AmberBurn 2021: Lithuanian Regional Shows Heart of Burning Man Community Is Still Beating Strong

AmberBurn is a locally organized Regional Burn in Lithuania that is run entirely by volunteers following the 10 Principles of Burning Man, and organized with the support and leadership of Erika Kiele and Regional Contact Povilas Germanavicius. Since November of 2020, over 30 committed Burners dedicated their time, sweat, and tears to creating this event and the subsequent magic it has provided.

A light at the end of the seemingly endless tunnel that was this past year, AmberBurn 2021 took place at Verksioniu quarry (north of Vilnius) in southeast Lithuania, over the weekend of July 8-11th. With the theme “New Normal” as their guide, 479 adults and 19 children from over 20 countries were in attendance. (*Attendance was capped at 500 people, and all COVID-19 precautions and regulations recommended and required by the Lithuanian government were strictly adhered to, in order to protect the health and safety of everyone involved. A European Green Pass—obtained via proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test result within the past 72 hours—was required for admittance to the event.)

“The energy in the air was filled with love, positive vibes, and genuine care for each other,” says Regional Contact and event co-lead Povilas Germanavicius. There were a total of 14 theme camps, five burnable effigies, and three art cars, including a huge rhinoceros, a flaming dirigible (airship), and an old-school firetruck.

AmberBurn city and raft at night, 2021 (Photo by May See)
Saulius Kreismonas & friend (Photo by Steve Petroski)

Ever since I participated in a Lithuanian wedding with the Lituanica Birds Camp in Black Rock City in 2015, I had wanted to visit Lithuania and spend more time with Saulius Kreismonas (pictured here) and his troop of merry Burners. Saulius is a talented human and photographer who, over the years —along with building and leading his Birds Camp — has helped many Lithuanians realize their dream of attending the Burning Man event in Black Rock City. 

While I was able to obtain an AmberBurn ticket in 2020, COVID-19 quarantine requirements kept me firmly planted at home, like so many others. Vaccination was my key to attending Lithuania’s Regional Event this year: AmberBurn 2021. While the event was formerly known as BalticBurn, the name was changed to represent the beautiful amber for which this area is known. 

One might find it hard to believe that three guys showing up from California, Arizona, and Greece with nothing but carry-on luggage could actually pull off a successful theme camp. But with the support of the AmberBurn crew, the Birds Camp, and a “sparkling wine” theme inspired by Le Petit Paris Camp at AfrikaBurn, we were able to host several fun events. 

I can’t say enough about the hard work and enthusiasm displayed by the Central Camp volunteers and participants from around the Baltic region that made this event an amazing success.

Daytime shot of Central Camp by Juste Lazdauskaite (Photo by Milda)
Central Camp at night (Photo by May See)

From the moment we stopped at the gate house to present our documents, I felt the long-overdue feeling of unconditional acceptance, love, and creativity before we even progressed to the Greeters. 

Take a virtual tour of the location of this year’s AmberBurn, prior to the build of the city, in this drone footage (shot and edited by Vaidas Zakarka):

Over the past few years, my artistic talents have been directed toward making animal headpieces using only man-made materials. Wearing the heads can be as challenging and consciousness-altering an experience as constructing them. (As you can see here, my favorite headpiece — “The Lion” — gained us instant rapport with the check-in crew.)

“The Lion” with AmberBurn check-in crew (Photo by Steve Petroski)
“The Lion” at night (Photo by May See)

“Due to the success of AmberBurn 2020, we were able to raise a substantial 5,500€ for art grants,” says volunteer Regional Contact and event co-lead Povilas. The creativity, art, camaraderie, and execution of ideas into action for a 500-person event was just astounding. Overall, Radical Self-expression was clearly visible in all the layers of the event, as people revealed their talents and inner beauty — what emerged was this immersive playground for everyone to be free to play! 

AmberBurn attendees playing with bubbles (Photo by Steve Petroski)
“Stranger from the Future” by Aleks Ziog, 2021 (Photo by May See)

It’s amazing how many aspects of the Burning Man experience were recreated amidst the delightful local variations and surprises this Burn had to offer. Can you imagine an 80-degree (27°C) lake out on the playa, offering up multiple baths per day, alongside floating art boats? 

Floating on the lake at sunset, 2021 (Photo by May See)

We were blessed with unusually warm weather, no appreciable rain, and cool nights with which to enjoy restful sleep. Bugs — some the size one might expect to see attacking a dinosaur — live in this forest and seemed to be attracted only to wet humans. Once dried off with some repellent applied, they weren’t an issue.

There was a strong Leave No Trace team on site that did a brilliant job in preparing a MOOP (Matter Out Of Place) plan that was shared with and embraced by the community at AmberBurn.

Burning “Maboard” by Martyna Skukauskaite, 2021 (Photo by May See)
“The Unknown” by Karolis Misevicius: pre-burn / ablaze (Photos by May See)
“The Infinite Bass” by Didzis Krumins: pre-burn / ablaze (Photos by May See)
“Giant Octopus” by Egle Bacianskaite (Photo by May See)

Burning of “Giant Octopus” by Egle Bacianskaite, Pyrotechnics by Povilas Germanavicius (Video by May See):

According to Povilas, one of the most beautiful Burner moments took place after “The Magic Temple,” made entirely out of hay, accidentally caught fire and was burned prematurely (yet handled safely) on the second day of the event: “A bunch of inspired and talented participants decided to rebuild the Magic Temple. A simple yet majestic new version was born in a few hours — it was a perfect example of using Communal Effort to solve a problem.”

“The Rebirth of Magic Temple” by Aurimas Barauskas & Andrius Rumsas, 2021 (Photo by May See)

Among other things, AmberBurn 2021 has proven that the resiliency and spirit of Burning Man, its vibrant community, and its international support of Regional Burns are alive and well.

Handwritten notes, messages, and offerings from AmberBurn attendees, 2021 (Photo by May See)
AmberBurn city at night, 2021 (Photo by May See)

Cover image of AmberBurn 2021 (Photo by May See)

About the author: Steve Petroski

Steve Petroski lives in La Jolla, California. A former Navy fighter and airline pilot, he first went to Burning Man at the invitation of some friends who helped prepare the runway and operate the airport. He has also attended four AfrikaBurns, located north of Capetown, South Africa.

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