A community is defined, largely, by its traditions. Black Rock City is a place rich in tradition, and participants looking to take an active role in the community have many choices before them. The Lamplighters have been an important part of Burning Man almost as long as Burning Man has been held in the desert. More than a public utility, the Lamplighters are a symbol of community, of participation, and clear sign that the day has passed, and that evening magic will soon be upon us.

The Lamplighters began in 1993, with a small group of participants placing a dozen or so kerosene lanterns on the ground each evening, illuminating a pathway towards The Man. In the intervening years, Black Rock City has grown, and while many things have changed, the Lamplighters remain, though few at the time could have imagined how the Lamplighters would develop, and rise to the challenge of an expanding city.

The Lamplighters are more than a handful of volunteers; they are a team of well over 100 participants every evening of the festival. And the dozen or so lanterns from 1993 have grown to nearly 1000. To accomplish this considerable task, we ask for your help, and we invite you to be a part of this community, this event, and our tradition. Before the event closes, after The Man burns, more than 1000 people will have helped the Lamplighters accomplish their important work.

The Lamplighters begin EVERY EVENING of the event in their center camp workspace at around 5pm. The ceremony begins around 6, and soon the work is done. No experience is required. We welcome virgin and seasoned burners alike. One thing is certain though. We can’t do it without YOU.

If you’d like to be a Lamplighter, please take the time to fill out the Volunteer Questionnaire, and be sure to mark ‘Lamplighters’ as the group with which you want to volunteer.

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Lamplighters FAQ

Q. I know the Lamplighters have several work meetings in San Francisco before Burning Man. I live in [any city anywhere in the world not near SF], and can’t make the meetings. Can I still be a Lamplighter?

A. Absolutely. The work meetings are attended by local and some not-so-local volunteers who represent a small percentage of the total number of folks we will need to pull off our job at the event. We do want you to try to attend, and usually there are a variety of Burning Man-related events to make it more enticing, but we certainly understand that everyone won’t be able to attend meetings. The most important aspect of our job takes place at the event. There will be plenty to do there.

Q. What do Lamplighters do?

A. Search for “lamplighters” in the website’s image gallery. We parade along the main pedestrian ways of Black Rock City every night hanging lanterns. Each night we need 150 volunteers to maintain and place nearly 1000 kerosene lanterns. We do everything involved in lighting the streets at night at Burning Man. If you’ve been to Burning Man before, you’ve seen our lanterns, and if you haven’t been to the event, suffice to say there are A LOT of lanterns. Lamplighting has been a part of Burning Man since 1993, a time-honored tradition.

Q. Do I have to sign up for a shift? (interesting question…greeters, rangers, and lots of other groups do have advance sign up)

A. No. Just be aware that we do Lamplighting before, after, and every day of Burning Man and we start around 5, or after the hot part of the day. When you arrive at Lamplighters Workspace, in center camp, there will be a daily sign up for which area of the city you go to, but you don’t have to sign up in advance. You are welcome to help us one night or many. We’ll take what you have to offer. If your theme camp is wanting to come light as a group please email us and tell us what day and about how many from your camp you think you’ll have so we can try to arrange your lighting together. (Note, Lamplighter Villagers are expected to light (most) every night they are at the burn.)

Q. What time do you start? Where?

A. We start around 5, at the Lamplighters Workspace in Center Camp. Look for the lanterns and the crowd.

Q. How long does it take?

A. The entire Lamplighting process takes around two to three hours. You will be done before it gets dark.

Q. Do I have to make my own robe?

A. No, we have robes and sashes for you to borrow and then please bring them back.

Q. What do I have to bring?

A. You don’t have to bring anything but yourself, but we love contributions of sharp scissors, turkey basters, and fancy BBQ lighters… even better if they constantly re-light themselves… those are the best.

Q. If I promise to work at Lamplighters, can I get a free ticket?

A. Nope. But what you’ll get in return will far exceed your expectations.

Q. Do I need to reserve a camp space?

A. Yes! Our camp has limited space and there is a maximum number of people we can fit into it. We begin reserving spots in our Village each spring. The Lamplighter Village is just off Center Camp so wherever you stay in the Village you are still right in the middle of Black Rock City. That’s an awesome place to be.

Q. What should I do when I get to Burning Man?

A. Find us on the map BEFORE you drive in. The Greeters and most of the people you come across will be able to help you find Center Camp and/or the Lamplighters. The location of Lamplighters Village and the Lamplighters Workspace are on the map of Black Rock City. When you find us in the city, come check in at the Lounge and we will walk with you around the Village and show you a number of places that would be good for your camp. Then RELAX. You’ve been driving for hours. Sit down, and think about where you want to camp. You may decide that you don’t want to camp with us. You’ve already seen what we have to offer. This is your experience, and it won’t hurt our feelings. After you’ve calmed down, set up your living space. Now acclimate, and remind yourself that this is where you decided to spend your vacation.