When to party; when to rest

Burning Man is a 24 hour-a-day festival, with activities from early morning to very, very late night.  There’s no way to do it all, and that’s especially true for those of us more mature Burners.  We have to conserve our energy.  For those of you who have attended Burning Man in the past, most of this advice will come as no surprise.  But our site is mainly intended for new Burners who do not have the benefit of long experience.

While everyone is different in how they deal with the heat of the desert, I personally find it better to explore Burning Man during the cooler parts of the day, and rest when it’s too hot to enjoy yourself.  Early morning is a great time for touring the Playa, seeing artwork and planning your evening.  Not only is it cool in the early morning, but there also aren’t that many people out and about.  Remember your cup and even a paper or plastic plate and utensils because there are a number of possible breakfast stops for the early riser.  Several pancake camps are open early with their delicious fare.  If you’re early enough, there won’t be a line.  Of course, it’s all gifted to you.

There’s nothing quite like a Playa sunrise, which is another reason to be up and about early in the morning.  The fact is, you’ll practically have the Playa to yourself if you’re up early.

While you’re out in the cooler part of the day bring your activities brochure with you so you can search for places you might want to visit later.  Get used to the layout (is 9 o’clock to my right or to my left?) and identify the precise locations of camps and events you want to visit.  Remember, not everything is happening on the Esplanade.

In my personal experience, mid-day is the best time to rest up.  It’s as hot and uncomfortable as the desert gets during this time, and you’re more likely to suffer heat exhaustion and dehydration.  Save up your energy for nighttime when the action really gets going and the temperatures moderate.

But you should also keep in mind that nights can be very cool, so you should be prepared to dress in warmer clothing once the sun has set.  Staying in your lightweight, daytime dress at night can result in serious exposure problems and a possible visit to the medical tent.  Nighttime is also the time when people come out in their Playa finery – the costumes they worked on all year.  It’s great to have a costume or two, but not necessary – especially for your first year.  Just remember that nights are very dark on the Playa and you’ll need lights on your person and your bikes.  More about lighting yourself up in a future article.

Lights from a party art car

Night is also the time for big parties with plenty of music and dancing.  If that’s what you’re looking for, then sample a few places and find the style that suits you.  There are also plenty of musical art cars with parties and lots of dancing on board.  Nighttime is party time at Burning Man.