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Burning Man’s playa will be chock full of animals

Oakland designer Tim Brenner will build The Man for 2023 in a creation called, "The Hive."
The Man for Burning Man 2023 will be part of a creation called "The Hive." | Courtesy Burning Man Project | Source: Courtesy Burning Man Project

Whether you’re a former Burner, a fan of Burners or packing your playa kit for 2023, it’s time to get ready for Burning Man. The gathering taking place from Aug. 27 to Sept. 4, 2023, and will attract 80,000 inhabitants to Black Rock City as it springs up from the desert near Gerlach, Nevada.

The incredible task of creating a city from scratch—and leaving no trace when the gathering ends—is a year-round endeavor for not only the San Francisco-based organizer, Burning Man Project, but for its many participants as well. 

An aerial view of Black Rock City from 2017 provides an idea of the scale of the Burning Man gathering. | Courtesy Scott London for Burning Man Project

The 2023 theme is “Animalia,” providing designers ample inspiration for wild and beastly organic creations.  And now, organizers are sharing a preview of the strange and striking art that will rise from the sand of the playa next month.

Scroll on for a preview of some of the thought-provoking designs on display for Burners this year and visit the website to learn more about Burning Man 2023.

The 2023 Theme: Animalia

“This coming year in Black Rock City, or wherever you burn, you are invited to bring your imaginary menagerie with you. Not flesh-and-blood animals, thank you very much, but the creatures of spirit that give you confidence and courage and that may express themselves in whatever art you choose to create. And, of course, to comport yourself like evolved humans, in the best sense of the word, with love and respect for our fellow creatures, great and small. Even that pesky playa chicken.” — Burning Man Project 

Tickets for Burning Man 2023 reflect the theme "Animalia." | Maryann Jones Thompson/The Standard

The 2023 Man Pavilion: The Hive

“Like a proper bee colony, we Burners all have our roles and exist in a beautifully designed place. This year, the theme lines up nicely with what we’ve always been: one big-ass dusty beehive of applied creativity.” — designed by Tim Bremner, Oakland

Oakland designer Tim Brenner will build The Man for 2023 in a creation called, "The Hive."
Oakland designer Tim Brenner will build The Man for 2023 in a creation called "The Hive." | Courtesy Burning Man Project | Source: Courtesy Burning Man Project

The 2023 Temple: Temple of the Heart 

“The Temple of the Heart is designed to look like an upside-down desert flower with a stem reaching up into the sky, serving as both a beacon as well as a sundial. It creates a feeling of being near a heart, wrapped in love for those who seek solace and respite. At night it will glow with soft, warm, welcoming light.” designed by Ela Madej with Reed Finlay

The artists' rendering shows the Burning Man 2023 Temple of the Heart by Ela Madej and Reed Finlay. | Courtesy Burning Man Project | Source: Courtesy Burning Man Project

Art Installations at Burning Man 2023

Below are the designs of artists who are preparing projects for the 2023 gathering and a bit of the inspiration behind their work. The group represents but a small sample of the dozens of installations that will be on display in Black Rock City, many of which are supported by grants from the Burning Man Project. Visit the website to see more fantastic art destined to dazzle Burners on the playa.

ATABEY’s Treasure

“'ATABEY’s Treasure' is represented as a fish leaping off the ground. She is the goddess of fresh water to the indigenous Taíno people in the Caribbean. Given the environmental challenges my Puerto Rico has experienced recently, we chose to honor her spirit.” — Nino, Puerto Rico

"ATABEY’s Treasure" is an art installation heading for Black Rock City in 2023. | Courtesy Burning Man Project

Desert Splash

“This is a public pool on the playa—a place for play and summer relaxation—or perhaps it’s just a mirage.” — Stanislav and Irina Shminke, Reno

"Desert Splash" will provide a place for Burners to swim on the playa in 2023—or will it? | Courtesy Burning Man Project | Source: Courtesy Burning Man Project

Honoring the Equine Spirit

“Horses have sacrificed for us and carried us physically as well as emotionally and continue to do so today. Horses hold our hearts within their own field when we are in their presence. May we hold them in return and may each holding of the heart be a prayer for a return of balance and diversity to the lands we all call home, and a restoration of freedom of sovereignty for the equine spirit.” — Amanda Allison Lila, Seattle

"Honoring the Equine Spirit" is an homage to horses that will be installed at Burning Man 2023. | Courtesy Burning Man Project


“Owls are often used as a symbol of wisdom because of their big eyes that can gaze into the darkness of night. ‘Hubowl’ expresses the importance of observation as a means to gain wisdom—it doesn’t matter if you observe the fantastic or the real, everything can build on wisdom in the observer's mind.” — Laboratorio Mexicano de Diseño, Mexico City

"Hubowl" will watch over the playa next month. | Courtesy Burning Man Project

Invisible Trojan Unicorn

“Given the challenge of getting tickets, we devised the easiest and cheapest way to get to Burning Man: Inside the 'Invisible Trojan Unicorn.'” — Invisible Pink Unicorns, Los Angeles

"The Invisible Trojan Unicorn" aims to help its designers get into Black Rock City in 2023. | Courtesy Burning Man Project


“‘Migrations’ is a migratory bird sculpture that seems to lift off the deep playa where it offers shade during the day and a light show at night. The installation contemplates the beauty and struggle of human and animal migration.” — Olivia Guethling and Mar Ricketts of Superwhelm, Portland, Oregon

"Migrations" will inhabit the deep playa next month at Burning Man 2023. | Courtesy Burning Man Project


“Resembling a plush toy with a pink exterior, ‘Mona’ serves as a symbol of love, warmth and childhood memories. The artwork aims to transport Burners into a whimsical world, reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland, where the rabbit guides them on a journey filled with hope, inclusiveness and freedom.” — Miao He, Shehong, China

"Mona" will keep Burners company on the playa during Burning Man 2023. | Courtesy Burning Man Project


“‘Tantra’ in Sanskrit means “weaving.” Much like a tapestry maker creates ornate designs by weaving threads through a loom, tantric practitioners are able to affect change in themselves and their environment by weaving their thoughts into the reality that surrounds them. Squids are also capable of using their thoughts to weave themselves into their environment. Through neural impulses, squids can control the shade of chromatophores in their skin to visually weave themselves into their surroundings as a form of camouflage. ‘Tantracles’ is a celebration of both tantra and the tentacled cephalopod!” — Lampe, Salt Lake City

"Tantracles" will light up nights on the playa at Burning Man 2023. | Courtesy Burning Man Project