In the wake of Matty Roberts’ pledge to invade Area 51 — a highly-classified military base long believed to be a secret alien holding site — going massively viral over the course of the past month, the extraterrestrial enthusiast is launching an alien-themed festival dubbed Alienstock that’s intended to take place in lieu of the raid. Roberts has said that he created the original event as an “entirely satirical” meme page, but with over 2 million Facebook users “going” and another 1.5 million “interested,” he decided to refocus his efforts on an initiative that’s less likely to draw attention from the U.S. Air Force.
Here’s everything we know about the Alienstock festival so far.
What is Alienstock?
According to its website, Alienstock is a “party in the desert” that will feature camping, music, art installations and surprise performances. Brock Daily, one of Roberts’ fellow organizers, told TIME that a lineup of mostly EDM performers will be announced in the coming weeks.
“They can’t stop us from gathering and celebrating aliens! This event is taking place whether we set up or not — it’s basically its own entity now,” the site reads. “We’re aiming to establish something unique here, a meeting place for all the believers. Come out to the desert to dive into a world full of live music, arts, and camping under the stars.”
The festival is meant to bring together people who are interested in the mystique surrounding Area 51 without encouraging them to attempt an illegal raid on a top-secret military installation.
“We encourage attendees to bring all of their essential needs — and we ask that everyone remember to fill up those gas tanks!” the site notes. “We’ll have the critical infrastructure set in place, we can’t wait to share this experience!”
Although several locals met with the Lincoln County board of commissioners on Aug. 19 to discuss ways to prevent Alienstock, the board ultimately issued the special permit for the festival. However, at the recommendation of the county sheriff’s department and emergency management office, it pre-declared a state of emergency for the weekend just in case. “We felt it was prudent,” Bevan Lister, the board of commissioners representative for the seat in nearby Pioche told TIME.
When is Alienstock?
Alienstock is set to take place the same weekend as the original event: Sept. 20-22. Early-birds are invited to arrive on Thursday, Sept. 19, a day that will be devoted to parking and organization. The festival will officially begin on Friday, Sept. 20 and end at noon on Sunday, Sept. 22.
“We’re doing everything in our power to establish an amazing experience,” the site reads. “You can expect a gathering that defines our current generation. From the new people you’ll meet, to the new music you’ll hear- this will be unforgettable!”
Where is Alienstock?
The Alienstock festival is set to take place in Rachel, Nev., the closest town to Area 51. Rachel, a town with an official population of just 98 people, is located about two hours outside of Las Vegas and sits near the midpoint of Nevada State Route 375, a.k.a. the Extraterrestrial Highway.
The Alienstock website claims that the festival has already secured the entire front portion of Rachel with the help of The Little A’LE’INN, the only hotel and restaurant in the town. However, the town’s website warns that Rachel is not prepared for an event of this caliber and that its residents will not allow their town to be taken over.
“If you plan on attending the event you must be experienced in camping, hiking and surviving in a harsh desert environment and have a vehicle in good shape. You must be prepared to be completely on your own for food, water, gas etc. We expect cell service and the internet in Rachel to be offline. Credit card processing will not work, so bring enough cash,” it reads. “A dubious group claiming a connection to chaotic events like Burning Man and the Las Vegas Electric Music Festival has taken over the Rachel part of this event. They threaten to ‘take over Rachel’ and claim that the residents are ‘on board.’ The residents were not asked and are not on board and will certainly not allow their town to be taken over.”
Some of Rachel’s residents also shared their personal objections with Alienstock with TIME. “The locals are not on board, nobody asked us, and we don’t appreciate anyone threatening to take over our town,” Joerg Arnu, who first bought property in Rachel in 2003 and runs the town website, told TIME. “I’ll do anything in my power to prevent this.”
“We have no fire department out here. If a fire started, there’s no way of putting it out,” Bob Clabaugh, a retired pilot who has lived in Rachel for more than two decades, added. “There’s just a lot of reasons not to have this many people here without a serious planned system set up for it.”
Even Connie West, who co-owns The Little A’LE’INN with her mother, Pat Travis, has expressed concern over how the event will play out. “I can’t wait until it’s over,” she said, adding that she shares the same misgivings as her fellow Rachel residents despite the fact that she’s cooperating with festival organizers to rent out parking spots on the land she owns surrounding the inn. “I’m just as terrified as they are. I live here too, and I’m just doing my best.”
How much are Alienstock tickets?
The Alienstock festival is free to the public but organizers are asking for donations to help pay for food and water, portable toilets, stages and music, staff, emergency services and security.
How have people responded to Alienstock?
Since Alienstock was officially announced on Friday, Aug. 9, over 10,000 people have clicked attending on the accompanying Facebook event while another 11,000 have said they are interested. Meanwhile, The Little A’LE’INN is already booked for the weekend. “We’re embracing it, that’s all we can do,” West told KVVU-TV.
-With reporting by Rachel Greenspan