For a relatively small town, Santa Barbara’s annual calendar is packed with local events that are not only exciting and entertaining, but have withstood the test of time and have become some of the city’s favorite happenings for natives and tourists alike. As we begin a new year, here are eight SB traditions we’re looking forward to in 2018:
January 31- February 10
The Santa Barbara International Film Festival is one of the city’s most glamorous and prestigious events. The annual festival takes place over the course of 11 days and includes citywide special screenings, exclusive events with directors and actors, celebrity sightings and much more. Anyone who loves Hollywood and film looks forward to the SBIFF with excitement and anticipation each year.
International Orchid Show
The Santa Barbara International Orchid Show is more entertaining than one might think at the onset. Rather than a stuffy event for flower snobs, the festival showcases over 50 orchid exhibitors from all across the globe in an event that highlights the stunning and unique beauty of nature. You’ll be amazed as you walk amongst the rare varieties of orchids and may even be able to bring a special souvenir home with you!
Earth Day Festival
April 16 & 17
Now a popular event across the nation, the first Earth Day was actually held in Santa Barbara in 1970 after a major oil spill off our coast. The event has a special significance for locals for that reason, and each year it seems to grow in popularity, activities and fun! Held at Alameda Park every April, the festival includes local, organic food vendors, live music, community discussions and lectures, handmade, eco-friendly crafts and overall feeling of appreciation for our planet.
May 26, 27, 28
Certainly the most colorful event of the year, the I Madonnari Italian Street Painting Festival is also one of the city’s most fun and anticipated weekends of the year. Held May over Memorial Day weekend, the steps of the Old Mission are transformed by chalk paintings of every size and variety. Proceeds raised by the festival benefit the Children’s Creative Project, which brings arts education to kids in this area. Stroll amongst the murals and enjoy food booths and live music while helping out a great nonprofit!
The annual Summer Solstice Parade down State Street is a truly unique event in Santa Barbara where you’ll find locals embracing their eccentric sides. With wild costumes, special dance performances and extremely colorful floats, the parade is the perfect opportunity to let your inner hippie flag fly high. Join the fun for free and experience firsthand just how much this town loves the sun!
Old Spanish Days – Fiesta
Easily SB’s most popular and beloved event, and the one that embodies the spirit of the city most, ‘Old Spanish Days’ aka ‘Fiesta’ was designed specifically to celebrate Santa Barbara. Highlighting our Spanish heritage with flamenco performances, embracing our love for Mexican cuisine with food booths at every park, and enjoying the energy of this town with live music performances, local arts and crafts, confetti lined streets and much more, Fiesta is everything a SB native looks forward to each year.
California Avocado Festival
Each Fall Carpinteria hosts a massive festival in honor of our absolute favorite ingredient – the avocado. Practically worshipped by Californians, avocados are beloved by all here and celebrated with the annual Avocado Festival. You’ll find of course a ginormous vat of guacamole, but also specialties like avocado ice cream and chocolate avocado truffles to try. You’ll also find tons of live music, arts and crafts, and activities such as photo booths, local lecturers and mini-lessons, an outdoor climbing wall and more.
Harbor & Seafood Festival
The Harbor & Seafood Festival takes place on the second Saturday of October each year and celebrates SB’s local seafood with a family-friendly festival right on the waterfront. You’ll find boat tours and special rides, vendors showing off their culinary skills, live music and more. This is the perfect time to try something new and experience the excitement of maritime life.