highly discourages because it perpetuates the scalping system.
7. Go to a different Burn
There are many official regional Burns throughout the year, including Nowhere in Spain, AfrikaBurn in South Africa, Israel's Midburn, Flipside in Austin — there are more than 70 Burns throughout the world, according to Burning Man. There are tons of Burns all around the United States alone. Try something new. Be bold. Take a risk. It's the true Burner way.
- The regional Burns are smaller in size and, as a result, are not as generously criticized for violating the principles that Burning Man was founded upon.
- You can see a new place and have a unique experience that many traditional Burners never have had.
- Travel expenses could be steeper, depending on where you're headed.
- None of the regionals have as much art as Black Rock City.
- Because of restrictions preventing wildfires, some Burns -- such as Nowhere -- don't allow burning. Go figure.
8. Do something else this year
There are a million bajillion ways to add excitement in your life besides Burning Man. While it is often touted that there is "nothing like it," there is also nothing like going to Machu Picchu or fly fishing in Montana or taking a National Geographic photography class in India (Sorry, these are just a few of my bucket list items that I'm sometimes certain I'd rather do than Burning Man when it gets hot out on the playa.). Don't forget how grand and giant this world is, and how many experiences you could fit in your life for the price of Burning Man.
- Burning Man costs a lot of money (don't forget, beyond the tickets you have to buy the food, water, supplies, etc.) and for the price of one ticket, you could have a whole lot of fun.
- You can choose to go somewhere that's not dusty, hot and full of dirty humans.
- You're not going to Burning Man.