Nevada’s legendary Burning Man Festival is celebrated in a temporary, vehicle-free community known as Black Rock City, way out in the Black Rock Desert, twelve miles north of tiny Gerlach, which is itself a hundred miles north of Reno. It takes place at the end of August each year, in the week leading up to Labor Day. That’s a very, very hot time to be out in the Nevada desert, particularly if, like perhaps half of the fifty thousand revellers, you’re completely naked.
The festival takes a different theme each year, always with a strong emphasis on spontaneity and mass participation. An exhilarating range of performances, happenings and art installations culminates in the burning of a giant human effigy on the final Saturday. After that, in theory at least, Black Rock City simply disappears without trace.
For full information and the latest ticket prices, for which the standard rate is around $380 for the week, access burningman.com. All visitors must buy tickets in advance; you can’t pay at the gate. Only those who can prove total self-sufficiency are admitted; that means you have to bring all your water, food and shelter. The site holds no public showers or pools and its economy is almost entirely based on barter. No money can change hands, other than for coffee and ice.