Burning Man Is Moving to the ‘Multiverse’ This Year — but What Does That Mean?

This year’s Burning Man event is a virtual Burning Man. Due to COVID-19, the in-person event is canceled, but Burners plan to celebrate virtually.

Abi Travis - Author

Apr. 13 2020, Updated 7:15 p.m. ET

virtual burning man
Source: Getty Images

If you were planning to attend Burning Man this year, we’ve got bad news for you: Burning Man 2020 has been canceled. Or, well, it’s kind of been canceled, anyway. Thousands of people will most assuredly not be gathering in the Nevada desert for the event, but that doesn’t mean the community has to completely mourn the loss of Burning Man. 

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This year, the Burning Man Project is doing something a little different and hosting a virtual Burning Man. But what does that even mean, exactly? Here’s what we found out.

Here’s what to expect during the virtual Burning Man event.

Now is certainly the time to exercise extreme caution, and the Burning Man Project is doing exactly that for this year’s event. On April 10, 2020, Burning Man Project CEO Marian Goodell made the announcement that Burning Man 2020 would no longer be taking place in the Black Rock Desert due to concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Instead, there will be a virtual Burning Man this year. The website refers to it as “Burning Man Multiverse: A global quantum kaleidoscope of possibility” (and let’s just say it right now: That’s the most Burning Man phrase we’ve ever read in our lives). It seems like the Multiverse will be a “virtual playa” — a Black Rock City that exists completely online that everyone can participate in from their own homes, without breaking social distancing guidelines or stay-at-home orders.

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According to the website, the Multiverse will have costs, and there will be some kind of ticket system for the virtual Burners who participate. “It won’t be like the BRC we’ve built over the years; we know there’s no substitute for an in-person experience,” the site says. “It will be a new kind of Burn. We want to co-create BRC online with 100,000 participants to share our passions, explore fun new ways to live more sustainably, connect in these challenging times, and take care of one another.”

Some Burners are working together in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Burners Without Borders is a grassroots community leadership program that operated independently for 10 years before being incorporated into the Burning Man Project in 2015. The group was initially formed following the 2005 Burning Man event when several participants headed to Biloxi, Miss. to help with Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. Now, Burners Without Borders supports volunteers and disaster relief solutions around the world.

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In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Burners Without Borders has stepped up to help in a variety of ways, including supporting the collection and distribution of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) and sharing resources initially intended for use at this year’s Burning Man event (such as handwashing stations). 

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Although they won’t be gathering in the desert this year, many Burners are showing that good things can happen even when people are kept far apart. And, hey, there’s probably something to be said for the fact that no one is going to have to worry about all that dust this year, right? Here’s hoping that next year’s event will be even better than ever before.

The best way to prevent contracting or spreading coronavirus is with thorough hand washing and social distancing. If you feel you may be experiencing symptoms of coronavirus, which include persistent cough (usually dry), fever, shortness of breath, and fatigue, please call your doctor before going to get tested. For comprehensive resources and updates, visit the CDC website. If you are experiencing anxiety about the virus, seek out mental health support from your provider or visit NAMI.org.

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