At a Desert Festival, Costumed Campers Show Off Their Apocalypse Survival Skills

Because Burning Man was so 2012.

Glenn Francis/Wikimedia

In September, thousands of fantasy buffs filed into a valley in the desert to race tricked out cars, flaunt hand-crafted warrior costumes, and party in theme camps. No, this wasn’t Burning Man. It was Wasteland Weekend: An annual gathering in California’s Mojave Desert that claims to be the largest post-apocalyptic festival in the world. The event draws inspiration from the Mad Max film series and dystopic fantasy books and video games.

Jalopnik sent some journalists to cover this year’s event, and they came back with some truly surreal shots.

Reporter Anna Merlan details the festival’s “all-gender, gloriously weird swimsuit competition, an array of bands (most of them astonishingly bad metalcore and industrial acts), burlesque, fire-dancing,” and a “battle cage” whose participants face off with real steel weapons.

“Everyone may look scary,” aerial photographer Pavel Aubuchon-Mendoza told Nerdist back in 2015, “but Wastelanders are the kindest, most wonderful people you could ever meet.”

“Wasteland isn’t just a car show,” one participant told Merlan. “It’s a way of life year-round.”