It’s not an announcement or confirmation, but the Burning Man Project has sent a gentle nudge” to theme camps to start planning, and giving deadlines for those wanting placement.

The rush to start scheduling large-scale events again is officially underway with the big 2021 Outside Lands announcement, as (for now, at least) case counts are dropping and vaccine availability is increasing. But any big event taking place is still contingent on state and local authorities willing to give permits for gatherings. For the annual arts-bacchanalia known as Burning Man, that also includes federal authorities, as the event takes place on federally owned land. But the Burning Man Project has quietly announced to  camps to start planning for a possible 2021 Burn, and issued them deadlines if they want designated placement on the event’s makeshift “streets.”  


In a normal year, Burning Man tickets would go on sale in early April, with pre-registration and “Burner profile” updating going on essentially now in late March. The Burning Man Project is still officially unsure whether they’re having a 2021 event, and some big theme camps have already backed out, but they sent an email to large camp organizers this week telling them it was time to start planning if they want prime placement for the event which typically happens Labor Day weekend.

“Consider this a gentle nudge to start talking about your camp again. Put out your feelers among your campmates, and see how they’re thinking about Burning Man this year,” says the email from the event’s ‘Placement’ team. “This is the time to consider how your camp wants to Burn this year, even if it means not returning to Black Rock City. We don’t expect any particular outcome — except that you do what you feel is best for you and your camp.”

The Burning Man Project clarifies to SFist that "This guidance is not just for the larger theme camps, but for all camps in Black Rock City. We place approximately 1,200 theme camps and villages all over the city, not just along the Esplanade or other high-traffic areas."

The email does not mention the “go or no go” decision organizers said last month would come “no later than the end of May,” but has several other dates and deadlines. These are only relevant to the theme camps (“pre-identified, collaborative groups,” in the Project’s official lingo) so they can start planning for Directed Group Sales, or large blocks of advance tickets for their core team members.

Those who want such placement are told they need to submit an Early Placement Decision Form by the end of the month. “This form only needs to be completed by returning theme camps and villages,” the email says, adding that these forms “will be due on Wednesday, March 31, at 12pm PDT/ 3pm EDT / 7pm GMT.”

There is no announcement on when ticket sales would begin for the general public. The email also notes that declining to participate in a theoretical 2021 event would not affect a camp’s eligibility for primo placement in 2022.

Should a Burning Man 2021 actually happen, it will likely be smaller than the event’s typical 80,000-attendee rager. The Burning Man Project’s February announcement said that “Some of the measures we’re evaluating for Black Rock City include proof of vaccination, rapid onsite testing, antibody verification, and negative test verification. Nothing has been decided yet, but some combination of the above is likely to be required to return to BRC in 2021.”

Note: This post has been updated with comment from the Burning Man Project, and clarification that the email guidance was sent to all registered Burning Man camps.

Related: Mayor Breed Lambasts 'Reckless' Burning Man Celebration at Ocean Beach, Closes Parking Lots [SFist]

Image: The Burning Man Project