From Burning Man to Woodstock to Fyre Festival: what turns a festival into a disaster?

The major problem for most festivals is not external shocks like rain, but poor planning, hubris and deficiencies in management.

This year’s Burning Man Festival in Nevada has been washed out and 70,000 attendees are stuck in the mud. Summer rains have hit its desert location and, as we regularly find in the Australian Outback, when fine and dusty desert soils get wet, they are like glue. Transport becomes near impossible.

A large number of people are temporarily stuck at Burning Man and there are issues with emergency vehicle access. While it’s been reported a man has died at the festival, organisers say it was ‘unrelated to the weather’. However, the problem is not flooding, but rather mud and not being able to move.

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