Burning Man in Europe: Where the Sheep Sleep

You’d have to be hiding under a rock not to know what the legendary Burning Man Festival in Nevada was all about, but if you don’t then let me try and explain – it’s not easy to put this unique event into words, but essentially Burning Man is a temporary metropolis dedicated to music, art and self-expression held in a vast desert populated by extremely open-minded individuals. Sound appealing? Well you might be pleased to hear that Burning Man is now making its way to Europe! It will take place over three days and the festival organisers are giving it a new name: Where the Sheep Sleep. Read on to find out more and discover how you can get amongst the madness.

Why the change of name?

A couple of years ago, a group of Dutch ‘burners’ approached the organisers of Burning Man about bringing the festival to the Netherlands, but they wanted to give the event its own unique flavour and this meant giving it a different name, one which is true to the context of the festival.

When and where will it be held?

Where the Sheep Sleep is taking place this year from July 29th to 31st, but unfortunately this event has already sold out, so you’ll have to get tickets for next year instead! It’s going to be held on a nature reserve in Veluwe, a glorious stretch of fields, lakes and forests, where I’m guessing you might catch a glimpse of a sheep or two…

Below is a map illustration demonstrating what the site will look like.

Burning Man site map

How will it differ to Burning Man in Nevada?

There are Burning Man events all over the world, such as Flipside in Texas, which is the longest-running and AfrikaBurn, the largest. A few years ago, I went to the first Burning Man event in Argentina, which I hear is becoming increasingly more popular, as are the events held in Israel and Japan.

Burning Man in Argentina

Aurora Festival: Argentina’s first Burning Man event

What’s different about Where the Sheep Sleep is that these Dutch burners have actually set up an affiliate of Burning Man called Burning Man Netherlands, a non-profit organisation that aims to extend the culture and core principles of Burning Man into a larger world.

Burning Man Netherlands will attempt to create the same temporary metropolis, where everything is based on participation and involvement, but Where the Sheep Sleep will obviously be much smaller scale than the legendary festival in Nevada, with just a thousand people estimated to attend next year. Still, I have no doubt it will be truly spectacular in its own way.

How do I get involved?

First of all, you need to register through the Burning Man Netherlands Facebook group, then you must apply for Event Membership, a yearly membership that is required to gain access to the festival. You will then be notified via email when ticket sales go online.

What should I take?

As well as your usual festival survival kit, I would advise packing the following:

Binoculars – Veluwe is one of the best places in the Netherlands to see wildlife, so it helps to have a decent pair of binoculars.
A camera to capture the beauty of the festival (and the madness).
Cycling gear and helmet – more than 1,700 of the country’s famous White Bikes can be found at the park and are free to use so if you fancy cycling here, be sure to bring all the correct kit.
A pair of walking boots or trainers to wear on a morning hike (if you’re not feeling too rough from the previous night).
Sunglasses and hat, as it is summer after all.
Crazy fancy dress – you couldn’t possibly attend a Burning Man event without at least one outrageous costume!
Loose clothing. Comfort comes first.
Plastic cups, bowls and cutlery, as well as a shedload of bin bags to put them in once you’re done with them. Burning Man festivals are LNT events (Leave No Trace) so it’s crucial that you clean up after yourselves.
An LED head torch to wear around the festival site at night and anything that glows in the dark, as it will get pretty dam dark here once the sun’s gone down.
Gifts – Burning Man festivals survive on contributions to and from the community.

More information

Other than dates for this year, location and details of how to sign up, not much information has been released, but the Dutch burner community have revealed that they’re planning some pretty major activities in four program areas: Arts, Culture, Civic Involvement and Education. You can read more about each program area here.

In terms of the music, Dutch DJ De Kunstenaar has taken it upon himself to create three mixes that reflect the sound of Where the Sheep Sleep, which you can download for free. Click on the links below to get your hands on each mix.


Hope to see you all at Where the Sheep Sleep 2017!

Written by: Milly Day

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