28 Festivals and 8 Reasons They Can Change Your Life (Plus: Free Burning Man Tickets!)

Chip Conley, founder of Joie de Vivre Hotels.

Chip Conley is the founder of Joie de Vivre Hospitality, which he began at age 26 and built to more than 30 properties in California alone. In 2010, Joie de Vivre was awarded the #1 customer service award in the U.S. by Market Metrix (Upper Upscale hotel category).

Conley has also been named the “Most Innovative CEO” in the Bay Area by the San Francisco Business Times, and I’m proud to call him a friend.

Last year, he decided that he wanted to become the world’s leading expert on festivals.

Why? Because he’d seen his personal and professional lives transformed by places like Bali and Burning Man. Since that decision, he’s traveled to more than two-dozen countries to experience more than three-dozen festivals and launched Fest300.

Why are festivals — one of the mankind’s oldest traditions — most important than ever in a digital world? What are Chip’s favorite festivals and how can they tranform your life?

This post — full of inspirational photographs — answers all of these questions.

Chip is also giving away two free tickets to this month’s sold-out Burning Man, which include drinks with Chip and quite possibly Larry Harvey, the founder of Burning Man. Deadline for submissions is this Friday! Details at the end of this post.


Enter Chip


1) The more virtual we get, the more ritual we need.

As we become more reliant on our iPhones, and more “connected” through Facebook, we can actually become more disconnected from each other. Real connection is what we crave. Festivals are as old as humanity, but in the digital era there’s a new peak in the magnetic attraction to extraordinary human gatherings. Whole festival genres such as transformational (Jeet Kei Leung TEDx Vancouver) and EDM (Chicago EDM Tribute) have doubled in size over the past decade. There’s an immediacy available when we put down our smart phones and dive into the present moment at a festival. Because what we need are IRL (In Real Life) experiences, while we drown in a sea of URLs.

Digital overload may be a first world problem, and not an immediate matter of life and death. But, on parts of Bali and at Burning Man, cell and wireless connections are rare or nonexistent. Life and death are immediate as they are ritualized in community and in fire – far from anything virtual. My festival transformation was forged in the fires of both.

Bali rekindled my childhood love of festivals, which is why I’ve returned over a dozen times. From birth to death, the Balinese culture is grounded in festivals. The Balinese honor the passing of life during the light of day with public cremations that celebrate the dearly departed while they often lie in full view…


then send them to the heavens in grand funeral pyres…



The community must be present to complete the journey, yet you need not live there to feel right at home. There’s a freedom in facing the inevitability of death together, which provides a sense of meaningful connectedness in this shared theater of life.

Burning Man founder Larry Harvey burned an effigy in his own image on a San Francisco beach to transform his broken heart.

25+ years later, Burning Man’s climactic night of burning “The Man” in the desolate wilderness of Black Rock City’s playa is now the penultimate inferno at this annual event that will host a record 68,000 people in 2013. The final burn is actually that of the Temple…


an enormous temporary structure that acts as a receptacle for words, pictures and totems, ritually deposited during the week with a combustible mixture of laughter and tears.


The Temple burns in an emotional bonfire on Burning Man’s final night…


Anyone who’s experienced this will tell you that, while there’s a lot of fun to be had at this world-renowned festival, there is – perhaps more importantly – a real opportunity to sink deep into connection with others…and with yourself.

2) Festivals redefine “vacation.”

Too many of us “vacate” ourselves during our precious time away from work, trading in the couch and a beer for a beach lounger and a colorful cocktail dressed with a tiny umbrella. We’ve been ritualized into taking vacations that lack discovery because we think the antidote to burnout is passing out by the pool. We need to retire the words “occupation” for our work and “vacation” for our play. Our breaks from daily routine should be transformational. When we’re in our 80s, the peak experiences we’ll remember will be the ones where we checked into new places with a fresh sprig of curiosity in our elixir of life. The truth is, most people in the world see their happiness and victories in the context of the group or village experience – what sociologist Emile Durkheim called “collective effervescence” 100 years ago. Make a pact with yourself to witness and experience some communal joy and attend at least one festival a year. You can take the pledge here. The good news is you don’t have to leap continents to do this. In many cities, there’s an art faire…




or Day of the Dead celebration very close to your own backyard.


The above shots were all taken near my backyard in San Francisco.

An authentic Mexican Dia de los Muertos experience in Oaxaca might be more of a bucket list kind of trip. Till then, seek out one near you this November. Art faires like the Bay Area’s Maker Faire bring together a mash up of DIY enthusiasts who can make just about anything out of a little bit of string, some tape and a vivid imagination. And, Rio’s definitely got some colorful competition at the Mission’s Carnival, which boasts incredible costumes, dancing, food, music and merriment every May. And you won’t find a single pool lounger anywhere in sight.

3) Cultural Curiosity = a more robust life + a more peaceful planet.

In the next 40 years, the world’s population will explode from 7 to 10 billion people. “I need some space” will take on new meaning as personal elbowroom becomes increasingly scarce. The security landscape has changed in the past decade, and the 24/7 barrage of negative media about “the other,” can induce fear at the thought of breaking out of what’s comfortable, or beyond what we know. Festivals are natural barrier disintegrators. At first glance, India’s sacred Kumbh Mela may seem to have little in common with the throngs who flock to Spain each year to run with the bulls. And, within just one country, Turkey’s Whirling Dervishes seem a world away from the modern day gladiators of its Oil Wrestling Championships. But cultural curiosity is a mindset that opens a window into “the other” and into our selves.

I joined the crowd at India’s Maha Kumbh Mela this year. A Kumbh Mela happens every three years, with four cities taking hosting turns. The Maha Kumbh Mela happens every 12 years and an estimated 100 million pilgrims came together in 2013. The international news focused on a train station stampede where 36 devotees lost their lives. Tragic, but not surprising given the numbers. What the reports missed is how this congregation of mass humanity can peacefully coexist for five weeks along the Ganges River. Proof that we humans don’t need as much personal space as perhaps we think.


On the streets of Pamplona, personal space is trumped by survival skills when thousands gather on two legs to escape a powerful few running on four (more on this in reason #4).


Whirling Dervishes have been twirling annually for nearly 750 years since the death of their beloved poet Rumi, and Kirkpinar’s wrestlers have been proudly competing for over six centuries. What I felt in my bones, because I was there in the flesh (I did get a chance to whirl, but only spectated the field games), was a real sense of commonality between these two disparate rituals and my own worldview. Whirling is sacred. There’s an intensity – both physical and psychological – that gets whipped up in the midst of the dance.


The oil wrestlers similarly push themselves to physical and psychological limits in a display of honor and reverence for their community today, and for the ancestors who came before them. Those of us observing are immediately connected by the transcendent energy of the dervishes in the arena and the intensity of the men on the field. In both instances, I became part of something far away from my “safe” little corner of the world. Clearly, I was the curious “other.” Yet, all barriers disappeared and we were merely humans…being.


4) Festivals allow you to push your limits.

For generations, status was defined by how you kept up with the Jones’s: the car in your driveway and the size of your swimming pool. With social media’s “status” updates, we’re seeing a big shift from being material-driven to being more experience-driven. Since we can now share our experiences in an instant, our triumphs are tied less to “tangibles” like a BMW, and more to the intangible IMF (in-the-moment feeling) that can be viewed vicariously by our friends. Some festivals are lively competitions that you can enthusiastically observe and enjoy from the stands (Naadam, Concurs de Castells, Il Palio). But, the greatest transformation factor is found in immersive experiences where you shift from passive spectator to active participant.

