What makes Burning Man the commerce-free festival that costs a fortune to attend?

“Burning Man is not a festival. Burning Man is a community.”

So reads the official Burning Man website. At the end of every August, everyone from hippies to billionaires gather in the heart of Nevada’s Black Rock Desert, known as “the playa”, to partake in a global cultural movement based on 10 principles. The temporary community they form, of more than 70,000 people, is known as Black Rock City.

This year, Burning Man takes place from August 25 to September 2. The gathering is a commerce-free community once inside – instead of booking entertainment, it encourages participants to perform for one another free of charge. It also doesn’t sell goods.

But for attendees – who call themselves Burners – the cost of attending Burning Man can come to thousands of dollars between tickets, transport, accommodation, supplies, and costumes.

See how much it really costs to attend Burning Man.

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Revenue numbers for 2018 weren’t available, but Burning Man earned an estimated US$3.7 million in revenue, minus expenses, in 2017.

At Burning Man punters are encouraged to leave their mobile phones at home. Photo: Reuters

The cost of admission to Burning Man depends on when you buy tickets. Pre-sale tickets cost US$1,400, main sale tickets run for US$425, and late registration tickets cost US$550. Children aged 12 and under can attend for free.

A giant effigy is traditionally set aflame at Burning Man. Photo: Reuters

Burning Man also offers a low-income ticket programme – approved applicants can purchase tickets for US$210 each.

Collective harmony is the goal of Burning Man. Photo: Reuters

There are also transport costs. Bus tickets can average between US$75 to US$107, plus fees for luggage or bikes. Plane tickets can range from US$384 to US$1,195, depending on where you’re flying from. Some rich attendees even fly in on private planes, which can cost upwards of US$14,000.

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Vehicle passes cost US$100 for each car you drive in.

Sustainability is a tenet of Burning Man. Photo: Reuters

Many Burners fly into the Reno-Tahoe International Airport. Here, the cost of a rental car for the first four days of Burning Man costs anywhere from US$25 to US$58 a day at the time of writing.

Caveman chic at Burning Man. Photo: Reuters

However, some rental companies charge a US$100 to US$150 cleaning fee – since cars get dusty parked at the festival grounds.

There is no organised music at Burning Man – punters bring their own party. Photo: Reuters

For those looking to stay in a mobile home, CNBC estimates a 22-foot motor home to cost US$7,460 to rent for the week. One Burner said on a Quora forum a motor home rental cost them US$4,000 back in 2014.

Renting a mobile home to attend Burning Man can run to thousands. Photo: Business Insider

There are also the obligatory costumes worn by the party set. One Burner told CNBC she spent US$108 on costumes, which typically involve goggles, boots, and dust masks. On e-commerce website Etsy, attendees can grab light-up leg warmers for US$70 or tie-dye faux fur coats for US$350.

The overall cost of attending Burning Man varies greatly. CNBC estimated the total price could range from US$1,300 to camp in a tent to US$20,000 to “glamp” in a motor home. That also includes transport, food, camping fees, costumes, and gifts.

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Money meanwhile estimated a four-day trip to cost US$2,218. That includes US$227 for camping, US$360 for toys and camp decor, US$226 for survival supplies, US$318 for food and drinks, and US$1,087 to get there.

Attendees typically don outlandish costumes for Burning Man. Photo: Reuters

But it’s a little different if you’re a billionaire – some of Silicon Valley’s biggest names have attended. In 2014, a Bay Area venture capitalist created a festival within Black Rock City that featured air-conditioned tents, showers, Wi-fi, and attendants – for US$16,500 a week.

The ceremonial circle of Burning Man. Photo: Reuters

No matter who you are, once inside Burning Man, there are no prices as nothing is for sale – with the exception of coffee and ice – the latter of which costs US$3. Because Burning Man is based on a sharing community and is “commerce-free”.

Nothing is for sale at Burning Man – except ice, and coffee. Photo: Reuters

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This article originally appeared on Business Insider.

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