North America’s biggest outdoor arts festival just keeps getting bigger. The Burning Man festival will be bursting at the seams now that the festival organizers have gotten a four-year special recreation permit. The Nevada fest previously allowed a maximum attendance of 60,900, but the permit will allow attendance to be as high as 68,000. The permit officially allows a maximum of 70,000, but the festival organizers settled for a cap of 68,000.
Of course, there’s the fine print too. Gene Seidlitz, manager of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s Winnemucca District, said the festival must comply with 60 conditions having to do with security, clean-up and resource management. “Our priorities in managing this permit continue to be the protection and conservation of natural and cultural resources, as well as the safety for all participants and staffs,” Seidlitz said. “I feel confident the permit addresses these priorities.”
Burning Man, which started off in San Francisco’s Baker Beach, has steadily grown larger and larger in the years following its inception. It drew a paltry 80 people in 1990, but three years later, there were more than 1,000 people in attendance. By 1999, the festival grew to 23,000.
The festival attendance started becoming a problem in 2011, when the organizers were given a notice of non-compliance from the Bureau of Land Management for going over the 50,000 maximum attendance; on two days, the festival reached 53,000. The bureau then put the festival on probation, and Burning Man organizers were told that if they received another non-compliance in a second straight year, then that could lead to the suspension or cancellation of their permit. But that looks like it’ll all be in the past due to this new permit.
Burning Man will be taking place Aug. 26-Sept. 2 in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada. For more information, check out the festival website.