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Burning Man Tickets 2010: The Cost to Build The Metropolis

January 14, 2010
Burning Man happens Aug 30 - Sept 6, 2010

2010 Art Theme: Metropolis

Burning Man takes place in the Black Rock Desert outside Reno, Nevada over the Labor Day weekend.  For many years, the theme was simply “Burning Man” but now a theme is carefully crafted; many art projects, camps, and crafts seek to reflect on the theme. Last year, the theme was “Evolution.”

In 2010, the theme is “The Metropolis” which they describe as “Tumult and change, churning cycles of invention and destruction – these forces generate the pulse of urban life. Great cities are organic, spontaneous, heterogeneous, and untidy hubs of social interaction. In 2010, we will inspect the daily course of city life and the future prospect of civilization.”

In the first two hours of 2010 Burning Man ticket sales yesterday January 13, Burning Man sold out the First Tier of ticket prices (9,000 tickets at $210 each) and moved onto the Second Tier (9,000 tickets at $240) selling about nearly $2 million worth of tickets by noon with another 6,000 people still in the queue. Assuming each person in line buys 1.5 tickets on average, that’s another $2mil. So, in just around five hours $4mil worth of tickets will have sold!

That’s about $18,000 in sales per minute.

People are shocked all the time when I tell them how much it costs to go to Burning Man. Most of them think ticket prices are too high: even at the lower tier prices of $210 and $240, they doubt that it could be worth it for even $200, and they wonder where all the money goes–50,000 x $300 per, they figure, is a lot of money going into someone’s pocket.

Others are shocked by how much you get for how little–a week long festival of art and music and camping and fun for only $300? In comparison, look how much Coachella costs for only one weekend. (And then you spend another fortune on food and drink! And you have to wear clothing, whereas at Burning Man you can wear costumes and as little or as much as you want! And you get to ride around night and day on bikes)

So here are some more figures: according to the 2008 Afterburn report at, it costs over $14 million to make Burning Man happen for about 50,000 people. That cost breaks down to $282 per person.

For the 18,000 people who bought the lower tier tickets as soon as ticket sales went on-line yesterday, their tickets are subsidized by others–people who can afford more expensive tickets or by those who don’t buy their tickets right away. Here are the specifics:

Third Level:
9,000 tickets will be available for $280 each, while supplies last, or until 3/31/10, whichever comes first.

Fourth Level:
tickets are $300, while supplies last

  • Available through the Internet Sales.
  • Available through Mail Order. Absolutely No Mail Order sales postmarked after 6/30/10.
  • Available through Walk-in Outlets from 4/1/10 through 8/27/10.
  • You cannot buy tickets after 8/27/10 (unless you buy them off of Craigslist!).
  • Most years you can buy tickets “at the door” for the first few days of the event but that info hasn’t been posted
  • Typically, that’s another 30,000 tickets: that extra $20 per ticket subsidizes those of us who did not pay full pop.
  • One time scholarship tickets as well as low-income tickets are also available by application.

Like the firey photo above? It’s a 2009 photo of Crimson Rose, a long time organizer of Burning Man who I met at my first Burn in 1992. Here are the details:

CAPTION: Woman of Fire


CONTACT INFO: Email Ales Prikryl


NOTES: Crimson Rose behind Cauldron Flames

Like the bike photo? Here’s the info:



Dan Adams

Email Dan Adams


6 Comments leave one →
  1. January 14, 2010 10:20 pm

    see you on the playa =)

  2. August 26, 2010 2:01 pm

    I found this piece interesting : As Burning Man tickets have increased in price, there has been greater demand!

    Are they recession proof?

  3. rich permalink
    December 1, 2010 6:50 am

    I think this is the picture of Crimson Rose behind the flames.

  4. December 1, 2010 7:09 am

    Yes Rich, you’re right–and that’s what the caption says too.

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  5. August 7, 2011 6:46 pm


    “it costs over $14 million to make Burning Man happen for about 50,000 people. That cost breaks down to $282 per person.”

    You may be interested to see what the costs to go to Burning Man in 1997 when only 10,000 folks attended:


  1. Get Your Tickets Now to Join My Favorite Ride: Burning Man! « Bikergo Gal

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