Relentless rain has put an end to revelry at this year's Burning Man festival before it could even begin.

The annual free-spirited event takes place in Nevada's vast Black Rock Desert, but freak weather on Monday morning soon turned the seven square mile site into a nightmarish swamp.

Upwards of 70,000 festival goers are being turned away after organisers were forced to close the gates.

An official statement from the festival read: "Black Rock City has shut down following rainstorms that left standing water on the playa, leaving it undrivable."


Ticket holders, some of whom have paid more than $1,000 on black market passes, are hoping to return on Tuesday morning to start enjoying the week-long arts extravaganza.

Burning Man and the roads leading to it reopen 6 a.m. Tuesday.


The several hundred people who arrived on Sunday and are already set up in tents are allowed to remain on site, but anyone who came for the 10am opening yesterday has been sent home.

Many of those unable to access the site have bought camping permits for the nearby Pyramid Lake while they wait for the water to dry up.

Reports suggest that park rangers at the lake had to tell dozens of new arrivals to put their clothes on after they got naked as nudity is allowed at Burning Man.

The counterculture festival has grown hugely since it began on a San Francisco beach in 1986.

It was founded on "the spirit of community, art, self-expression and self-reliance", but has become more of a status symbol for tech entrepreneurs in recent years, angering "burners" who have been attending since the start.

- Independent