Organisers of Burning Man announced on Friday that the annual desert festival scheduled to start August 30th has been cancelled for the first year since it began in 1986.
“After much listening, discussing, and careful consideration, we have made the difficult decision not to build Black Rock City in 2020,” the announcement read.
The event organisers announced that they will be canceling the physical build-out of Black Rock City for the safety of the participants and community, and will be building the city virtually, under the theme of “The Multiverse.”
“On a virtual playa, there’s no limit to who can participate,” the group said. The virtual event will be ticketed, but the price has not been announced.
“Given the painful reality of COVID-19, one of the greatest global challenges of our lifetimes, we believe this is the right thing to do. Yes, we are heartbroken. We know you are too.”
The festival draws roughly 80,000 participants from around the world to the Nevada desert every summer, where a temporary, multi-million-dollar Black Rock City is erected.
Most tickets to the event cost $475 in addition to a $140 vehicle pass. Each year, participants spend $50 million in Nevada on top of another $10 million from the Burning Man organization, the nonprofit has estimated.
Organizers are offering refunds, but are asking those who have already purchased tickets to donate the money toward the nonprofit.