Comparison: Peak Populations in 2012 and 2013

Each year, Burning Man draws more and more attention. As a result, Black Rock City has seen a drastic increase in attendance almost every year. As shown below, the increase in attendees from 2012 to 2013 was nearly 24%, over thirteen thousand more Playa inhabitants from one year to the next! 


Though I have no doubt every Burner would love to arrive on day one and plant roots in the dust until they’re forcefully booted, many times Burners’ default lives prevent such a long excursion. The vast majority of arrivals occur on Sunday and Monday, slowly diminishing through Friday, with a few lagging far behind and coming in on Saturday. Departures begin ramping up on Friday, with a larger occurrence on Saturday, but then jump to peak immediately on Sunday, continuing through Monday, during what is referred to as “exodus.” In 2012, more people left on Monday than on Sunday, and the reverse was true in 2013. I’m curious to see what 2014 brings and if that ratio will become a trend or if we will even see an increase in “early” departures.


Now that we’ve looked at how many people are coming to Burning Man and how long they are staying, let’s take a peek at how they are arriving. Are people ride sharing, picking up passengers, or loading their cars full of food and sparkly things instead people? 


Our data shows that the vast majority of folks are carting in only themselves and a bestie; this is true for both 2012 (blue) and 2013 (pink). Chances are they needed the space for their evaporation equipment, their yurt, and their costume closets – don’t judge – a Nissan Cube only has so much space! My most favorite fact in this graph is that 1,686 people came through the gates in a vehicle carrying 20 or more humans. Hats off to you all and your busloads!

Written by: Wendi Corbin Goulette
Edited by: Tabicat


3 responses

  1. Hey, thanks for the awesome posts and all your work. I am completing my Masters Thesis on a micro-climate study we conducted in 2013. Would you be willing to share your raw data? Specifically, I’d like your estimates of vehicles and people by day.


  2. One thought: I noticed in the 2012 data the your survey’s income question capped out at 100k+ (which 20% reported earning). Might be nice to have more fine-grained data at the high-end of the income distribution — would provide useful context (or counter-evidence) for claims about the rise of wealth at the event.

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