No matter what month of the year, you’ll surely find enough galas, fundraisers, 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 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!
International Film Festival
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
International Orchid Show
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
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 Barbara in 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 environment locally and globally while enjoying the food and music. Held in Alameda Park.
Santa Barbara County Vintners’ Weekend
If you enjoy tasting good wine and food, the Santa Barbara County Vintner’s Weekend in the Santa Ynez Valley is the place to be. Sample wine from 110+ Santa Barbara County winemakers plus food from many of the area’s top restaurants. This event sells out, so book early at (805) 688-0881
Santa Barbara Fair & Expo
The Santa Barbara Fair & Expo is a five day event organized to showcase the creative talent of people of all ages through livestock, agricultural, commercial and educational exhibits. A full on amusement park, live entertainment, carnival games and a kid’s section all complement this popular event at the Earl Warren Showgrounds. (805) 687-0766
Santa Barbara celebrates the arts using centuries old street painting as a medium on 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
Summer Solstice Parade
Santa Barbara Fourth of July
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!
Goleta Fireworks Festival
The Goleta Fireworks Festival, held at Girsh Park, is a family-friendly, alcohol-free charitable event sponsored by The Rotary Club of Goleta Noontime and The Rotary Club of Goleta. Food, entertainment, kids’ activites, all capped with a fabulous fireworks display!
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 throughout the crowds, along with puppet shows and storytellers for kids of all ages. (805) 564-7274
National Horse Show
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!”
Old Spanish Days
The biggest event and party of the year in Santa Barbara is known as FIESTA! It is a Santa Barbara citywide, 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
Santa Barbara Book & Author Festival
Harbor & Seafood Festival
This festival not only provides an 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 harbor 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
California Avocado Festival
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 your dog is not a good idea. The Avocado Expo Tent offers an educational slant on the avocado industry, but the real treats involve everything from the largest vat of guacamole, and Avocado Ice Cream to the Avocado Climb and the year’s largest avocado. Held in early October on Linden Avenue in Carpinteria. (805) 684-0038
Goleta Lemon Festival and Car Show
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
Parade of Lights
Enjoy Santa Barbara only nighttime 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