Burning Man, the legendary festival in Nevada's Black Rock Desert, starts up Sunday night. But the festival in 2016 looks very different from Burning Man 1986, the year the whole thing began in San Francisco.

The 2016 event, which runs through Sept. 6, is expected to draw some 75,000. The first ever Burning Nan was much smaller with about 20 people in attendance on a beach in California's Bay Area. 

"Larry Harvey and his friend Jerry James knock together an improvised wooden figure and drag it down to Baker beach on the Summer Solstice," describes the festival on its site. "They light it up, and a curious crowd gathers to watch it burn. And so it began."

That initial fire ceremony grew and exploded into an art and free-expression festival that draws thousands. By 1990, it had grown unruly and popular enough that the event had to move from San Francisco, some 350 people heading out to the desert instead. Keeping with the tradition of the humble beginnings, the festival still culminates with the burning of a massive effigy. 

But there's more than just the big burn at Burning Man. There are massive and immersive art installations, dance parties, intricate costumes and just about anything else one can imagine. As the festival's website puts it, "once a year, tens of thousands of people gather in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert to create Black Rock City, a temporary metropolis dedicated to community, art, self-expression, and self-reliance. In this crucible of creativity, all are welcome."

With time that creative atmosphere has led to more and more ambitious projects. Among the creative projects this year are "crowdfunded constructions like the 17,000-square-foot Catacomb of Veils ... the now-traditional Temple, which this year will be 100-feet tall. Or the giant Space Whale. ... Yeah, you read that right. A giant Space Whale," wrote Mashable

Here are some photos of previous Burning Man festivals, which typically provide spectacular images. 

burning man Participants gather at Medusa Madness during the Burning Man 2015 "Carnival of Mirrors" arts and music festival in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada, Sept. 6, 2015. Photo: Reuters/Jim Urquhart

Burning Man 2013 aerial An aerial view of the Burning Man 2013 arts and music festival is seen in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada, Aug. 29, 2013. This year's festival begins Aug. 30, 2015. Photo: REUTERS/Jim Urquhart

Burning Man 2013 The Man burns during the Burning Man 2013 arts and music festival in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada, Aug. 31, 2013. Photo: Reuters

Burning Man 2013 Pippin, his Playa name, is shown purportedly chatting on the phone with God during the Burning Man 2013 festival in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada, Sept. 1, 2013. Photo: REUTERS/Jim Urquhart

Burning Man 2013 Jed Vassallo (L) and Erin Bohlmann cheer as the Man burns during the Burning Man 2013 arts and music festival in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada, August 31, 2013. Photo: Reuters

Burning Man 2013 A participant bicycles away from the effigy of the Man (R, top) at the 2013 Burning Man arts and music festival in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada, August 29, 2013. Photo: Reuters

Burning man Burning man celebration. Photo: Reuters

burning man dancer A participant dances on the Playa during the Burning Man 2015 "Carnival of Mirrors" arts and music festival in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada Sep. 5, 2015. Photo: Reuters/Jim Urquhart