Events and Festivals in Santa Barbara

Festivals in Santa Barbara

  • Santa Barbara International Film Festival is a flagship event in the town held annually towards the end of January/beginning of February, downtown. Some of the biggest names in Hollywood grace the proceedings that include awards ceremonies and world premier screenings.
  • French Festival Bastille Day Weekend in Oak Park.
  • Fiesta, Last Week of July or First week of August. This week-long event takes over the entire city, with most of the main events being held in the downtown area. Also known as Old Spanish Days, it is a celebration of Santa Barbara's Spanish, Mexican, and occasionally Native American history. Fiesta events generally feature Folklorico, flamenco, and Aztec music and dance. Undoubtedly the biggest event of the year,it is teeming with performances. If you want a good view of performers these smaller venues such as little cafes and restaurants are the way to go.
  • There are also special tours of the Mission and other historical sites take place, and a rodeo is held at the Earl Warren Show grounds.

Events in Santa Barbara

  • Fiesta Pequenia: The steps of the mission to transform into a stage. Fiesta dignataries (people who plan the events) are greeted by Flower Girls (the "hostesses" of Fiesta) and shown to their seats at the front. El president then declares the official start of Fiesta week. Next, local dance studios showcase some of their best dancers. In the middle of the performances, a representative from "Native Daughters of the Golden West" appears as Saint Babara, for the first time in public. The Junior and Senior Spirits of Fiesta also have their first public performances here. The two spirits are flamenco dancers. The best dancers in each Flamenco studio compete for the titles, during a May competition. The Junior Spirit competition involves a dance performance, where as Senior Spirt contestants are asked to demonstrate his or her public speaking abilities, in addition to their dancing abilities.
  • Mercados: These events last all week and feature food booths and stages with live entertainment. El Mercado del Sud, located in De la Guerra Plaza, is the largest of the mercados. During the day, both mercados have performances from local dance groups and at night they have live music. In addition to food booths they have Fiesta themed merchandise for sale. From Friday through Sunday, there is the Our Lady of Guadalupe Mercado, which is one of the most authentic Mexican experiences you can have, outside of Mexico with food and mariachi music.
  • Las Noches de Ronda - Nightly dance and music performance in the Court House sunken gardens. Auditions are required and flamenco studios normally show reserve their best dances for "Noches". Other performers include Folklorico, Hip-Hop, and Aztec dancers, in addition to musical performances.
  • El Desfile Historico: The Fiesta Historical Parade Up State Street, is one of the largest equestrian parades in the United States. It occurs on the Saturday of Fiesta Week.
  • El Desfile De Los Ninos: The Children's Parade Up State Street. Local children's groups dress up for Fiesta and parade down the street.
  • Tardes de Ronda Daytime performance in the courthouse sunken gardens, featuring child performers.

Another of the popular events in Santa Barbara is the Summer Solstice Celebration – During the Summer Solstice Weekend, in downtown Santa Barbara, groups of locals use recycled products to create whimsical floats and costumes around a general theme. Past themes have included: ‘Jungle’, ‘Circus’ and ‘Wild Things’. Yearly staples include belly dancers, swing dancers, and Tihitian Dancers.

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