How to survive 24 hours at Burning Man

The desert festival returns as one utopian seeking writer takes in every hour of celebration and transports to out-of-this world pleasure


7am: take Parasolvent for a spin

One of the artworks that seemed to reflect this years theme (Da Vincis Workshop) best is Parasolvent by Dan Benedict. It consists of a disembodied suit standing at the base of a ferris wheel that has umbrellas instead of cars on its outer rim. Viewers can turn an enormous crank, which turns the wheel and makes the umbrellas flow between the suits shoulder blades. Its a very Burning Man art piece full of whimsy, steam-punkery and threatened violence that look weirdly beautiful against the desert background.

8am: check out jack champions murder

This is an installation of five huge black crows. When you see them from afar, you think they might be real and then they just get larger and more imposing as you approach them. They are like Alfred Hitchcocks worst nightmare come to life, and seem to portend doom in a hilariously delightful way.

9am: perfect your yoga pose at Elephant Expressions

Artist Scott Londons playful white elephant sculpture has the look and feel of an anime character that has been dropped unexpectedly into the desert. The pachyderm hits a funny political note of Republican presidential imagery, too. Particularly after a year of Donald Trump and his ilk dominating American media, this is the most peaceful, serene and pleasant white elephant youll ever want to
spend time with.

10am: take a ride on Lord Snort or the Airship Pusher

Lord
Lord Snort Photograph: Andy Barron/AP

A favorite with burners this year is a giant wild boar made out of
rusting corrugated metal. The 20ft tall, 37ft long sculpture Lord Snort by Bryan
Tedrick invites you to get on top of the galloping swine as does the Airpusher art car which looks like either a hydrogen bomb or an NSA listening device.

Noon: remember police violence in Black Rock City

Amid all the partying and playful art, take a moment to visit Que Viva camp, which is back this year with a new installation on Black Lives Matter and on people who have been killed by American police. It features two massive binders with single pages printed out from the Guardians Counted project of every person killed by police in 2016.

1pm: have a full body cleanse

There are no shortage of ways of to get your body taken care of at Burning Man with many theme camps offering yoga and massage. If you want to try something different take your dusty booty to get it washed like a car at the Human Carcass Wash; or, get your skin lathered with suds at the Doc Bronner Soap camp; or, get those cracked feet taken care of at Footwash camp.

2pm: get framed at Got Framed

One of the more simple and fun places to be photographed is Got Framed by
NiNO, an enormous picture frame in front of the Temple. But there
are more specialized photo frames around Black Rock City, like the
Burning Man apology frame (where people can make photo apologies for
indiscretions) or the Genital Photography Studio, which is self explanatory.

4pm: dance at Pink Mammoth

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A couple dances as approximately 70,000 people from all over the world gather for the 30th annual Burning Man festival. Photograph: Jim Urquhart/Reuters

No trip to Black Rock City is complete without getting your groove on at Pink Mammoth, the best dance club on the playa.

5pm: get tangled up with octopi

For a desert, Burning Man is home to a fair amount of aquatic life.
Octavius is a sculpture by Peter Hazel Mosaic, whose colorful, tiled tentacles seem to be desperately trying to pull the cephalopod out of the dry lakebed floor.
The other is El Pulpo Mechanical, a traveling octopus art car whose moving
mechanical flames spew flames into the air as it rolls around to music.

7pm: visit the pyramids

The playa desert seems to extend all the way to Egypt when you see the
Catacomb of Veils by Dan Sullivan, a pair of enormous pyramids. Made of
wood, the exteriors have open, airy tops and sides which look weathered
and textured, much like the Pyramids at Giza.

9pm: meet a whale from outer space

Participants
Participants gather around the Space Whale art installation Photograph: Jim Urquhart/Reuters

One of the most prominently featured pieces this year is The Space Whale,
an enormous sculpture rising above the dry earth near centre camp. The
sculpture is of two whales a parent made of stained glass, and a calf,
which is made of meshed metal, and both seem to be actually life sized.
The stained glass of the larger whale is exquisite. They are accompanied by a sound installation mostly made of whale songs and the occasional human voice.

11pm: watch the balloon chain

One of the most magical installations at Burning Man every year is the
Balloon Chain, a light installation that floats above the playa every
night when it is not too windy. It is made when the crew takes a thousand
ft of fishing line, attaches a balloon and in LED light every 10 feet,
and then releases that column into the sky. As tall as a Empire State
Building some nights it is visible for miles.

Midnight: be guided to safety by the Black Rock Lighthouse Service

A series of six lighthouses and what looks like a sea monster about to
tackle them, Black Rock Lighthouse Service is the most unusual large-scale project at Burning Man this year. Visitors should be allowed to crawl up and around these precarious towers and across whimsical suspension bridges between them. It is scheduled to be burned Saturday night, shortly after the Man.

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A participant looks from a hatch in a segment of a 747. Photograph: Jim Urquhart/Reuters


1am: trip under the 21,600 lights of Firmament

Perhaps the most beautiful piece to make sure you spend some time
experiencing at Burning Man this year is Firmament by Christopher Schardt.
Firmament is a canopy net of 21,600 lights which move to classical music. To fully get the effect, approach the structure and find a place to lay underneath it.

3am: pay your lack of respect to the Museum and Dead Things

At the Museum and Dead Things, you can see some the most freaky taxidermy animal hybrids ever created, such as a mongoose affixed with the wings of a hawk. Theres also a disassembled piano you are invited to the hit with hammers or small metal balls onto, allowing you to create your own John Cage soundtrack to score
your tour through the taxidermy twilight zone.

4am: have a seat inside Transparenza

When you come across Transparenza, a interactive sculpture by Andrea
Greenless, make sure you duck down through its low door to step inside.
Stooping down, youll walk into a magical acrylic realm where the colors shift through countless hues.

5am: go for a flight on a 747

The Boeing 747 parked here in the desert has a white exterior but, after you pass through the insecurity checkpoint, youll see its interior is brighter and more colorful than any flight youve been on before. No matter how turbulent the dancing becomes, the captain will not turn on the seatbelt sign.

6am: go on a real flight

After you leave the 747, begin or end your day near dawn on a real flight
(albeit on a much smaller plane). Hop on your bike and head on out to the
Black Rock City airport, where volunteer pilots camp next to their planes
and take fellow burners on free flights, usually at dawn as the winds are
the least volatile then. If youre lucky, some of your fellow passengers may jump out of the plane to parachute towards it all, shooting artistic flames on their way down.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2016/sep/01/burning-man-2016-festival-guide