Taking part in competitions involves pushing through your own personal fear factor. I had the pure pleasure of spectating the Cooper’s Hill Cheese Rolling Competition in Gloucester, UK, witnessing brave – or crazy depending on how you see it – men and women race down an impossible incline risking limb and levity. First-time American winner Kenny Rackers was on a mission to inspire one million people to pursue their dreams…

Observing was the right choice for me, as I’ve nursed a seriously broken ankle before. Still, connecting with the locals and cheering on the racers induced a joyful IMF.

But, in Pamplona, I threw caution to the wind at the Fiesta de San Fermin. Donning the traditional red scarf and an “I Love SF” tee that works for my hometown of San Francisco and for San Fermin, I did more running from the bulls than with them. It was an exhilarating IMF.


Another limit was pushed when I learned more about the fate of the bulls. I honestly hadn’t considered the bullfight at the end of the day. Participating in the run and observing the PETA protests and The Running of the Nudes provided another P.O.V. that transformed my thinking about this festival.


Seeing both sides, without judgment, is not an easy task in life. Being on the ground and experiencing another culture’s rituals forces us to do what cultural anthropologist Angeles Arrien reminds when discussing the Latin origin of the word “respect,” which is respetar: to look again.

5) Festivals allow you to connect with new kindred spirits or experience collective effervescence with close friends.

Sure, you can go online 24/7 and find people to chat with about common interests. But that doesn’t compare with the intensity of being with them in person, whether the focus is on yoginis at Wanderlust


or bikers at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally


Stepping outside your comfort zone means exactly that. Most of us are quite fond of our creature comforts and chosen tribe. Festivals can bring out the best and, sometimes, the worst in people. While we may yearn for new experiences and locales, our expectations can get in the way of enjoying what we may find there. Some festivals are inherently magical with serendipitous meetings of new friends and interesting locals at every turn. But, if you’re traveling alone, this may be asking too much of happenstance.

Traveling alone, I’ve made new friends of all ages, shapes and colors in languages shared and those helped along with interpreters, from the Kumbh Mela festival in India…


to the El Colacho baby-jumping festival in Spain.


If you prefer a traveling companion, kindred spirits can be just a click away. I often reach out to Facebook friends when headed to a festival. Last year, a friend doing business in Pakistan joined me spur of the moment in Turkey for the Mevlana Whirling Dervish festival. And a once virtual friend joined me last minute from the Philippines for a series of village festivals in Bali. Companion reality check: the wrong travel partner can be a real festival buzz kill. Be clear about why you’re going to a festival. If you’re looking for a life-altering transformative experience or just to find a casual hook-up, the best choice you might make is to travel with someone who has a comparable intent.

[TIM NOTE: See my related posts on free international housing in 20+ countries, as well as global volunteering as mini-retirements.]

#6 Festivals bring you face-to-face with the highest expression of the human spirit.

Later in his life, Abraham Maslow expanded on his iconic hierarchy of five human needs: 1. physical (food & shelter); 2. safety; 3. social (belonging); 4. esteem; 5. self-actualization. He added: 6. aesthetics and 7. transcendence. Art transcends cultural barriers. Feeling a part of something bigger than you is palpable at many festivals. Nowhere have I experienced this more deeply than in the midst of tens of thousands of people – from all over the world – writing their hopes and dreams on large paper lamps that become luminescent spiritual torches at Taiwan’s Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival.


The collective effervescence (there’s something about seeing it all together) of releasing these beacons into the sky is awe-inspiring, with a deep sense that our aspirations are all connected.


Seeing art in the every day gives you a new pair of eyes to see the world.

In his TED talk on the arts festival revolution, David Binder shares Australia’s Minto Live Festival and others with utter exuberance. These festivals show how the arts uniquely coalesce the local and the global. Art removes any sense of “the other” especially when the lines between performers and the audience are eliminated.

Two colorful festivals that express the enlightened, exuberant human spirit are at opposite ends of the temperature gauge. China’s Harbin Ice & Snow Sculpture Festival is an awe-inspiring display of artistic craft and superhuman endurance in -30 below freezing temps…


And India’s Holi (which has recently inspired similar festivals across the U.S.) transforms cultural barriers in the heat through a fantastic human rainbow of laughter and connection.


At both, the collective is necessary to inspire…and to be inspired.

7) Sometimes we need an event to facilitate transformation.

Transformation is a subjective term. One person’s metamorphosis might have a hedonistic flavor on an Ibiza dance floor, while another’s might emerge at a mountain monastery pilgrimage. I’ve experienced the gamut…profound moments that shifted big boulders in my life, as well as mind-blowing, in-the-moment connections that were just pure fun and frivolous.


I have also seen momentous shifts in the lives of others. One friend was at the top of his career and financially set, with a beautiful woman at his side. From the outside looking in, he had it all. You probably know someone like this. Or, perhaps it’s you. Are you miserable? My friend was. By the time he arrived at Burning Man, he’d gotten so used to seeing people as walking dollar signs that he’d lost his connection with humanity. What transpired over several days was nothing short of miraculous. By the time he left the playa, he was – and remains to this day – a changed man. What he needed was time, space and a completely new habitat – one based upon the gift economy and not the dog-eat-dog world – where he could let go and take a look at who he was at that particular time in his life…and who he wanted to be.

This could happen for couples who’ve lost their connection – traveling to the Buenos Aires Tango Festival to get their romantic mojo back. Or, someone dealing with a physical illness taking a trip to the World Bodypainting Festival in Austria to reclaim their body in Technicolor.


Or, maybe someone attends an LGBT Pride Festival after living a closeted life for too long.


Timing is everything. Find a festival that will allow you to welcome some transformation into your life. Marcus Aurelius wrote, “The universe is change, life is an opinion.” Maybe it’s time for a little change in your life?

8) The journey to a festival can provide surprising collateral benefits.

Many festivals are located in some of the world’s most fascinating towns or spectacular natural settings. When I traveled to Spain’s wacky baby-jumping festival this summer, I experienced a delightful bonus along the way. El Colacho is held in the small village of Castrillo de Murcia, where brightly hooded “devils” literally jump mattresses topped with infants to save their little souls.



This Catholic/pagan ritual has stood the test of time for four centuries, but as I trained my way from Madrid to northern Spain, I started having second thoughts about traveling so far for a small village festival that attracted lots of YouTube attention, yet scarcely more than a few dozen visitors. But, once I arrived in the charming, car-free, medieval town of Burgos – near the festival – I realized that El Colacho was the appetizer and Spain’s gastronomic capital, Burgos, was the main course…



The same happened while in Siena, Italy for Il Palio



In Fes, Morocco for the Festival of World Sacred Music



And at Kuala Lumpur’s Batu Caves for Thaipusam



Now I’m imagining that I just might experience some collateral benefits in Tahiti for Heiva. Soon!


Beneath our varied exteriors lies a universal human landscape that connects us. Writer E.M. Forster’s humanistic epigraph to Howard’s End says it succinctly: “Only connect.”

Now it’s your turn…


How to Get Free Burning Man 2013 Tickets

Tim and I want to hear how festivals have transformed your life and/or why you are BURNING to go to a festival.

The most compelling story will garner two tickets to Burning Man (August 26 – September 2), and drinks with me (Chip) — and perhaps founder Larry Harvey — at First Camp on the Playa.


A) Entry = post 100 words or fewer in the comments below, telling us how festivals have rocked your world or why you have a burning desire to go to a festival.

