For 97 years, Santa Fe's original burning man Zozobra, a 50-foot tall, storied marionette, has been built anew. And each year he is stuffed with thousands of "glooms"––bad habits, hurt feelings, love letters, divorce papers, photos, speeding tickets––all placed on paper to go up in smoke when this New Mexico icon goes down in a highly orchestrated, flaming fury as we cheer on from below.

The show will go on in 2021—mark your calendars for its regularly scheduled burn on Friday, September 3! Zozobra will most definitely fall at Fort Marcy Park with an albeit smaller crowd in attendance on the grass (organizers are limiting to 10,000 ticket holders) and some necessary safety restrictions (proof of vaccination or a negative test). But if you would like to watch it from the comfort of your couch, you can tune in to watch the magnificent pageantry live on KOAT 7. More information at Burn Zozobra.

The Fire Dancer torches Zozobra! (Photo courtesy of The Burning of Will Shuster’s Zozobra)


What’s different in 2021? Everything, everywhere or everyone. That’s as true for Santa Fe as it is for every place in the world. But the City Different will share with anyone anywhere its historic antidote for casting off the feelings of gloom, doom, and despair of the continued pandemic.


Will Shuster (left) seen here with his artist friends and the head of Zozobra. (Photo courtesy of The Burning of Will Shuster’s Zozobra)

In 1924, Santa Fe artist Will Shuster first came up with a unique solution for dispelling the gloomy feelings of his artist pals––the original burning man, Zozobra. An eerie, 50-foot tall marionette embodies all the gloom that builds up annually from humankind’s ill will, bad habits, and misdeeds. For 97 years, his dark specter that wills the world to suffer has battled annually with an immortal foe, the Fire Spirit, who materializes from the collective goodwill and united spirit of all who yearn for a better world. In 1964, Will Shuster passed the reins of this one-of-a-kind pageant to the Kiwanis Club of Santa Fe, the keepers of Zozobra’s flame, and 2021's event will be an unforgettable experience for all who need release from worries and woes.

In a typical year, more than 60,000 people gather from all 50 states and 21 countries to be liberated from their gloom and negativity by placing written notes and documents into Zozobra to go up in smoke in a spellbinding, transformative spectacle. This year, the organizers are limiting ticket sales to 10,000 to allow for some distancing. For locals, the burning of Zozobra is Santa Fe’s New Year—a time when personal faults and failings are symbolically burned away and joy and unity offer a chance to begin anew.

This iconic tradition has endured through war, depression, drought, and decades of social and cultural upheaval. Zozobra was born shortly after the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918, and the synchronicity of the continued pandemic offers all the more reason to enact this cherished community ritual.


Zozobra and his pre-burn glory in the 1940s on location in Fort Marcy Park (Photo courtesy of The Burning of Will Shuster's Zozobra)

Santa Fe welcomes you as we free ourselves of 2021's gloom, fear, and anxiety and unite together in global community to renew the human spirit of hope and goodwill and pass through to a brighter time. It is strongly urged that you visit Burn Zozobra in advance of making your plans. There are plenty of ways to participate without attending the actual event!  

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