Every year, a city of 70,000 people rises up in the remote Nevada desert for a week-long celebration of human creativity and self-expression, before vanishing back into the dust. Many participants say their experiences at the Burning Man festival have transformed their lives. But what makes Burning Man so compelling that people return to this harsh environment year after year? In 2014, a team from Burning Man, working in collaboration with Adaptive Path, set out to find out. In this talk, Burning Man Director of Communications Megan Miller and Adaptive Path Chief Creative Officer Jesse James Garrett share the insights they discovered, and their implications beyond the festival for experience design and for society.