B) Deadline = Friday, August 16, 2013 at 12 midnight PST

C) Winner = Announced Monday, August 19, 2013

D) Prize = 2 Burning Man Tickets sent overnight to your door + First Camp drinks

Look forward to hearing from you!

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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311 Replies to “28 Festivals and 8 Reasons They Can Change Your Life (Plus: Free Burning Man Tickets!)”

  1. With limit Thaned festivals under out belt, the biggest take away and attraction for us is the sense of community. Being city slickers where often neighbors barely say “hi” let alone know your name, we sincerely appreciate the removal of walls and barriers; both tangible and intangible. We often comment on the value of trading our everyday “needs” for the bare minimum material possessions. Doing this connects us to our fellow humans, to ourselves and to the universe in which we exist. Other major developments for us have come in the way of learning and being inspired by others. What a festival can provide in a weekend could take a lifetime of learning; this is so critical since we can start LIVING now! Other words to describe what we feel about festivals are this: friendship, community, love, shared experience, smiles, dancing, postive vibes, perspective, contemplation, flow, freedom, liberation, creativity……..and so much more!! Thank you!!

    -Mike and Dave (Two great friends)

  2. My brother and I ran with the Bulls in 2009. There is something special about sharing an adreneline rush with your brother and best friend. We were living in the present, our athletic capabilities were enhanced because of the fear of death. Life is about enjoying those moments, letting go and just absorbing the energy that is around you. I would like to go to burning man with my brother so that we can make more of those memories, share more of those laughs and soak of the universal wisdom that others have to share. I believe in positive energy and wish to be surrounded by it any chance i get.

  3. In my study of the body, I lost sight of the soul

    Breaking down each part until there’s no longer a whole

    The friends that we have and the love that we feel

    Goes beyond the form we once knew to be real

    From Columbus to Lincoln and Mr. King’s son

    We continue to define “impossible” as just waiting to be done

    In a meeting of minds and connection of hearts

    We again become whole and create one from the parts.

    That is why I am BURNING to go to a festival!

  4. Last summer my roommate from Barcelona invited me to “Festa Mayor” in Sitges, Spain. Burning Man’s website says trying to describe the festival is like trying to describe a color to a blind person. That was exactly the case with Festa Mayor. A single observation – In the crowded narrow streets, performers waved these giant pole-like props called fire beasts. Imagine a 4th of July sparkler, only 100 times larger, flying through the air on the tale of a spinning ancient dragon. It was beyond me and changed my outlook on life. Becoming more and more open-minded through festivals is priceless.

  5. Festivals have changed me from the inside out. I had a fairly thick social shell up until this summer (and it’s the first summer I’ve really immersed myself in every possible music festival; big and small), and this shell has eroded away bit by bit. It was really only until this year that I expressed myself through dance, and what a release that was! I’ve just been reading about larger festivals such as Burning Man, Bonnaroo, Coachella, etc… and goddamn do I wish I could go to them ALL! I feel like myself in these environments. And I just want that feeling again.

    Burning to go! Thanks for reading 🙂

  6. Burning man helped me reclaim my life. In 2008, I lost my partner. It destroyed me—I became an alcoholic and fell into a crushing depression. My best friend took me to Burring Man that year and introduced me to The Temple. She handed me a pen and said, “Tell her. All of it.”

    I poured my heart out and said everything. All of it. I watched it burn later that week, and as I watched it burn, something changed deep inside of me. I found myself, and why I was enough. I haven’t drank since that day.

  7. 21. Finishing up self-guided undergrad at CUNY, Philosophy of Biology (4 Hour Work Week saved me from KPMG). Recently had my first excursion outside of the U.S. or Colombia, to an entrepreneurship conference in Trakai, Lithuania. There I discovered the value that the world’s most productive and trailblazing people place on experiences like Burning Man. This burner chick I met there, who left New Jersey to build an alternative agro-community in Chile, helped me realize that I’m burning for an experience that dissipates all the non-essential, the excess, leaving only me and my bio-tech dream. I believe I’d feel light.

  8. Hi!!! My name is Angela and I’m a 35yr old disabled Veteran 🙂 Going to Afghanistan in the ARMY changed my life. I have no regrets!!! When I came home, my life was upside down, and I could barely leave my house. I overcame my social anxiety by going to my first Phish festival!!! I remember being so scared, but excited at the same time. Being surrounded by such FUN loving people was the KEY!!! I’ve since been to String Cheese at hornings hideout, and countless FURTHER shows and festivals. One of the biggest moments of my life that forever changed me was, New Years Eve 2012, FURTHER at the Bill Gram Center in San Francisco. I was in the center pit on the floor when the Ball dropped!!! A GODESS from above was on a Dragon flying through the air, RIGHT AT ME!!! I was surrounded by THOUSANDS of people and I didn’t have an ounce of anxiety!!! I was finely FREE 🙂 Thanks to concerts, friends, festivals, glitter, Uncorns, Dragons, costumes, and fun loving strangers, I am now able enjoy life again. I can’t tell you how grateful I am to LIVE FREE!!! I have several friends that are going to Burning Man and they would LOVE for me to go, but I don’t have tickets. I have never been, but I can’t even explain to you how bad I would LOVE to go 🙂 I jump on EVERY chance I get to be able to ENJOY LIFE and celebrate with others 😉 Thank you so much!!!

    ?Love and Light?


  9. After a traumatic accident recently, I’ve had to completely transform the way I live. Being in constant flux, I’m struggling with anger, frustration, sadness. Yet going through this change has led me to being more present and seeing moments of integrity in people is opening me to experiences outside my comfort zone. Burning Man came up recently, and my immediate reaction was no. But slowly, I felt myself thinking…perhaps. Could it be that by going, I will be one step closer towards finding peace? I don’t know, but I speak from the heart when I say I’m willing to try.

  10. Hi!!! My name is Angela and I’m a 35yr old disabled Veteran 🙂 Going to Afghanistan in the ARMY changed my life. I have no regrets!!! When I came home, my life was upside down, and I could barely leave my house. I overcame my social anxiety by going to my first Phish festival!!! I remember being so scared, but excited at the same time. Being surrounded by such FUN loving people was the KEY!!! I’ve since been to String Cheese at hornings hideout, and countless FURTHER shows and festivals. One of the biggest moments of my life that forever changed me was, New Years Eve 2012, FURTHER at the Bill Gram Center in San Francisco. I was in the center pit on the floor when the Ball dropped!!! A GODESS from above was on a Dragon flying through the air, RIGHT AT ME!!! I was surrounded by THOUSANDS of people and I didn’t have an ounce of anxiety!!! I was finely FREE 🙂 Thanks to concerts, friends, festivals, glitter, Uncorns, Dragons, costumes, and fun loving strangers, I am now able enjoy life again. I can’t tell you how grateful I am to LIVE FREE!!! I have several friends that are going to Burning Man and they would LOVE for me to go, but I don’t have tickets. I have never been, but I can’t even explain to you how bad I would LOVE to go 🙂 I jump on EVERY chance I get to be able to ENJOY LIFE and celebrate with others 😉 Thank you so much!!!

    ?Love and Light?


    1. I think this wonderful woman sounds super deserving and embodies what The Burn is all about. She sacrificed so much for our country, mostly emotionally, and has found so much of herself in the magic of our communities.

      She is absolutely my favorite story and that’s why I commented on her story of all of them!!!!!!!

      Yay Angela!!! Great job!!!! Go to Burning Man!!!!!!!

