Apogaea (meaning "far from Earth") is an annual collaborative outdoor arts and music festival held as a Colorado regional counterpart for the Burning Man event. Typically held in late spring (held June 4–8 in 2014) in the mountains of Colorado, Apogaea ("Apo"), establishes a temporary autonomous zone where radical self-expression, inclusiveness, and self-reliance are the hallmarks of its participants.
Like the Burning Man event, Apogaea includes art installations, performance art, DJ-music, live music, camps, and theme camps. Apogaea has a Creative Grants program that provides financial assistance for artists wanting to create visual art, performances or events, workshops, art vehicles, or theme camps for Apogaea; this grant cycle generally begins in January. In past years, nearly 50% of Apogaea's operating budget was given out as creative grants. In 2009 a second grant cycle (the "Bonus Round") was added to allow projects that didn't need as much time or money to complete to receive grants. As of 2014, Apogaea is the most art-centric of North American Regionals with art grants for 2014 totaling $50,000.
Theme camps at Apogaea have included the cowboy-themed Dome on the Range, the hillbilly-themed Smokin' Bones BBQ and Blues, the cat-themed Purrfectly Pink Pussie Palace, the Green Screen Project, Hula Hideaway, Xpat Alien and The Lair of the TWRG. Like many Burning Man-inspired events, fire art plays a large part, and includes performance art, such as fire dancing, as well as stationary art that incorporates propane or wood fires. Apogaea has generally had a central "effigy" that burns on the Saturday night of the event. However, all fire at Apogaea is subject to local or regional fire bans in dry or dangerous conditions; Apogaea 2006 and 2012 were under such a ban and had limited propane fire art and no effigy burn.
Effigies at Apogaea:
2004: no effigy
2006: Phoenix (not burned due to fire ban)
2010: Communigy (integrating pieces created by individual community members)
2011: Cocoon and Butterfly
2012: Blossom (not burned due to fire ban)
2014: Throne of the Emergent Multitude
2015: Syzygy: The Library Angel
Temples at Apogaea:
2011: Temple of Moon
2013: Temple of Transubstantiation
2014: Temple of Infinite Life
2015: Temple of Resonance
Themes for Apogaea:
No themes prior to the 2008 event.
2008: Smells like Community Spirit
2009: Organized Chaos
2010: Artropolis ("Hailogaea" became the unofficial theme for the event after a hail filled weekend)
2012: The Spiral
Apogaea is organized and run by an unpaid Board of Directors and a wider circle of volunteer leads ("Apogaea Ignition") in areas such as Art, Safety, Operations, Communications, Administration, Outreach, and Volunteers.
From 2008 to 2012, Apogaea ran from Thursday noon to dusk Sunday. Starting in 2013, Apo expanded to run from Wednesday through Sunday evening. Ticket prices were increased in 2014 from $100 to $115 online with no gate sales, making Apogaea the most expensive Regional ticket in North America. 2011 was the first year that a sales cap was in place and the event sold out in mid-May. Due to its growing popularity, tickets for the event sold out in under four hours in 2012, spawning an alternate event named "Neoformia" held during the same time as Apogaea and located at Apogaea's previous location at the Happy Ass Ranch. Attendance for 2014 was capped at approximately 2,100 attendees,then in 2015 attendance was set to 2,300.
Apogaea is an all-ages event, though minors must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian, and those under 21 are given a different color wristband. Past attendees have organized kid-friendly camping areas with planned activities for children.
There are generally no free tickets given out (e.g., for volunteers, artists, or musicians), because of the philosophy that everyone attending is expected to contribute something to the event—whether it's their volunteer work, their participation, their camp, art, costumes, performance, or creativity—and Apogaea is not in a position to judge or value the merits of one person's contribution, creativity, or time over another's.
Apogaea is generally held in early June, in an attempt to hold the event late enough in the spring that it's not freezing at night that high in the mountains, yet early enough to avoid dry-season fire bans or restrictions. For 2014, Apogaea was held during the days of June 4–8.
All state and local fire-bans are strictly observed and Apogaea's volunteer leads work with county officials to implement safe and reasonable alternatives during fire bans. Any participant wishing to use fire in art, camp, or performance pieces is subject to fire-safety restrictions and is assisted and monitored by a team of volunteers trained in fire safety. In 2012, the main effigy was not burned due to a fire ban, but officials and volunteers arranged a fire parade instead. Propane flame effects were allowed as were propane burn barrels with the usual safety precautions taken.