Friday, September 1, 2023 marks the 99th Burning of Zozobra!

Each year, Santa Fe's original burning man Zozobra, a 50-foot tall, storied marionette, is built anew. And each year he is stuffed with thousands of paper "glooms"––love letters, divorce papers, photos, speeding tickets, bad habits, hurt feelings––that 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 this annual Santa Fe tradition on Friday, September 1, 2023! If you can't be here in person, be sure to submit your glooms at Burn Zozobra to send them up in smoke with Old Man Gloom. Get excited to watch this magnificent pageantry by getting event details at Burn Zozobra.


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


Thank goodness the COVID-19 pandemic has ended! But we remain vigilant and look forward to employing our beloved-to-be-hated historic antidote for casting off any feelings of gloom, doom, and despair with any and all!

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 99 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, 2023's event will be an unforgettable experience for all who need release from worries and woes. Read more history here.

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. 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 recent COVID-19 pandemic offered 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 to join us as we free ourselves of 2023's gloom, fear, and anxiety and unite together in global community to renew the human spirit of hope and goodwill. 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!  

Get the lowdown on everything going on in The City Different! Order the Official Santa Fe Visitors Guide now or browse our deals and specials to help you plan your next trip to Santa Fe.