      1. Thank you so much Bacchus!!! GOD OF WINES 🙂 I LOVE your name, and thank you for all of your positive energy, and kind words. My heart is full, and I’m feeling blessed to be changed by all of these amazing festival experiences. I am loving life, and I wouldn’t have it any other way…


  11. 100 words?! Okay…

    Condemned to life in wheelchair – severe multiple sclerosis.

    Vetoed medical treatment; chose acupuncture, homeopathy, music therapy.

    Near complete recovery inspired my BrainMusic organization. Ultimate goal: festival promoting music in recovery!

    Chart-toppers Snow Patrol hear, headline local LA benefit for my treatment expenses, invite me to T-in-the-Park festival.

    I work Glastonbury festival to pay for trip, over-exertion causes MS relapse, but, such saturation by music, festival magic, that last symptoms are…like…FORCED out!

    I attend T-in-the-Park with healed legs, muscles hardly used in a year…friends carry me around!

    MRIs have revealed me miraculously, completely cured since that 2007 trip.

  12. Born and raised in Austin, Tx, a slackliner/highliner/trickliner, artist and lover of new experiences.I have a firing desire to get out to Burning Man for my very first experience there. There will be a Highline again this year (Im on a Slackchat group and ive seen multiple talks about the last one and whos bringing what this time) Would love to get out and get some mental photos high above the festival as well as camera shots on a 1 inch piece of webbing looking out at all the creative energy. Much love

  13. I’m BURNING to go to a festival that will allow me to meet awesome people from all over the world, expressing themselves fully, without constraints!

    I want to feel the inspiration that I’ve been searching for, sipping back into my veins, along with some great conversations and hopefully some craft-beer!

    I believe that real magic happens when real people meet and share experiences and ideas, and I’ve got a bunch of great ones that I’d share with people that actually might listen.

    /Cheers from Hannes – devoted Beertender and Enjoyer of life’s finest!

  14. Community, music and art… used to smell like hairspray in my world. Having been a part of collegiate ballroom for four years, those words have always had a special meaning to me- from cheering the team, to supporting your partner, and finally to the breathtaking beauty of the costumes- some of which could stand their own in a museum. In short, I miss that feeling of connecting with friends and strangers (the co-competitors) when I left ballroom. To go to burningman, and be able to bond with others in a retreat for the unique, quirky, and very talented would be a dream.

  15. There’s a piece of torn kleenex box in my wallet, on it scribbled the name and number of the man who gave it to me. He was my patient; he is dying. With lungs over-inflated as accordion bellows and eyes pained, he describes the money to start rent on a place, that he’ll get it, that he’ll get out of the nursing home he is going to instead. 380*2>75% required sum. Two tickets burned and from dust life ended like it was lived: free. I do not want to go to burning man; I want to bring it’s gift here.

  16. I’ve attended small-scale community festivals since I was a little kid. About 3-5/summer; never bigger than 2500 people, averaging 500 or less. That’s because the Michigan music circuit is so tight-knit. For instance, Earthwork Music Collective “is less like a record label, and more like an opportunity to do meaningful work with like-minded people,” says founder/musician Seth Bernard. Cooperation, collaboration, community are the founding principles; music is a “tool” to inspire courage, a “language” to break barriers. What I’ve read of BurningMan, the principles seem the same, but the scale is much bigger. I’d love to see that.

  17. I have been a social dance instructor since I was 19. The dancing I have always done has been with someone else. When I attended my first massive festival I was taken back by how positive, open and fun everyone was on such a large scale. The only thing missing was a dance that people could do giving them freedom to express themselves without restrictions of basic lead and follow dances. This lead me to creating a dance that is the closest to a universal style ever made. The name is Uelectro, I hope I will get to share it with you at Burning Man!

  18. Probably the most transformational things I’ve learned at festivals are kindness and generosity. When you learn to pay attention for ways to help others, you can often find the satisfaction you were hoping for by attending the festival in the first place. It could be something as simple as offering your electric air pump to your neighbor who’s sweating away at inflating their mattress with a hand pump or even inviting someone who’s alone to come join your group. Not only have these random acts from others transformed me, but I suspect they’ve also helped transform others as well.

    P.S. — Just want to say that there are some incredible stories in these comments. Feeling humbled and inspired right now. Good luck everyone and no matter what, stay positive!

  19. Friends for life

    Experiences beyond your comprehension

    Senses awakened

    Theatre around every corner

    Inspiration to the ‘nth’

    Voice redefined

    Addictive, anarchic fun

    Love, Lust and everything in between

  20. I want to learn, to love, to live, and to create. I want my life to be full of beautiful mistakes. Burning Man is an incredible opportunity, not only to do all of those wonderful things, but also to be inspired… Flashback: The Kelly Slater article welcomed me, like a long lost son, into a world where being “in the moment” was crucial. This concept was completely foreign to me, and my mind was thoroughly blown. All week at Alive I focused simply on being in the moment; embracing the elusive present, surrounded by past and future, that is life.

  21. I’ve been to Burning Man three times and each time was different. But the thing that strikes me about festivals is that it is an opportunity to step outside of myself, disconnect and actually accidentally connect with those around me. And it’s about seeing and being something more and something more truly myself. The one time that stands out in my memory was one day when I was talking to my friend Lark and said to her that I wasn’t the kind of guy that women just made out with and she said, what if you were? That night I made out with 5 different women.

  22. I have an extreme wanderlust to see what the world has to offer through people, experiences, and especially music.

    Saying that music festivals changes and moves people is truth, and is something often said but is undeniably an understatement and is almost impossible to describe.

    Music Festivals did a complete 360 change on my life and I feel burning man would support and inspire these goals.

    My drive to see the world and experience and follow the music is something that consumes me everyday.

    I wish to follow the music to burning man.

  23. At only 28 I often feel like the walking dead. I see all of life’s little miracles around me… trampled and forgotten. The spirited friends of my youth tattered by time, slaves to some society I can’t even comprehend. I feel lost. I find myself in debt as I seek to live my life by my own rules, and I fear my time to find a way to make my dreams a living breathing reality is slipping past me. Every day I feel this anger growing inside me, and an ultimate sadness because angry is not who I really am. I’ve had the roughest year of my life. I risked all stability for a career where I could travel, and to say it didn’t work out is an understatement. In the past year I’ve lost friends who sold their souls to get ahead, I’ve exhausted myself with effort, and I’ve faced the reality of what money can turn people into – and it’s not pretty. I don’t know what I want anymore. All I know is that I can sharply remember walking in the sunshine as a little girl, walking away from home after one of my parents’ many fights about money, and saying out loud “I will never be bitter when I grow up.” Little did I know what a struggle that would be. I’m not ready to give up the fight. But I am in desperate need of some of life’s little miracles about now… to refresh my spirit… to stumble upon kindred spirits armed in battle against the same fate that I am facing. I would love to go to Burning Man. In fact it has been a dream of mine since I was in high school (10 years ago!). I hope this is the miracle I’ve been hoping for. Something to tell me that there is more to life for me than waiting in line for my chance to die. Something to give me the kick I need to pick up my fight once more.

  24. I attended my first and only Burn 14 years ago and you all know how your first one was. There is so much visual, artistic, emotional and sensual overload you leave thinking ‘I am SO coming back next year and doing it better.’ I never made it back – sidetracked by a wonderful career and life in general. Being between jobs/careers, I sadly realized the last decade has been primarily transactional, focused not on myself, but on work and family. I can’t think of a better place to kick off my own transformational path among the beautiful spirits of fellow burners. My special number is 7 and since I just turned 49 and my only Burn was 14 years ago, this is the year to go back!

