Buying Burning Man Tickets
In 2018, there were 70,000 tickets sold, divided as follows:
Pre-sale: 5,000 tickets at $990 and $1,200
Directed Group Sale: 30,000 tickets at $425. 15,000 vehicle passes
Main Sale: 26,000 tickets at $425. 10,000 vehicle passes available at $80
Additional $1200 tickets: Up to 3,000 tickets at $1,200
OMG Sale: 2,000 tickets at $425. 1,500 vehicle passes available at $80
Low Income: An additional 4,000 tickets are offered as part of the low income program at $190.
Your first method to get a ticket to Burning Man is to buy one directly through the org in one of the ticket sales described above. Here’s an article on strategies to get tickets during the main sale (scroll about half way down).
Everyone is going to tell you, Don't Panic, tickets will free up, you'll get one. Don't pay above face value!
That's what they told me... and they were right. I didn't get tickets via any of the sales, but I had tickets sold to me by a friend and had so many feelers out that I found tickets for some other friends as well. All changed hands at face value, although I did gift something to every person who parted with a ticket.
Here are other strategies to obtain a ticket to Burning Man:
Buy the $990 tickets. If you are willing to fork over an extra $500 above the standard ticket, you are going to be able to go without much stress. You can always re-sell those tickets at face value if you are able to get cheaper tickets elsewhere.
Join a camp with a ticket allocation. There are camps that are looking for members and have ticket allocations. Start reaching out to any camp that resonates with you and ask express interest and be upfront about your need for a ticket.
Note: International camps often are both in need of feet on the street in the US and have more tickets than they have demand for. Reach out to as many as you can, either with interest of joining (ideally!), or at a minimum with an offer to help out with logistics in the US. Camping with a camp of non-US people would likely be an interesting experience, and helping them move gear, do ground work before they arrive, etc., is a service that is needed. Reach out to enough of these camps, and you will get face value tickets, and help support a camp that has logistical issues and is contributing to the diverse experience that is Burning Man.
Get every friend o do the ticket lottery. If you get extra tickets, you have no problem getting them to deserving folk and your odds are pretty good if you have four people applying of getting at least one pair.
Watch eBay like a hawk for face value tickets. They are sold almost every day close to the burn. They will pop up as a Buy It Now, and be purchased almost immediately. So you need a bot or a motivated refresh finger to get one of these golden tickets.
Watch Craigslist for face value tickets. If you are in the bay area, they pop up now and then. Outside of San Francisco, it’s far less likely, but in Portland and Seattle a few pop up every year. Insist on getting full ID and contact information from the seller to ensure that the tickets are genuine, haven’t been declared lost or otherwise been cancelled. Any honest seller will happily provide this (they may not be willing to provide it until you are ready to hand over cash, to avoid you reporting their tickets to BM for cancellation). Pay via an electronic service, so you have extra protection if you need to go after a fraudulent seller.
Pay above face value, either on eBay or StubHub. A few thoughts on this. First, I believe that there is far less chance of fraud on eBay or StubHub than on Craigslist, and better recourse in both circumstances. StubHub offers an outright guarantee against fraud. eBay offers certain guarantees as well, but it’s a bit less helpful.
StubHub. StubHub tickets are generally more expensive than eBay, once you figure in the service charge. StubHub offers a full guaranty against fraudulent tickets: you will either (a) get replacement tickets or (b) get your money back. StubHub purchases tickets each year and has in the past replaced fraudulent tickets, at the gate, for at least one buyer I talked with at the event. However, StubHub is not free from risk. A common issue is that a seller sells tickets to you, you wait for delivery, and they fail to deliver. StubHub will give you a refund, and charge the seller a fee. The problem is that if you purchased your tickets in July, and then needed to replace them in mid-August, you may find that the tickets went from $900 to $1500. StubHub will not give any credit or refund in this situation.
eBay. eBay offers a guarantee against fraud. However, there are reports of ticket scammers sending an empty envelope to buyers, and eBay refusing to take any action against the seller. So if you do buy on eBay, make a video of you opening the envelope when it arrives, and carefully filming the tickets inside, including the numbers. If the tickets have been voided or are fraudulent, eBay
Other ideas to stay safe with aftermarket tickets:
Pay with tickets using Paypal, which since 2015 has provided some coverage against fraud for intangible goods. Specify that it’s a commercial transaction. Never agree to specify the Paypal transaction is a “gift”, which eliminates buyer protection. If someone asks you to do this, I would avoid the transaction entirely.
Read the Burning Man FAQ on buying tickets.
Buy your tickets before the OMG sale…. prices jump immediately after the sale.
2017 Ticket Prices on eBay and StubHub