Burning Man, the annual festival held in the Nevada desert, has announced that it is to go virtual for 2020.

Due to take place from August 30 until September 7, Burning Man will now take place online – a Virtual Black Rock city 2020 will be created instead, under the theme The Multiverse.

In a statement, the organiser said: “After much listening, discussion, and careful consideration, we have made the difficult decision not to build Black Rock City in 2020. 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. 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 neighbours in Nevada are our highest priorities.

“We’re committed to providing refunds to those who need them, but we’re also committed to keeping Burning Man culture alive and thriving, and to ensuring our organisation stays operational into next year’s event season — which will require substantial staff layoffs, pay reductions, and other belt-tightening measures. Burning Man Project’s survival is going to depend on ingenuity and generosity. Luckily, our community is rich in both.

“Financial challenges aside, we are optimistic about Burning Man’s future and what The Multiverse will reveal in the year ahead: a chance to explore new ways of connecting and convening online, deepen our commitment to environmental sustainability, realign our partnership with the Bureau of Land Management, and create new and meaningful pathways for the community to connect and collaborate, especially during the coronavirus (COVID-19).”

Image: Burning Man/Andrew Wyatt