  25. I am not anti – social but it is physically and mentally draining for me to around people most times; this coupled with the fact that I am comfortable with being by myself has resulted in 99% of my daily life spent alone. i would like that to change and would welcome the experience of Burning Man to help provide that catalyst and come back home and begin creating my own IMF, and although I don’t expect anything from the Festival other than being open to the experience I would add that it would be a welcomed opportunity to see what interactions would come from attending because besides the superficial pleasantries of basic conversations or interactions of necessity its been quite sometime since I have had an in depth conversation or connection with anyone.

  26. I’m out of breath. My Northern European muscles revolt. I have to stop. Alone in a sea of exuberant Brazilian bodies, throbbing in unison to the explosive samba beats. A warm, supple body presses against mine. The aroma of sweet licorice. His hands pulsing on my hips, moving me, melting me. The samba drums blow my brain, my armor, make love to my heart and spread through my neck, my belly, my sex, my legs… moving without my doing, shaking me, teasing me, twirling me and spitting me out into the spirit of the universe. I am dancing now.

  27. Once we are out of the roles we play and routines we follow, we have the time and space to discover who we are and who we can be. Transformation requires a pattern interrupt. And BM provides exactly that…. and more.

    All festivals, i.e. mass rituals of humanity, expose us to one face of the thousand-faced humanity. And my burning desire is to find a piece of my psyche with each face.

  28. Any event that brings large masses of people in close physical proximity to one another with an underlying cause/theme that explores a particular emotion to an extremity, is one that changes lives. A festival is one such quintessential example of this put into practice and it’s one of those things that can’t occur virtually. It works because over a very short span of time people are united via the maximum number of senses. I am currently organising a Peace Festival in Montreal and I hope it will make it to your list someday very soon.

  29. I especially love festivals that immerse you into another countries culture. And I absolutely want to attend the World Bodypainting festival. I didn’t even know that existed!

  30. Tim

    I was in an Apple store fiasco when I ran across your contest. Bottom line I some how got in my head it was over 200 words as opposed to under 100. Sooooo Please judge my entry by the first 100 words so that I comply . LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL

    Funny how this happened I was in touch with Burning Man Publicity in May about a press pass so in could document. I know it’s a long shot biut I feel lucky.

    Peace, Trust, Music,

    Tony Sinatra

  31. Chip

    Wow I’m impressed, what a great adventure. I’m a producer/director currently in production on a documentary called “STOCKS”. It is an examination of all the festivals around the world that have the word stock in there name and why they chose to do that.

    I would like to invite you to weigh in on this subject as I’m in the process of collecting interviews from attendees, performers, promoters and the people in the communities where they take place. I would come to you and it would take less than 2 hours total.

    Hope to meet you and get your take.

    Peace, Trust, Music,

    Tony Sinatra

  32. Tim, Chip

    Jez I forgot that these are published comments. Anyway I also forgot to include the Movie web sight so guys can see some of the progress on the film.



    Tony Sinatra

  33. I have not had been to any festivals that have changed my life, so that’s why I’m burning to go. A woman I know went to BM last year…it more than transformed her, it probably saved her from having a nervous breakdown due to stressful life events. I wished that I had been the one to introduce her to this, but I have yet to experience it myself. I want to go, mainly for myself, but also in hopes of seeing her there.

  34. Burning man has always been on my to do list, but I’ve never made it. I’m making a public commitment right now that I’ll be there within the next three years.

    Never Give Up.

    Peter Gossler

  35. I’ve been going to Renaissance Festivals for about fifteen years, and have met so many good people over the years. With the added benefit of social networking, you can connect with these friends on a regular basis, discuss upcoming faires, plan your next trip, or pass the hat for those in need. The social aspect of being a part of such a large group has ripples into other areas of your life, and occasionally comes full circle locally.

    Some times you even see friends on the Travel Channel……

  36. “The book you’re reading is a miracle. burningman.com : SOLD OUT.

    I hated my job as a server in a restaurant in Miami. Was I going to stay serving tables? Tim Ferris announced the new Chip Conley adventure on festivals. He offered 2 BM tickets. The contest was past due. Fuck it. I’ll write. There is a reason… sent.

    2 days later, got the tickets. After burning man: the Ayahuasca in Peru. Inca trail to Machu Picchu, Danced salsa in Puerto Rico, World Cup in Brazil and I embraced my dream of becoming a writer… everything because of BM”

  37. Going to festivals have definitely changed my life. My first experience was traveling to EDC: Las Vegas 2012 when I was 19, right after I took the leap of independence and moved out my parents home. At the festival, I learned that there is a whole new world outside of the bubble that you call your city, with people in which see the world the same as you do. This comforted me. At the festival I had the time of my life, and even et a girl in which is now my girlfriend.

  38. Glaringly left out was New Orleans! As a local New Orleanian, I can tell you our city cherishes and is fiercely loyal to a long list of unique festivals. Our year begins with Twelfth Night,, then progresses to a month of Mardi Gras season, crawfish festivals, two weekends of St Patrick’s Day celebrations, gay Easter parades, Southern Decadence, numerous festivals dedicated to wine and food,, and on and on it goes. Come and see for yourself!

  39. I am very grateful for experiences that involve meeting new people and living differently than the norm. My husband and I enjoy traveling and getting to know people from different cultures. Both of us are from different cultures and it fascinates us to go outside our comfort zone and explore the beauty of different environments. Festivals involve this wonderful interaction among people from different beliefs and parts of the world to come together. I believe experiencing Burning man would be a transformational event that would rock our world and bring us closer to the beauty inside all of us.

  40. Looking back during that quiet still time of the night, I realized I’ve let fear guide all major life decisions. Went to a College in town growing up with a safe major, picked a career that was logical in said town.

    I feel like is it is killing my soul..albeit slowly. Like I am on some sort of knockoff Truman Show series and looking for that boat to start sailing there, where ever that may be.

    To show I am serious, I did the imaginable, haiku.

    Inexpedient Life

    Enter Festival Novelty Factory

    Opened All Eyes Wide

  41. Hi there Tim, and Mr. Chip 🙂 Just wanted to let you guys know you have inspired me (not with just this posting but the whole blog) to start my first fundraiser for the Over The Edge “festival” in New Mexico. My goal is to reach $1,000.00 by September 13, 2013. 100% of the proceeds will benefit the 2600 New Mexico Special Olympics and if my goal is reached I’m sent over the edge to rappel a 16 story building in downtown Albuquerque!!! 🙂

    If you are interested in a contribution please click the following link:


    Thanks so much for all the adventures you’ve shared so far!! I’ve definitely learned a great deal from your books and blog

    Have an awesome day!


  42. I’ve known about Burning Man and many of the other transformational festivals for a few years now. I had my first glimpse/ taste of this back in 2006 and am still astounded on how much of an effect it’s had on my perspective of life.

    I haven’t been back since, and for some reason, The Burn is finally smoldering within me. I feel the need for rapid transformation and communal connection; to connect with my spiritual family. It is a feeling that is indescribable. Every logical thought is telling me to prioritize other things, yet I’m feeling the deep pull of the burn. The time is NOW, so what other moment do we have?

  43. I am burning to go to Burning Man because:

    They are my people. And they need me.

    And I can feel their need. They need my love and joy.


  44. This year at Kerrville Folk Festival in west Texas, I had an amazingly transformative experience. Got new perspectives on life and had my eyes opened to the absurd social limitations of our society and how we can make things better. BM has always seemed like that experience, but much greater. The opportunity to talk with people in and intelligent, honest and candid way avails us to forming new ideas.

