Hotel near The Burning of Zozobra Festival

One of the great public rituals of Santa Fe—a quirky expression of the city’s cultural and artistic spirit—the Burning of Zozobra is most definitely something you want to experience at least once.

Meet Zozobra: “Old Man Gloom”

The tradition serves as part of the kickoff to the Fiestas de Santa Fe, a weeklong celebration established by the Spanish way back in 1712. (Yes, that’s right: This year’s Fiesta is the 305th!) Zozobra, aka Old Man Gloom, is a 50-foot-tall tuxedoed marionette (one of the world’s largest) with glowing eyes, oversize lips, and colorful hair who, the story goes, is conjured annually by “our own nefarious and woeful deeds throughout the year,” according to the ritual’s official website.

To vanquish Zozobra, the city invites him to its Fiesta and then—in one glorious cathartic release—an opposing force of good, the Fire Spirit, torches him to the razzle-dazzle of fireworks and the revelry of tens of thousands of onlookers.

Zozobra’s Beginnings

This year’s Burning of Zozobra, the 93rd, is the latest enactment of a tradition begun back in the 1920s, when Will Shuster of the local Cinco Pintores troupe introduced the ill-fated, misery-embodying demon to Fiestas de Santa Fe. Shuster was inspired by a similar ceremony of the Yaqui people of Mexico.

You can learn more about Zozobra’s creation and the evolution of the tradition at the official website and in this New Mexico History writeup.

Join Us for the 93rd Burning of Zozobra at La Posada de Santa Fe

Santa Fe’s ritualized good-vs.-evil confrontation always goes down come nightfall on the Friday before Labor Day, which this year falls September 1. And as a guest of ours at La Posada de Santa Fe, you couldn’t ask for more convenient accommodations to the fantastic spectacle: We’re less than a mile from the site of Old Man Doom’s fiery demise: Fort Marcy Park. Treat yourself to a first-rate meal at our on-site Julia restaurant, then head out to see Zozobra try (and fail) to cast his darkness over Santa Fe’s citizenry.

You can purchase General Admission tickets to the Burning of Zozobra for $10 or pay more for Premium Viewing; learn more here.

We hope you’ll consider marking the first of September with us here at La Posada de Santa Fe, the luxurious Art Hotel of New Mexico, and attending one of our venerable city’s defining traditions. You can’t help but be caught up in the drama of Zozobra’s intimidating reincarnation—and the infectious exultation when this symbol of grief and darkness goes up in happy flame. 

Back to Posts