It’s the end of the summer, meaning it’s time for New Mexico’s own “burning man” tradition, this Friday, Aug. 31 at Marcy Park in Santa Fe.

For anyone from out of state — the burning of Zozobra (the 50-foot tall figure is affectionately named “Old Man Gloom”) is a Santa Fe tradition, stretching back for 94 years.

The word “zozobra” has a few different meanings in Spanish, translated as “ruin,” “anxiety,” and “sinking” in different contexts.

According to their site, Old Man Gloom is stuffed with papers collected from the community (mortgages, divorce papers and other tearjerkers) wrapped in linen, that is then burned to “see bad luck, sorrows and unhappiness go up in smoke.”

The tradition started in 1924 as a private-party event of local artist Will Shuster , along with artist friends that burned a six-foot effigy in his backyard. Shuster later said he was inspired by Holy Week celebrations of Yaqui Indians in Mexico and the tradition of burning Judas in effigy.

Two years later, it became a public (and larger) spectacle. According to official Zozobra lore, Shuster oversaw construction of the figure until 1964, when he handed over responsibility to the Kiwanis Club of Santa Fe, who continue to operate it.

The burning kicks off the Fiestas de Santa Fe, a weekend-long celebration in the Plaza, before Labor Day.

Here’s all the information that you need about Zozobra:


Doors open at 4 p.m. Friday, Aug. 31 and the burning will start at 9:33 p.m. if weather permits.

Entertainers include the explorative Dream Noise as opener, local Folklorico Dancers and others.


(ONLINE) To see everything about tickets, click here.

There are three options for tickets:

  • General Admission (at door and online) is $10 per person, the event is free for children under 10.
  • If you want to skip the line you can pay $20 for an Express Pass.
  • Premium Viewing prices vary.

When purchasing above tickets, you have the option of buying a discounted Rail Runner pass to take the train in either direction.

General Admission tickets are available for purchase until 9:30 p.m.

Proceeds go to the Santa Fe Kiwanis club, and are used to provide scholarships and other community services.


It’s Santa Fe, so parking is limited.

The Rail Runner will be running extended hours for the event.

A note about trains: inbound Rail Runner will drop passengers off at the Santa Fe Depot in the Santa Fe Railyard.

However, outbound trains only depart from South Capitol Lot. There is a free shuttle to and from the venue. According to the website: “The last outbound train will be held until all Zozobra-goers are aboard.”

For more information click here.


Over a dozen food trucks will be providing fare, from Jambo Hapa’s African/Caribbean to Platero Fry Bread.


All water bottles must be empty before entering, and can be refilled at water stations inside the event. No alcoholic beverages from outside, or on the field.

Danielle Prokop is the multimedia editor for the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted by email at or on Twitter @ProkopDani.