Had enough of the hum-drum festival? You know the kind: swigging a warm beer and munching on a cold sausage, you realize that you could be doing this at home. Sure, there are crowds and games and you’re ostensibly celebrating something… but the exact reason you’re there doesn’t immediately come to mind.
There is a better way. Constructing and racing a human-powered vehicle of your own design over land and water; learning about Scottish falconry and bagpipe making; playing a life-size game of chess; taunting a charging bull; staking out your own survival in the Nevada desert — this is the stuff of summer festivals you surely won’t forget.
Below, our Local Experts fill you in on 15 festivals that we think deliver the goods. They also detail how you can participate. Because nobody likes a fly on the wall.
1. Burning Man, Nevada Desert – August 29 to September 5
Burning Man may be one of the most misinterpreted celebrations in the world. To the outsider, this giant jubilee in the inhospitable Black Rock Desert is just about drugs, naked people wearing masks and goggles, and a huge sculpture of a man that burns to the ground. To a lifelong “burner,” this is a real community where attendees come to live in creative, self-built camps that engender self-expression.
Participation is key to the energy of the festival. Notice that someone needs help pitching their tent or shelter? Grab some gloves and give them a hand. Do you dance? Spin fire? Sing? Play an instrument? Perform to your heart’s desire! Take some time and make your camp a wonderful place to hang out. Talk to total strangers. Everyone you meet will become part of your Burning Man family.