The Burning Man community received a piece of fantastic news this week: Four more years!
And on top of that, it's going to be bigger than ever.
That's right -- Nevada's Bureau of Land Management has granted the playa the right to stay put until at least 2016, issuing a four-year permit for the event's use of the federally-owned Black Rock Desert. The new permit accounts for a whopping 68,000 attendees, which is a significantly higher figure than past years and speaks to the growing popularity of the annual countercultural extravaganza.
Organizers have been pushing for an increased population cap ever since Burning Man sold out for the first time in its nearly three-decade history in 2011. Demand has continued to skyrocket, prompting tickets to be distributed through a tiered system.
But the festival, which brings together artists and creative thinkers throughout the world for a week of "radical self-expression" each August, has had a rocky relationship with authorities in recent years. In 2012, the BLM placed Burning Man on probation for exceeding its population limit of 50,000. As a result, until the BLM officially issued the four-year permit this week, event officials were forced to apply for use of the remote stretch of Nevada desert on a case-by-case basis.
So will Black Rock City, as the area is affectionately dubbed by its attendees, continue to expand beyond the new parameters?
Burning Man Spokeswoman Marian Goodell told The Huffington Post last year that a 70,000-person population was the ultimate goal, and organizers only plan to grow slowly and carefully. "When a town grows too quickly, the infrastructure can't keep up with it," she said, pointing to congestion on the two-lane road leading to the festival's nucleus as an example.
This year's event kicks off on August 26 and runs through Labor Day weekend. Are you planning to party in the playa? Let us know in the comments, and add your photos from past burns in the slideshow below: