IRL Apocalypse, Review

Wasteland Weekend VS Burning Man – What’s the Difference?

Wasteland Weekend versus Burning Man

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When it comes to the apocalypse, its post world has the ability to inspire many in creating big events that would make the Mad Max universe proud. From vehicles adorned with the craziest dirty and dangerous rigs, to your worn-out clothes and steampunk-inspired styles, there are many ways to go about celebrating a world after the end of most civilizations. Two of those events come to mind to most of us when we think post-apocalypse scenarios; Wasteland Weekend and Burning Man. But what is the difference between both of those? Let’s take a deep dive at the details and see which one you’d prefer being at, if not both.

Wasteland weekend
Wasteland Weekend

Wasteland Weekend VS Burning Man

Wasteland Weekend and Burning Man are like two awesome parties with totally different vibes. Wasteland Weekend is all about that post-apocalyptic, Mad Max-inspired scene, where everyone gets into character, and it feels like you’ve stepped into a gritty survivalist movie. On the flip side, Burning Man is this wild, week-long desert adventure where there are no rules. You’ve got crazy art installations, all kinds of music, and a culture that’s all about expressing yourself and being super generous. Wasteland Weekend is smaller and focused on its niche, while Burning Man is this massive, diverse shindig that draws folks from all over.

But let’s look at the many topics that sets them apart.

Theme and Location

Wasteland Weekend? It’s like stepping right into a Mad Max movie, my friend. People go all out with wild costumes, and it’s basically an epic, post-apocalyptic party where you can let loose in a dystopian wasteland setting. You’ve got folks getting super creative, doing some serious role-playing, and embracing that whole survivalist and Mad Max vibe.

Now, Burning Man, on the other hand, it’s a different kind of wild ride. There’s no specific theme, but picture this: you’re out in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada, and everywhere you look, there are these mind-blowing, temporary art pieces and structures. It’s like a surreal wonderland. At Burning Man, it’s all about self-expression and being part of this super cool, creative community. You can share your own unique flair and be part of something really special.

Burning Man
Burning Man event in Nevada

Size and Scale

Wasteland Weekend carves out a unique niche as an intimate and cozy gathering, drawing in individuals who have a genuine passion for the post-apocalyptic aesthetic. This more modest scale fosters a close-knit community of like-minded enthusiasts, where you can easily connect with fellow wastelanders who share your love for the rugged and dystopian.

In contrast, Burning Man takes the stage as a colossal, globally renowned event, attracting an immense and diverse crowd that converges from all corners of the world. This sheer scale of Burning Man transforms it into a sprawling and awe-inspiring phenomenon, where you can encounter an incredible array of perspectives and experiences on a grand scale.

Wasteland Weekend
Wasteland Weekend


Wasteland Weekend is more like a mini getaway, lasting around four days – just long enough for you to fully soak in the post-apocalyptic vibes, let loose, and have a blast with your fellow wasteland enthusiasts. It’s a super-sized weekend party in the wasteland.

Now, Burning Man, on the other hand, is a whole different beast. It’s not just a festival; it’s an epic adventure that spans an entire week. That’s seven full days of non-stop art, music, and community, including the awe-inspiring task of building and then dismantling an entire city in the middle of the desert. So, if you’re up for a longer, more immersive experience, Burning Man’s got you covered! It’s a week-long journey into a surreal world of creativity and self-expression.

Burning Man Structure
Burning Man Structure

Art and Music

At Wasteland Weekend, while there is music and art to enjoy, the true essence of the event lies in its immersive role-play and the chance to step into a post-apocalyptic world. Participants fully embrace their alter egos as they navigate this gritty, fictional realm, complete with Mad Max-inspired vehicles, raider factions, and dramatic storylines. The music and art that do exist within this setting often reflect the rugged, dystopian atmosphere, with live bands and DJs contributing to the overall ambiance. Art installations, though fewer in number compared to Burning Man, also take on a post-apocalyptic aesthetic, adding to the immersive experience by blending seamlessly with the wasteland backdrop.

Wasteland Weekend Vendors
Wasteland Weekend Vendors

Meanwhile, Burning Man is renowned for its jaw-dropping art installations that defy imagination. Throughout the vast desert playa, you’ll be able to see monumental sculptures, interactive installations, and mind-bending creations. These artworks come in all shapes and sizes, from colossal, fire-breathing sculptures to intricate, participatory pieces that engage attendees in various ways. Music at Burning Man is equally diverse and eclectic, with an abundance of stages featuring genres spanning from electronic dance music to live bands, jazz, and experimental sounds. It’s a musical journey that caters to a wide spectrum of tastes and keeps the desert alive with a constant, rhythmic pulse.

WhoMadeWho at Burning Man - Decoded Magazine
WhoMadeWho at Burning Man – Decoded Magazine

Tickets and Getting There

Wasteland Weekend often provides a more accessible ticketing process, with tickets generally available without the need for extensive advance planning. This means you can decide to attend relatively closer to the event date, making it more convenient for last-minute enthusiasts. Directions to Wasteland Weekend are also often straightforward, as it typically takes place in a specific location, allowing attendees to navigate there without the need for complicated desert preparation.

In contrast, Burning Man’s ticket acquisition can be considerably tougher due to its huge popularity, with a limited number of tickets available and high demand from people worldwide. Securing a ticket can be likened to a lottery, often requiring you to participate in a pre-sale or a main sale with no guarantee of success. Also, attending Burning Man necessitates thorough preparation, not just in terms of obtaining a ticket but also in planning for the challenging desert conditions. You’ll need to consider essentials like water, shelter, food, and appropriate clothing to ensure your safety and comfort in the harsh desert environment. Directions to Burning Man can also be complex, as the event’s location changes from year to year, and it’s located in a remote part of the Nevada desert, so navigation requires careful consideration of desert travel logistics.

Directions to Wasteland Weekend
Directions to Wasteland Weekend

In short, both Wasteland Weekend and Burning Man are epic in their own ways, but they cater to different tastes. Wasteland is all about post-apocalyptic role-play and a tight-knit community, while Burning Man is about self-expression, art, and a massive and diverse crowd.

Find out more on their respective websites: Burning Man and Wasteland Weekend.

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    Valerie Anne is a Type 1 diabetic, mother, tree-hugger, self-proclaimed granola who loves a good horror story through literature, video games, and movies. She also streams art over at

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