Burning Man has dropped its relentlessly criticized lottery system, and will sell tickets to the 2013 event on a first-come, first-serve basis, the organization announced in a newsletter Friday.
Regular ticket information will be released Jan. 4, and purchasers will be required to pre-register in an attempt discourage scalping.
The annual arts and culture event, held annually in northern Nevada's Black Rock Desert, switched to a lottery system for this year's event after it sold out for the first time in 2011, with 53,000-something attendees at its highest capacity -- a violation of the Bureau of Land Management's special permit population cap of 50,000 for that year. This year, the BLM established a 60,000 cap, and the peak population was 56,149 during the festival, which was held Aug. 27-Sept. 3. Peak population indicates the greatest number of people that were there at any given time. It does not represent the total number of attendees, as people come and go throughout the week.
The lottery system was criticized by long-time Burners for excluding critical players that the festival depends on. If experienced artists, theme camps organizers and mutant vehicle owners were denied entry, it was feared the event would fall short of its past splendor and would instead be flooded with first-time attendees. Another worry was that tickets would be hoarded by scalpers. Early on, tickets appeared on websites such as Craigslist for as much as $5,000, but before the event dropped below face value. In 2012, tickets were sold based on lottery tiers that ranged from $290 to $390.
Burning Man ticket sales for the 2013 event will begin on Dec. 20. The organization opened a "holiday sale" registration forum Friday, and will continue to accept registrants through Dec. 19. Holiday tickets will be sold for $650 each.
"Holiday Sale tickets are priced dramatically higher than our regular tickets will be and Black Rock City, LLC will donate 3 percent of the price of each ticket sold during this early Holiday Sale to the Burning Man Project, a new nonprofit dedicated to spreading Burning Man culture around the world," stated The Jackrabbit Speaks, a regularly distributed Burning Man newsletter.