Josh Keppel / NBC Bay Area
A pair of tickets to the 2012 Burning Man Festival at the entrance to the event at the Black Rock Desert. Welcoming sign by Mad Dog and Ishka.
In a year that saw a first-time ticket lottery put in place by Burning Man Festival organizers to deal with the high ticket demand, what was once a huge scarcity of tickets has turned into a glut of extras for sale.
Early reports from the Black Rock Desert, the barren lake bed in Nevada 100 miles northeast of Reno, brought tales of extreme heat and more dusty conditions than participants had seen in years.
About that same time, tickets went from being nearly impossible to procure, to being readily available at face value. It almost seemed as if everyone had at least one friend selling an extra ticket or two.
This year’s once elusive tickets had been known to hover around $1,600 on the open market, but a strict “no scalping” policy within the community detoured selling the tickets for more than face value, which at the top price was $400 with fees.
Now, people are listing tickets for sale for half that, and still having trouble finding buyers. Right now, the Bay Area Craigslist ticket page shows 1,000 different postings offering tickets, many with multiple available.
Los Angeles’ Craigslist has almost 400 postings, Reno has 200, New York even has 100 listings of people looking to unload tickets.
What does this mean? Well, one might see the writing on the wall that there are simply more tickets for sale than people interested in going who are without tickets.
Burning Man is an event that requires “radical self-reliance,” and it takes days, weeks, and often, months of planning to head out to the desert for a week of revelry. At this point, people who were, or are, willing to put in what it takes to go to the event have probably already secured tickets.
So, one might see the writing on the wall that there are going to be thousands of tickets that go unused this year, which may put Burning Man organizers at ease somewhat considering the festival is on probation from the Bureau of Land Management for exceeding their permit population cap levels from 2011, a year that saw a population of more than 53,000.
This year’s population is allowed to be just almost 61,000, but some are speculating that it may end up having less people than in 2011.
Next year’s ticket sales may not be as robust at the onset, with people realizing now that stockpiling the precious tickets may later burn you.
So watch as the Saturday night burning of the Man nears, as tickets being offered go from full price, to half price, to no price.
Even at no charge, people may still not be able to find someone to use those extra tickets. We shall see.