Although festivalgoers from across the country typically plan to gather and create Black Rock City in the Nevadan desert every summer, the event will likely no longer go on as planned – physically.

Burning Man CEO Marian Goodell revealed in a video statement over the weekend that this year’s event will take place virtually due to concerns over the coronavirus pandemic. She said that she wasn’t announcing the cancellation of the festival, noting that “Burning Man is a culture, it’s a movement,” and “we are not defined by one aspect of Burning Man, we’re defined by what we bring to Burning Man.”

“After much listening, discussion, and careful consideration, we have made the difficult decision not to build Black Rock City in 2020,” the Burning Man website read. “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.

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“Yes, we are heartbroken. We know you are too. In 2020 we need human connection and Immediacy more than ever. But public health and the well-being of our participants, staff, and neighbors in Nevada are our highest priorities.”

Burning Man organizers went on to note that they will offer refunds to those who need it during this time, however, they are also offering the option to allow ticketholders to donate a portion or all of their ticket value to the Burning Man Project in order to ensure the organization stays operational for next year’s season.

Originally, the event was slated to take place over nine days from August 30 to September 7 in the northwestern Nevada desert. While festivalgoers will not be able to construct Black Rock City with one another — and show off eclectic costumes, art installations, and musical performances in-person — people will still be able to gather online.

“In the Multiverse, Black Rock City exists online, a virtual metropolis waiting for us to come Home,” the website states. “We can still build it together, and be together, and Burn together, only digitally instead of in the dust. On the virtual playa, there are no limits to who can join. So let’s do this together.”

Festivalgoers will be able to participate in live streamed dances, concerts, and art exhibits, as well as other forms of artistic training and yoga classes. Just because Burners aren’t gathering in-person, they’ll still keep the spirit alive virtually. More information regarding this year’s virtual event, including some type of ticket option, will be revealed in the coming months.

See our full, updating list of festivals cancelled or postponed due to coronavirus here.

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