Skip to Main Content

Santa Fe, New Mexico: The Burning of Zozobra

Every September, a 100-foot-tall paper man, stuffed with sad notes from Santa Fe townspeople, is set afire on a hill overlooking the city.

Old Fort Marcy Park

Paseo De Peralta, Santa Fe, NM
I-25 exit 278. North on Cerillos Rd into the city, then turn right on Paseo De Peralta and take it east and then north to Old Fort Marcy Park.
Annual Sep. event. Local health policies may affect hours and access.
Save to My Sights

Visitor Tips and News About The Burning of Zozobra

Reports and tips from visitors and Roadside America mobile tipsters. Some tips may not be verified. Submit your own tip.

Burning of Zozobra

I got a kick out of your zozobra item. However, zozobra is not a balloon! Zozobra, also known as old man gloom is a paper and wood sculpture. Zozobra is a spanish word and translates as something like sorrow or misery. The burning of Zozobra symbolizes the burning up of the years accumulated misery.

[Chris Worth, 12/02/1998]
Burning of Zozobra

One of the strangest sites I have ever seen was when I was in Santa Fe, NM. Each fall (early September), during the annual "Fiesta," the people of Santa Fe gather together for the burning of Zozobra (pronounced: zoe-ZOE-bruh). Zozobra is a giant balloon (at least 100 feet high) which looks a lot like Mr. Bill from Saturday Night Life fame. They set Zozobra up on top of a hill so that he can be seen by all. Then people in white sheets perform ritual dances around Zozobra for about a half-hour while Zozobra "moans" (speakers echoing the moans of Zozobra can be heard all over town). At the end of the dancing, several more people with white sheets come out and do more dancing around the base of Zozobra holding torches -- then they set him on fire. If you want to go to Santa Fe to see this spectacle, make your reservations at least 1 year in advance (for real!!).

The burning of Zozobra takes place off of Paseo De Peralta. (Take I-25 to Santa Fe, get off at Cerillos Rd- go right on Paseo De Peralta).

[Brett Spigelman, 11/24/1998]

Nearby Offbeat Places

Carved ArchangelsCarved Archangels, Santa Fe, NM - < 1 mi.
Big Dog SwingBig Dog Swing, Santa Fe, NM - < 1 mi.
Miraculous Gravity-Defying StaircaseMiraculous Gravity-Defying Staircase, Santa Fe, NM - < 1 mi.
In the region:
Bobby Valdez Sculpture Garden, Las Vegas, NM - 41 mi.

Latest Tips Across Roadside America

Catch up on the latest discoveries from the road.

Explore Thousands of Oddball Tourist Attractions!

Unique destinations in the U.S. and Canada are our special obsession. Use our attraction recommendation and maps to plan your next road trip.

My Sights

My Sights on Roadside America

Create and Save Your Own Crazy Road Trip! ...Try My Sights

Mobile Apps

Roadside America app: iPhone, iPad Roadside America app for iPhone, iPad. On-route maps, 1,000s of photos, special research targets! ...More

Roadside Presidents app: iPhone, iPad Roadside Presidents app for iPhone, iPad. POTUS landmarks, oddities. ...More

New Mexico Latest Tips and Stories

Latest Visitor Tips

Sight of the Week

Sight of the Week

American Treasure Tour, Oaks, Pennsylvania (Jul 8-14, 2024)

SotW Archive

USA and Canada Tips and Stories

More Sightings