  45. I am a constant reader of the blog and book…all of which I love. I continue to search however for a viable website to help with creating educational CD’s. Does anyone have any suggestions as to where I can look for software that will allow me to entertain my muse, and create disc’s that are educational in nature? Thanks

  46. My friend and I discussed going this year, but tickets sold out before we decided. We know we’re at a stepping stone in our lives, but can’t see the next footing. Months become years, waiting until the next opportunity comes instead of bravely jumping into the slightest unknown. We are both relatively young, but it feels like our choices are fading, wilting to the ever changing wind like Plath’s fig tree. There are those that need this experience more than us, but this would help give us an idea of the next direction.

    1. Hi Zach,

      We are implementing new bells & whistles on Fest300 as you read this. Right now our stats aren’t searchable, but that feature is on the “coming soon” list. Meanwhile, you can search by name, location, date and type of festival.

      Thank you for checking in and please feel free to comment on Fest300 about what you discover.


  47. And so the pilgrimage begins, in dust we trust . May your journey home find safety upon the open roads . Be smart stay alert and don’t fall asleep at the wheel you will be home soon enough.

    See you on the Playa next year !!

    Warmth and love for those who are going this year.


  48. This is by far the worst sales letter I have ever read; yet another hopeless promotion, pushing a crappy product that adds NO value to anyone’s life.

    PS – this feedback is NOT for free. You now owe me $20.

    Thank you.

  49. Love, People, Art, festivals and life. It’s too simple. Burning Man is on my to do list and I would give the tickets to my son and his fiance’ this year. This festival at this time would be life altering like a rocket ship for them.

  50. Ok, lets cut the crap here.. Im not going to say that Im a passionate about festivals or that I want to do this only because I want to talk with you, I will not be a hypocrite. I want to go to Burning Man because here in Argentina people is afraid of looking for their dreams in life, their are hopeless, specially my family and a lot of friends.. IM NOT GOING TO BE ONE OF THEM. I would be very grateful if you give me this opportunity to fulfill my dream: go for the first time to United States, live that wild life and meet people for all over the world. An then.. encourage these people to look for what they really like.

    Thanks for the opportunity.

  51. A very goody two shoes corporate-straight-suit-wearing friend of mine went to burning man on a whim and I thought nothing more of it. Upon his return I heard tales from the other guys that he got really loose and walked around naked wearing nothing but a cape for the entire festival. If burning man can do that to my buddy, I’m super keen to go down the rabbit hole myself.

  52. I went to my first Holi festival in New York City this past spring and I had the time of my life. Even though I was the odd man out there (almost everyone else was Indian), everyone accepted me with open arms, I got in a family photo with some people I had made friends with, and I skipped everything else I was supposed to do that day because I was having such a great time. I hope to go to more festivals in the near future!

  53. Hi Tim,

    I appreciate your no nonsense approach to everything and so I’ll be straight to the point.

    I loved your book the 4HWW. Especially Chapter 15 – ‘Filling the void. ‘

    You think similarly to myself and I’d appreciate someone to talk to that’s on a similar wavelength. This is NOT a letter asking for a mentor etc.

    ———- Further explanation… please read below if you have time.

    Where do I start? …….. Somewhere in the middle.

    You are right, when I got more time and money than I knew what to do with I went mad. I have been everywhere I wanted to and then some. I have done everything I ever wanted to and have no idea what’s left. (except 2 extreme sports that are just ego trips anyway so I don’t see the point)

    I am looking for something that excites me again and have been racking my brain to figure out what that is. 10 years ago when I mini retired I asked what that was.

    If I had 10 billion dollars, what would I do? What would excite me?

    After 3 days I came up with the answer.


    Not to anywhere in particular, but just Hitchhiking for the sake of it to see where chance takes me. It was fantastic!!! I hitched in cars and on boats. Super adventure, but then after many years I was done with that. I didn’t know what to do. I ended up in a backpackers in the Whitsundays sleeping till mid morning, playing guitar for 2 hours, doing a little work across the road, a little boat cruising, sleeping with random international backpackers, bit of SCUBA, bit of yacht sailing, playing some more guitar and talking to randoms over dinner with a view of the turquoise blue ocean. Sounds perfect…. wrong!! I was at my wits end. Then things got worse. A property deal I cut about a year before came through. I now had a wad load of after tax cash staring me in the face. I sat for days wondering what to spend it on. My mode of travel was hitch hiking so I didn’t need cash for that, my own cooked food is better than most restaurants (except 5 star), fast cars meant nothing to me, a house just seemed like a burden, I lived from a backpack so if I couldn’t walk with it I wasn’t interested, I already lived in the tropics, relationships seemed superficial at the time so I didn’t see the point.

    Then one day I wondered what that calculus thing was about. I rang several people and no one had a decent answer. I’d learnt things before, become an expert and then no one would listen because I wasn’t accredited. So rather than do that mistake again I ended up doing an electrical engineering degree.

    Done that now and am no longer financially wealthy. I am sitting in a plush office now writing you this letter on company time cause there’s bugger all else to do here. But they won’t let me go home.

    The other day the question was asked again. What would I do if time and money were infinite? The only answer I can come up with now is to do nothing (or something) with mates, but most of them are working, or they are not capable of understanding what I am talking about. That and learn something. I would like to have a family, but I know people with families that are highly depressed so it is not an answer to happiness. Happiness is something that is inserted at the second level of being. It is however the biological objective of our body to procreate and resisting that is not the path of least resistance.


    Again back at that point 10 years ago, after sitting for a couple of years in isolation with virtually no one. I accepted that there is nothing and no purpose to anything except enjoying the moment and being present. But doing it by myself is not healthy for the physical facet of the body. The body starts to self destruct even if there is acceptance of what is at a deeper level.

    So the conclusion is that present time with friends is what it’s all about. I am hoping I can find people who are present and understand what I am talking about. Possibly yourself, who knows. Maybe we won’t get along, but that 4HWW chapter on ‘Filling the void’ is a rare though process that few ever reach and I’ve never met anyone in person who is there by choice (Except maybe one). So just presence with friends is a great starting point. Like I was when I was 8 years old.

    Peoples eyes glaze over when I talk about things outside of the norm like the above. Or the rare ones want to understand, but can not. A woman I was seeing recently actually was accepting of the nothing. A super intense relationship. Only problem was that she was in this present state by accident and not by choice. Her misery had pushed her into this state of present awareness. As soon as her mind realised what happened she feel back into her miserable state and hence we broke up.

    Now I have let myself slip back into mediocrity and have neither time or money free at the moment. It will come again shortly. So if we are in the same geographical location as some time it would be good to catch up as I’d like to hear more of your thoughts on the above. At the moment I am in Perth Australia.



  54. I’ve only been to one festival and thats edc orlando. I was supposed to go to Burning man with my dad but we didn’t have the money to go. I want to go so I can connect with new people and continue on my journey of finding myself. Namaste = )

  55. All my life I had this ideal of joining societies idea of finding happiness, a good paying job, a loving partner, and a family of my own, loving my neighbor, being polite, saving money, going on vacation, buying materials for our personal gain. I have striven so hard that I actually mentally and physically burnt myself out trying to achieve something I did not even want. I found myself very lost in a deep dark place where I actually decided I would stay because the out of the dark place was an impolite, selfish, greedy and needy world. We all want to find happiness and to feel loved an cherished however one does not need a boyfriend or girlfriend, one does not need money to feel security. I had a life changing experience recently where I decided enough is enough. I am crawling out of this dark place everyday, and everyday I feel stronger and more clear. I do not want these societies ideals. I simply want to find my inner peace, I believe more than ever if you find your inner peace your can really feel compassion and love for not just your family but for all living things in this world. I want to go to not just one but many festivals which portray all different appreciations for life and this vast beautiful gorgeous earth we have been blessed to live on. I need a kick in the butt, I need to see real struggle, real laughter, and real compassion. I want this because I believe I have the strength to pass my knowledge on to make this world a better place minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day.

