Located up in the hills overlooking the city, the Santa Barbara Bowl is one of the most gorgeous concert venues in California. It’s large enough to attract big name artists, but small enough and constructed in a way that makes the shows feel intimate and private.

From a little insight into the look and feel of the beloved music venue to a peak at its programming, this is our breakdown of what’s great about the Santa Barbara Bowl.


The amphitheatre is high above the city, with a stage centered before a crowd that stretches up a hill, and overlooks a gorgeous treescape, the terracotta roofs of Santa Barbara’s old adobe buildings, and the Pacific Ocean beyond. During the sunlight, it’s simply breathtaking. And as the night sky takes over, it provides an immersive place to enjoy the best musicians to come through Santa Barbara.


Every year, the Santa Barbara Bowl impresses with a number of great concerts. The spring and summer of 2018 kept that tradition alive with a number of fun and interesting performers. In May, for example, country music star Brad Paisley performed a concert with one of the great comedians of all time—Ellen DeGeneres. The spring also saw a funk-legend mashup with War performing alongside George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic. Other big-name performers included David Byrne, Jack White, Alanis Morissette, and comic Jim Gaffigan.

The earliest records of any shows at the Santa Barbara Bowl show that it hosted Old Spanish Days Memorias de Santa Barbara in August of 1936. Joni Mitchell performed a double live album show their in 1980 that turned into an acclaimed film. If you’re interested in the list of iconic musicians who’ve played at the Santa Barbara Bowl, you can scroll through lists of performers every year from now all the way back to 1936 on the venue’s website.