Burning Man cancels US festival for second year because of pandemic

Organisers refocus efforts on a gathering in the Nevada desert in 2022

FILE - In this Aug. 27, 2018, file photo, burners surrounded by playa dust climb onto an art installation titled, "Night of the Climb," at Burning Man, in Gerlach, Nev. Burning Man organizers announced Tuesday, April 27, 2021, they are canceling this summer's annual counter-culture festival in the Nevada desert for the second year in a row due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Andy Barron/The Reno Gazette-Journal via AP, File)

Burning Man organisers announced on Tuesday they are cancelling this summer’s annual counterculture festival in the Nevada desert for the second year in a row because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The San Francisco-headquartered group posted a video on its website that said there are too many uncertainties to resolve in time to hold the event as scheduled between August 26 and September 3 in the Black Rock Desert, 160 kilometres north of Reno.

Burning Man chief executive Marian Goodell said the “difficult decision” was “based on the best information available to us".

“We know the need for community has never been stronger. And building community is what Burners do best. We also recognise the pandemic is not over,” she said. “We have decided to focus our energy on building Black Rock City 2022.”

The Reno Gazette Journal first reported the news on Tuesday on its website.

The decision was based on a combination of factors, not a single issue, the group said.

“Although here in the United States we may be feeling the weight lifting and the light at the end of the tunnel brightening, we are still in the pandemic and the uncertainties that need to be resolved are impossible to resolve in the time we have,” the statement read.

Ms Goodell said earlier this month they were considering requiring attendees to prove they have been vaccinated for Covid-19 if they went forward with plans to hold the event. The organisers backed off an earlier statement indicating that they had already decided to make the shots mandatory.

The 35-year-old festival, which draws as many as 80,000 people to the desert, had planned on capping attendance at about 69,000 this year.

Ms Goodell said they still intend to host local events around the world in conjunction with the week that typically leads up to Labour Day and culminates with the burning of a large wooden effigy.