Burning Man veterans get ticket access, followed by everyone else

Image from this year's Cargo Cult theme illustration by DA Dominic Tinio.

Burning Man veterans, volunteers, and insiders are now awaiting word on whether they'll get on the inside track to buy tickets to this year's event, avoiding the overwhelming demand that turned last year's ticket sales into such a clusterfuck. But the lucky 10,000 people chosen for the express line will pay the same $380 as the 40,000 people that follow in a couple weeks.

After scrapping last year's controversial ticket lottery system, Burning Man organizers Black Rock City LLC announced a new plan a few weeks ago, for the first time forgoing a tiered pricing ticket system (last year ranging from $240-$420) that was originally designed to encourage early participation and cash flow. But with the event selling out the last two years, that's no longer an issue, so BRC chose to sell all tickets at $380 (except the 4,000 tickets sold at $190 to selected low-income burners, and the 3,000 tickets sold early for $650 each, which was partly a fundraiser for the nonprofit Burning Man Project).

Still, there was the issue of how to ensure those who build the essential infrastructure of this temporary city in Nevada's Black Rock Desert get tickets, something BRC did on-the-fly after the main sale last year. This year, they're flipping it to the front end. Established theme camps, volunteer groups, and art collectives were invited to submit names of their core members by yesterday (Wed/16), and most will be invited by email tomorrow to register (filling out their “Burner Profile” on the BM website) for a first come, first served online sales at noon on Jan. 30.

“I do anticipate all 10,000 tickets will be sold and we think that will take some pressure off the main sale,” BRC spokesperson Megan Miller told me. “We've gotten a lot of positive feedback about streamlining the process.”

Some burners also believe the $380 sticker shock could dampen demand this year, but Miller said it represents a reasonable increase and price for the week-long DIY festival. “Our intention was not to price people out,” she said.

The great unwashed burner masses can register for tickets from Feb. 6-10, with that sale taking place on Feb. 13. There will also be a last chance sale on Aug. 7, one more measure to undermine ticket scalping and allow for some spontaneity.