Lighting the structure Lighting the structure As part of the Burning Man ritual, festivalgoers build and then burn wooden structures. (All photos: Maria Naiman/Flickr)

5 days of art, community and self-expression

Israel's version of Burning Man attracts 3,000 participants to the Negev desert.

In the middle of the Negev desert, at the beginning of summer, nearly 3,000 attendees set up and burnt down giant wooden sculptures. Called Midburn, this Israeli version of the Burning Man festival took place over the course of five days in June -- and attracted all sorts of characters for a truly intriguing display.

Couple snuggles at MidburnA couple snuggles in the evening light in the Negev.

The original Burning Man festival takes place every year in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada. The "mid" in Midburn comes from the Hebrew word for desert, "midbar." This year's Midburn festival is the first of its kind in Israel. 

Group of young adults at MidburnWhether you're donning pajamas or face paint, all are welcome at Midburn.

Attendees spent five days building a mini-society dedicated to art, community and self-expression. The community was made possible by Israel's department of tourism. 

Couple at MidburnMembers of the Midburn community snuggle up as the temperature drops in the Negev.

The Burning Man festivals are centered around 10 principles set by founder Larry Harvey: radical inclusion, communal effort, gifting, civic responsibility, decommodification, leaving no trace, radical self-reliance, participation, radical self-expression and immediacy. In short: everyone is welcome, everyone should work with each other and give to one another, participate in a civil way and with minimal impact on the environment and ultimately look inward to create personal and transformative individual experiences.

Pitching in at MidburnIn line with the community spirit, one attendee pitches in.

Contrary to most communal festivals that have gained popularity over the last decade, organizers say that Midburn is "more of a city than a festival." Only this city is unlike any typical modern city: it's based entirely on gifting. Each person brings their own food, water and supplies and shares freely with others. The only thing made available to purchase was ice.

Couple watching flamesA couple looks on as the hand-built structures burn to the ground at the end of the festival.

By day, participants could catch a performance or join in on one of many workshops. By night, they burned wooden sculptures. And when all was said and done, they erased their ecological footprints with nothing remaining in the desert but the sand that was there before they arrived.

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