Dates: 14th - 18th May 2018
Location: Negev, Israel
Known as “Israel’s Burning Man”, this five day festival in the Negev Desert is a blaze of creativity, art and radical self expression in a happy setting of communal living. Their first edition was in 2014 – next year will be their fifth birthday. Despite being relatively new, they are already immensely popular – they had a record 10,500 attendees in 2017.
When the Burning Man regional network was started in 2004, Larry Harvey (founder) wrote the ten principles on which any offshoots should be based. These, he declared, were not rules for how “people should be and act, but as a reflection of the community’s ethos and culture as it had organically developed since the event’s inception”.
In a nutshell, these principles state that all people are included in the festival, no matter who they are, or where they come from. They must, though, all work together in the spirit of community, and share a culture of “gifting” so everyone can get by – no money is allowed on the playa. Organisers and attendees alike must behave according to civic responsibility, and take their duties seriously. They must all resist the danger of commercialisation, and so foster an attitude of “decommodification” – no commercial sponsorships or advertisements. Leaving no trace is another vital part of their mindset – the environment is a paramount concern to all. Radical self reliance is both an example to others and a lesson to oneself, whilst participating encourages the all important sense of community whilst being a catalyst for self awareness and learning. Radical self expression, of course, is another crucial element – but should be offered as a gift and the recipients rights and liberties respected. Finally – and what may be the most important principle – immediacy. This is when people “seek to overcome barriers that stand between us and a recognition of our inner selves, the reality of those around us, participation in society, and contact with a natural world exceeding human powers.”
Rather than a music festival, this is an affair of art and expression, of creativity rather than consumption. There aren’t any music stages per se, but people come and lay bare a myriad of beautiful looks, beliefs, approaches and revel in the spirit of inclusion that binds them all together. For many, these five days are more than just a party – they are nourishment to the soul.
The art installations at Midburn are naturally phenomenal. Like Burning Man, people stay in ‘barrios’ or theme camps that are mostly arranged beforehand, and each may have something special to offer. Every individual, dressed as they are in unique and imaginative outfits, offer installations in themselves. And indeed, as the organisers themselves proclaim – more than anything else it’s the guests who make the event what it is.
While there’s no glamping at a festival like this, we would – as always – remind you to make sorting your accommodation a priority. Especially in a place as harsh as a desert – it’s important to know you have somewhere with quiet and shade to go back to when you need to reboot.