  56. My thesis research was about divination in Vietnam. The fortuneteller in Bali told me that I should go my yoga path. After 3 years of running a creative lifestyle magazine in Saigon, I got on a spiritual journey back to true wild woman self: I got my yoga teacher certificate in India, did vipassana in Thailand, had my first collage art exhibition, and now solo travel in America, burning my way to Nevada. Burning Man is a place to get back to my soulskin and meet the fearless self.

  57. I left the Army 5 years ago. The transition has been harder than anticipated. I am searching for an opportunity to reconnect to people; a way to find community again. It’s been 5 years since I’ve experienced the closeness and connectedness that many people take for granted. Festivals are, by their very nature, for the purpose of connecting and becoming close to others through shared experiences. I am tapped out, exhausted and lacking in confidence. I was once a creative and inspired individual. I would love to find that again.

  58. I’m not so much a big crowds kind of person. I’ve known people who’ve gone to Burning Man and loved it, and I’m happy for them. For people like me? Build a little ritual into your own life. You can get pagan with it and celebrate the quarters and cross-quarters of the year, or totally stay in your own religious or not-religious parameters. You can even find a smaller group in your community if you look enough and that’s what you want to do.

  59. I yearn for wanderlust. I recently got back from exploring Turkey and Egypt on my own… Solo trips give a different experience though from the constant heartbeat and synergy of a festival. I went to was Oktoberfest ’13 and it was a non-stop flow of energy that you can’t get from anywhere else. I want to experience burning man to see what a festival of giving is like. No currency, pure love and energy. It would be really fucking kick ass.

  60. I love all festivals but Burning Man specially has a magic place in my heart. I was able to experience it with my father who has now passed away and those days on the playa are some of the most cherished memories I have of him. Where else can you and your dad rock a tutu?! He was an artist and he did several painting of Burning Man that we have hanging in our house. Think about going back every day.

  61. I’ve had two back surgeries in 11 months and a divorce. I could use a great festival experience to reboot and give my life a little boost. Whether spiritual or artistic inspiration, I’ll take it, absorb it, and try to pass it on. Thanks!

  62. As someone overly engaged with rational, logical mode of consciousness (I work as an engineer), i have come to realize the limitations of always operating in this mode. Something as simple as a group standing around a fire, totally enchanted by it, or driving miles ro watch sea waves- these needs of our psyche transcend logical, rational mind. As a kid growing up in East, i used to look down on our rich heritage of celebrating communal festivals (didn’t pass logic test back then), but now I wish to reconnect with that magic by watching the man burn.

  63. I went to Bonnaroo eight years ago (Tom Petty was headlining, and it was indescribably awesome, but I think when Stevie Nicks surprised the audience and came on stage was my favorite part of the whole festival) I convinced my best friend to go with me (still my best friend to this day, we have been friends since birth–our moms were friends before we were born–for almost thirty years now!) to come with me and we took my little Toyota Rav4.

    Even getting from Ohio to Tennessee was an adventure–my friends mom calling her on the phone crying because she was worried about her, driving the wrong way down a one-way street, a cop following us for miles only to put on their lights, speed up and pull over the guy in front of us..I could go on. And yes it changed my life..In so many ways but let me just say that I had been in a “rut” before that and thinking I needed some time off school because I was having a hard time, but it not being realistic.

    At the festival we ended up meeting these two guys in the tent next to ours who lived in Utah and my best friend and I ended up moving there for the year and working and going to school together–and it was one of the best experiences of my life..There is something about the west coast, which is where I moved this year from NY (to Venice, CA).

    And now, eight years later I really want to go to Burning Man for my thirtieth birthday, (which is the first day of the festival). I have been dreaming about it for a couple of years now and it feels so close! I tried my hardest to go last year, and tried my hardest to go this year too (I swear I pressed the BUY button and the tickets were sold out instantaneously..I don’t even know if I had the $ in my bank accnt for it anyway..)

  64. Festivals removed me from a deep cultural isolation, validating my notions and empowering an informed worldview, they lead me to eco consciousness and tryptamine palaces…. An alien cast adrift in a sea of isolation, festivals ignited a humanity in me. A smoldering soul, lit, a connection with the divine in myself and all around me. Sparking true love, manifested in social entrepreneurism and the abandonment of warmongering. The fire of a thousand suns burns in my heart, ready to dance in communal immolation on the playa, and from its ashes build a new world without barrier.

  65. Lying on an operating table while doctors prepare to crack your chest open should be enough to get anybody’s attention and it surely got mine.

    Two short years ago, a heart attack and bypass surgery cost me almost everything–my business, my home, my car,my credit.

    Today I’m literally still in the process of rebuilding my life and Burning Man is part of the journey. When I tell people I need (not want) to go, they look at me like I’ve had a nervous breakdown.

    What they don’t understand is the inspiration, the community, the love that emanates from the desert during that period is what I need to keep growing and evolving and not feel like the best part of my life got left on the operating room table.

  66. I am a circus performer! Its both my passion and my career! I work at festivals of shows and party at fests like BM. All the festivals out there can be so different but the thing they have in common is bringing people together to experience something together. Each festival is unique and the people who attend it make it that way. From the 3,000+ shows at the Edinburgh fringe representing 50+ countries to the 80,000 people living in BRC for a week, festivals are hard to beat!

  67. The sense of peace, love, community, spirituality, friendship, humility, dignity, and fairness that I experience at festivals is sorely lacking in the rest of the world during the daily grind. Attending Burning Man is the rejuvenative experience I need every few years to restore my belief in the goodness of others, which allows me to go out and spread more love to all those around me. It’s like greasing the cogs of the daily grind!

  68. Back in ’83 when I was really young, my neighbors took me to US Festival – 3 days at one of the biggest music festivals ever produced by Bill Graham and Apple’s Woz. It transformed my outlook on life and from that point forward I dedicated my life to looking for life-changing experiences within a communal atmosphere. Since then I’ve had the pleasure of attending, producing and actively participating in music festivals, tours, and cultural community gatherings around the world. It’s my way of giving back and expanding my outlook on us as a society and the cultures that surround us.

  69. Dear Chip,

    Throughout my life, to my mind, soul, and body’s chagrin, I have never experienced a BM. They seem amazing. I hear stories about the earth shattering BMs people have experienced with awe and admiration. The raw potential to express oneself through exertion and community is an overpowering human need. A BM would fulfil my overwhelming need for ritual, and a shift in my internal emotional being.

    It is time for my satisfaction. Chip, help me to experience the first BM of my life!!

  70. I have a burning desire to go to a festival after hearing stories from my friends about their times at festivals and how they changed them. Coming from a lower financial class, I was never able to go to any festivals, and that saddens me greatly.

