No matter what month of the year, you’ll surely find enough galas, fund raisers, benefits, festivals, parades and celebrations to keep you busy every weekend. Many of these have become Santa Barbara favorites over the years, mostly because they are fun, free and usually offer a fabulous food. In general, nobody dresses up for any of the listed events, unless you go in costume, so casual dress is acceptable anywhere. Just have fun!
Weather permitting, foot-launched pilots flying Hang Gliders and Paragliders will fly from La Cumbre Peak in the Santa Barbara Mountains to Elings Park at the West end of the City of Santa Barbara, or land on Arroyo Burro Beach! Pilots fly over the oceanfront bluff and demonstrate precision flying. Usually held on New Years Day at Elings Park at the Cliff Drive entrance. (805) 965-3733
Join hundreds of filmmakers and thousands of film enthusiasts as Santa Barbara welcomes the best of new and unique cinema which usually includes a Premier of a major motion picture. Held in many of the Santa Barbara theaters. (805) 963-0023
This annual Santa Barbara event is known internationally and comes at the perfect time of the year as the Santa Barbara foothills turn green. The orchids are the stars of the show and are awe inspiring. Held at Santa Barbara Earl Warren Showgrounds. (805) 969-5746
Since Santa Barbara is a natural place for excellent whale watching, it only makes sense that we would celebrate our whales in the midst of their Northern migration though the Santa Barbara Channel. This two day festival features live entertainment, marine education stations, a children’s carnival, food booths and an arts & craft show. An entertaining event for the entire family. Sponsored by the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. (805) 962-2526
This Santa Barbara family style event attracts fliers of all abilities. The sites chosen are absolutely beautiful and overlook the Santa Barbara Marina and the entire coastline. Great wind and good people. Categories include sport, kite fighting, highest flying, most beautiful, largest/smallest and a kids tail chase. Prizes awarded in all categories. No entry fee, free admission and parking. (805) 637-6202
Located in and around one of the most historically significant buildings in Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara Presidio Days is a three day event celebrating Santa Barbara’s birthday and multi-ethnic heritage. Held at El Presidio de Santa Barbarain downtown Santa Barbara. (805) 966-9719
Since Santa Barbara is known as the birthplace of modern environmental consciousness, it is both educational and enjoyable to visit this celebration of the Earth. Learn how you can help the enviroment locally and globally while enjoying the food and music. Held in Alameda Park.
If you enjoy tasting good wine and food, the Santa Barbara County Vintner’s Festival in the Santa Ynez Valley is the place to be. Sample wine from110+ Santa Barbara County wine makers plus food from many of the areas top restaurants. This event sells out, so book early at (805) 688-0881
The Santa Barbara Fair & Expo is a five day event organized to showcase the creative talent of people of all ages though livestock, agricultural, commercial and educational exhibits. A full on amusement park, live entertainment, carnival games and a kid’s section all compliment this popular event at the Earl Warren Showgrounds. (805) 687-0766
Every year thousands of locals and tourists descend on De La Guerra Plaza for Santa Barbara’s Cinco de Mayo festival. Enjoy great Mexican food from the vendors in the Plaza in front of Santa Barbara City Hall and a full stage of live music all weekend. (805) 965-8561
Thousands of enthusiastic children and families come together at Alameda Park near Downtown Santa Barbara to make this a special day for all. With pony rides, creative crafts, clowns, carnival games, magicians, face painting, music and much more, this event is a fundraiser for the Santa Barbara Family Service Agency, (805) 965-1001
With many blocks of downtown State Street closed to traffic and hundreds of breathtaking classic American cars and hot rods on display, this is one fun car show that can be enjoyed by the whole family. (805) 964-0639
Santa Barbara celebrates the arts using centuries old street painting as a medium on the The Plaza at the front steps of the Santa Barbara Mission. Over 200 artists are invited to get on their knees to fill their pavement canvases with their unique inspirations and the results are truly astonishing. The Plaza is transformed into a color-splashed event that should not be missed. Great for all ages. (805) 569-3873
The day starts early in the afternoon with a parade down State Street and ends with an electrifying and spectacular fireworks display off West Beach. Festivities abound all day long!
The air is filled with music, laughter and tempting aromas of French cuisine being prepared by dozens of French chefs. Wandering mimes, jugglers and accordian players perform thoughout the crowds, along with puppet shows and storytellers for kids of all ages. (805) 564-7274
For more than 80 years the Santa Barbara National Horse Show has been a grand tradition. This event is both fun and exciting for spectators and competitors alike. Held at the Earl Warren Show Grounds. (805) 687-8711
Organizers say it’s your chance to “be Greek for the weekend.” Without going to Greece every year, this is one way to get your annual quota of elaborate costumes, authentic musicians & dances, spanakopita, baklava and gyros. Be ready for joyful cries of “opa!”
The biggest event and party of the year in Santa Barbara is known as FIESTA! It is a Santa Barbara City wide event five day celebration of Santa Barbara’s Spanish heritage. Tasty food, music of the mariachis, costumes and numerous festivities make this one event not to miss. The main Parade on Friday, billed as one of the largest equestrian parades in the United States, travels up State Street from West Beach to Sola Street. The Children’s Parade on Saturday is fun for young and old alike.
Add to this schedule so many parties, marketplaces (Mercados), music, dancing and carnivals that it might be hard to remember what day it is! By far the most popular event of the year, Fiesta is held during the first week of August. (805) 962-8101
This festival not only provides and educational experience, but also allows you to enjoy succulent seafood, all freshly caught and prepared. There are over 1,100 working and pleasure boats in the habor and a Maritime Museum that should not be missed. Tours, kids crafts, sea songs, boat adventures and storytelling complete the Harbor experience. (805) 897-1962
Billed as the Santa Barbara South Coast’s largest festival, this three day event is held Friday though Sunday on Linden Avenue in Carpinteria. With three entertainment stages with over 40 acts, 70+ arts and crafts vendors and 30+ food booths and a dedicated “Kid’s block”, that billing is probably true. Plan to come early and stay a while, there is a lot to see and do! Be prepared for big crowds, so bringing you dog is not a good idea. The Avocado Expo Tent offers an educational slant on the avocado industry (avocado the competition for the year’s largest avocado), but the real treats involve everything from the everything largest vat of guacamole, Avocado Ice Cream and the Avocado Climb. Held in early October on Linden Avenue in Carpinteria. (805) 684-0038
You will not want to miss Goleta Valley’s biggest celebration of the year held at Girsh Park. The Goleta Lemon Festival has something for everyone with live bluegrass, country, folk & pop bands, blacksmith demonstrations, arts & craft booths, lemon based treats, the world’s best lemon meringue pie and an awesome car show on Saturday. The pie eating contest tops it all off in Goleta style. (805) 967-2500
A short parade to get everyone in the spirit of the Holidays! Travels down State Street from Victoria to de la Guerra Plaza. Usually held in the evening on the first Friday of December. (805) 962-2098
Enjoy Santa Barbara only nightime Boat Parade of Lights held at the Santa Barbara Harbor entrance. You will be amazed at the Holiday decorations and lighting of the boats as they pass by. Best viewed from Stearn’s Wharf. (805) 564-5530