For 98 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 paper "glooms"––love letters, divorce papers, photos, speeding tickets, bad habits, hurt feelings––to go up in smoke (and disappear from our lives) when this New Mexico icon goes down in a highly orchestrated, flaming fury as we cheer on from below.

Mark your calendars for its regularly scheduled burn in 2022 on Friday, September 2! Zozobra will most definitely fall at Fort Marcy Park. (At the moment, no COVID-19 health restrictions are in place, but if federal and state public health orders change, organizers will respond accordingly.) 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-ABC. More information at Burn Zozobra.

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


What’s different in 2022? Everyone, everything, everywhere. 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 the 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 created 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 98 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. As with all of the years that came before, 2022's event will be an unforgettable experience for all who need release from worries and woes.

More than 60,000 people gather from all 50 states and 21 countries for liberation from their gloom and negativity. Their expressive written notes and heartbreaking documents are stuffed into Zozobra to go up in smoke in a spellbinding, transformative spectacle. Due to the pandemic, this year, 2022, will represent the first "normal" Zozobra orchestration since 2019, so there's likely a lot of in-person gloom to release. 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 revel around enacting this cherished community ritual with enthusiasm.


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 2022'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. Visit Burn Zozobra in advance of making your plans to buy tickets, review a map, buy some merchandise. There are plenty of ways to participate without attending the actual event, but we hope the Burning of Zozobra becomes one of your annual traditions!  

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