  71. I used to live in China for spell, and I’ll never forget experiencing Chinese New Year for the first time. Each sky-scraping apartment complex piled boxes of fireworks 7-feet high along the sidewalk. As a security guard placed the first box in the street, I remember standing there next to someone I loved unrequitedly and feeling desperately alienated. But as the sky lit up in a myriad colors, I felt the warmth of pure delight fill my chest. Looking around, I knew that we all felt it together. I want that feeling again.

  72. In July this year I went to a festival in the UK (Secret Garden Party) for the first time. It gave me a chance to be part of something special. My life consists usually of the same environment and journeys and it’s crying out for some new stimulus and experiences. Travelling to the States and being part of Burning Man festival would be a real eye opener for me. I’m fascinated by the psychology of personality and how we exist in different environments. It would create memories that will inspire me for the rest of my life.

  73. “The medium is the message…”(Quotes from Tony Wilson, Factory records. And Shepard Fairey, Obey Giant)

    My passion for the live music, arts and festival experiences began at an early age as my Mother, an owner and choreographer for a dance company brought me along to travel the country with her performances. Creating my own career path I’ve worked almost every position on production staff to holding event marketing positions with agencies and brands all revolving around concerts, special events and festivals. BM would be a nice catalyst and experience to further pursue my dream to create and own a festival in Southern California. Well versed in the live music and festival experience as both a fan and a contributing production team member, I’d like to continue to hone my skills and experiences while offering a lifetime of insight in delivering a better festival experience. Challenge convention, be ambitious, and seek opportunities to challenge the artist. I’m excited to further push in creating, networking and being a part of the next great festival.

  74. I had kidney failure from an auto- immune disorder in December of 2013. I’ve had multiple surgeries, many hospital visits, and had to do dialysis around the clock ever since. I want to be reborn, and live what life I have left to the fullest! Burning Man would be a great start!

  75. I attended my first music HIgh Sierra Music Festival at Bear Valley (then) in 1998. My marriage was on the rocks and I wasnt happy with a lot of things in my life. Through that festival I met a core group of friends who continue to inspire me. I brought my wife into that community and our marriage has never been stronger. We would love to attend burning man and bring our daughter (9) with us so that she can be inspired and fueled by the power of community and truth!

  76. I have floated through many festivals with the ease and forcefulness of an iron feather, but Burning Man….what could be better?

    To learn of lives lived so new and fantastically bizarre…

    To meet with some prophets and revel and stomp under twinkling stars…

    I want to feel the warmth of the fires created, as well as the unheralded spiritual warmth of an LED glow…

    When the sun sets behind the desert so big, knowing that it will rise again to create another dawn that will be every bit as good as the last….

    I want sand in my face, feet, hands and in the crack of my ass…

    I want to be assured that communal can possibly exist without the stigma of times long past…

    To rambunctiously rave and hear some good rants, of love and humanity and magical plants…

    I want to jostle and trade in my very last emotion, to sip of the nectar of fine Earthling potion


  77. As an jntrovert, festivals have always held a special type of wonder. I deeply hunger for a sensation of… Tribe. I yearn and ache for the few that are out there. Festivals represent everything I am passionate about. Music, art… Pure freedom and joy. Also, as an artist of various mediums, I need to study them. I need to learn what makes a good festival. My ultimate dream is to bring joy to people’s lives. I simply need inspiration. One of my dreams is to build something at burning man. I’ve placed this in my bucket list. After my near death experience, I knew… My purpose is to inspire. Thank you for this opportunity, I deeply hope I get the chance to experience such a wondrous event. I would certainly make great use of it.

  78. The Buried Life. After coming across this amazing group many years ago, I have created a new understanding of life different from the straight-lined path intended for me. The Buried Life lives in the philosophy of accomplishing everything they have wanted to do before they die. I have my own list and Burning Man has always been in my top ten. Different events caused my life to change paths and now, I choose the philosophy to look adversity in the face and accomplish my dreams. Experiencing Burning Man would be an amazing dream coming true.

  79. Before festivals I had a very limited view of the world. Festivals helped me engage with people that I would never run into in my day-to-day home-to-office-and-back life. My first music festival was in Monterey 15 years ago with my 3 young nephews. It was a joy to watch them grow out of their shells. At Burning Man the friends I made were amazing and the art out there has stretched my view of what art can be and what it can do for you. I feel like a part of me is only alive out there. I miss that.

  80. I am a designer seeking inspiration everywhere. The last festival I celebrated involved jumping over fire to cleanse the soul when I was a kid. I felt so free and happy. These days I go to degree shows and international car shows, everything feels so corporate and pressured with people trying to stand out. I want to feel free and inspired again, and hopefully meet some interesting people on the way.

  81. I need to go to burning man because that’s when my level of self-realization kicks in and I finally feel present. The “system” in which we function has created expectations on how I should act. But when I go to a music festival, the words “should,” “would” and “could” are left at the gates. People so badly want to define themselves as different that they go to great lengths to try and decipher what the public accepts instead of just “being”. This then counteracts with all your efforts to stand out and puts you in the fabricated box of being basic.

  82. At Burning Man last year I connected with the deepest levels of rage I ever felt. Unsure why, I rode my bike out to the middle of the playa. I did some somatic exercises and started to see visions of my grandpa being politically imprisoned from the age of 6-26 (true story; also many family members died or were executed…as young as 13 years old). Since then, I’ve now got a full manuscript on his life story that I’ve written with him, and in doing so healed much internally.

  83. **TRUTH BOMB** I honestly can’t believe how badly I want to win this because I have never had a desire to attend Burning Man until reading this post right now, and I sincerely hope you hear me out anyway.

    Extreme Coles notes version – I have feared much in my life: change, relationships, my authentic self, flying, deep water, death, and on and on. This past November I finally said fuck it. Sick from the torment of not liking myself, I have been making all kinds of crazy amazing strides – most importantly I decided to stop living for & seeking happiness from everyone else, and started listening to myself & quite simply, breathing.

    In all truth, I never thought of Burning Man as much more than ‘hey we’re doing drugs… but we’re like, in a desert’ style (and that’s cool too – to each their own). But I understand now the bigger picture of it all, and it’s everywhere I need to go.


  84. June 2013, I dropped my best friend and ex-husband at the airport. We had decided to get divorced only a week before the day he flew. We were together for ten years. I knew I would never see him again. That August, I drove myself to my first Burn alone. My first sunrise on the playa was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.

    August 2015, I am dancing in front of the Lotus Temple in the dust. My eyes landed on a man with a lovely kind smile. He walked to me and we hugged even before we said hello. The colors of that sunset are forever painted in my mind.

    August 2016, we will be coming back to the playa to celebrate our 1 year anniversary. Burning Man changed my life. I cannot be more grateful.

  85. A woman freed

    From corporate greed

    To live the life

    Everyone needs

    I fell in love

    With people’s passion

    Realised I had no love

    I had no compassion

    I yearn for my clan

    I yearn for my tribe

    I yearn to see the good

    I burn to see the man

  86. I’ve never been to any festival. First time I heard of Burning Man was about 4 yrs ago. I was intrigued and took the time to learn about it and now I have a burning desire to go. I’m going through a lot of rapid changes in life right now…I think Burning Man would be the perfect thing for me at this time.

  87. Festivals reconnect individuals to community but in a larger sense humanity. Upon returning from an 18-month deployment to Afghanistan I used festivals, skiing, skydiving boogies and concerts as a way for me to reintegrate back into normal life, reconnect with old friends, and make all new friends. These teach the soul to fly. I always come away from these events a different and better person who feels more comfortable in the present world and excited for what the future will bring and how I can contribute to that future. I’d love to Burn with you, 2nd round is on me!