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BURNING MAN: 8 of the coolest things I saw during the annual festival

Travel-mad Zoe Macfarlane shares her life on the road as a digital nomad, this week she comes to you with some of the coolest things she saw during the annual Burning Man festival.

Travel-mad Zoe Macfarlane shares her life on the road as a digital nomad, this week she comes to you with some of the coolest things she saw during the annual Burning Man festival.

Burning Man 2018, the biggest desert event, has concluded, returning 70,000+ freethinkers to the ‘default world’ (aka real life). Held in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert, Burning Man is considered one of the world’s most creative and expressive pop-up communities.

This annual pilgrimage is of epic proportions, with eight days (yep, eight!) of art, parties, workshops, and hugging random strangers. Dusty and dehydrated, these were some of my favourite Burning Man moments.




The famous and inevitable dust is one of the biggest fears a Burgin (Burning Man virgin) brings in with them. The Gate Guardians help get you ‘at one’ with the dust… by making you do dust angels!

After the mad-dash of Walmart runs, thrift store finds, and hours of driving, this grubby greeting hits you hard that you’ve finally made it!




You can spend your Playa sleeping off an all-nighter, bonding with your campmates, or attending the hundreds of workshops, talks, and healing sessions. Whether you’re looking to get your chakras aligned, discover your life purpose, or learn bondage tricks, you can find anything you think of at Burning Man.

The workshops of psychic Oracle at the warm-and-fuzzy Karma Love Camp were my highlights where her spot-on messages wowed.




Burning Man has to be one of the world’s greatest concentrated displays of creativity. Every camp explored, costume spied, or art car that passed seemed to be the work of artistic geniuses. Punny names like Camp Not for Prophets and Illuminaughty, fun art cars like the Cookie Monster, and breath-taking artwork, demonstrated an unprecedented level of creativity.




When rumours of a drone show surfaced, we took it seriously, even without a location. Cue an exhilarating bicycle race deep into the desert to reach one of the most beautiful and moving moments of Burning Man, as 300 drones took to the night sky to represent starlings in flight.


5. 747 SUNRISE


Is partying on an old 747 the ultimate rager for an avid traveller? Burning Man’s largest art car was the perfect sunrise party spot. Especially cool was passing the Insecurity Checkpoint and ditching negative vibes at Emotional Baggage – so much better than your typical immigration welcome!




It turns out you don’t need to be tripping to enjoy psychedelic art. Altered states of consciousness are represented in many ways but none as beautiful as Android Jones’s movie, Samskara. This 16-minute 3D piece took us on a spectacular immersive journey through the universe.




It wouldn’t be Burning Man without the annual lighting of a wooden effigy to ‘the man’. This year’s towering structure was in the iRobot theme, dehumanised by its rigid lines and blue lighting.

While the Burn was impressive alone, it was the camaraderie shared between friends old and new that made it a celebration, followed by an epic party by all the patrolling art cars.




Public displays of grief tend to be kept to funerals and cemeteries, but Burning Man’s Temple provides a more open space to reflect on those who have passed.

The sombre atmosphere moves most to tears as they silently wander the pictures, memorabilia, and messages attached to every surface. It may seem a buzzkill, but the release of pent-up sadness allows closure for many, particularly when the Temple burns, concluding the event.


Comment below if you’re curious about my lowlights too.