Santa Barbara is a great place to visit no matter what the season. With constant sunshine and good weather, it is hard to pick the best time to travel here. However, with so many exciting festivals throughout the year, you might consider planning a trip to include one of them. From celebrations of international arts to local seafood and wine, here is our guide to the top 5 annual events in SB:
Santa Barbara International Film Festival
January & February
The Santa Barbara International Film Festival is by far the most glamorous of all the annual festivals,. Every January and February locals and visitors flock to Santa Barbara’s theaters to check out some of the best movies of the year. Featuring 11 days packed with special screenings, themed parties, and exclusive panels, the event is one of the most popular in town.
Earth Day Festival
You’ll notice the pivotal role nature plays in this community on any trip to Santa Barbara. So, what better way to experience the local love of the environment than visiting in time for the annual Earth Day Festival? Growing each year, the celebration is held in Alameda Park located right Downtown. This special day in April brings people together to enjoy local, organic food, live music, special performances and lots of fun.
The I Madonnari Festival is one of the most memorable events each year. Held on Memorial Day weekend at the Old Mission, the festival features local artists and celebrates the Italian tradition of street painting by showcasing hundreds of chalk murals of all varieties. The festival also features food and live music, with all of the proceeds benefit the Children’s Creative Project.
The three-day California Wine Festival held every July is the perfect way to experience wine culture on your next trip to Santa Barbara. The event moves from a lively party on Thursday night, to a day of wine education and tasting on Friday, and culminates on Sunday with a beachside tasting event that features more than 70 different wineries. For anyone who loves to experiment with their drinking, this is the festival for you!
Old Spanish Days Fiesta
The Old Spanish Days Fiesta is the pinnacle of Santa Barbara festivals. Celebrating the Spanish heritage of the city, the festival kicks off with a music and flamenco show on the steps of the Old Mission on Wednesday night. Continuing on through the weekend, ‘Fiesta’ is all about eating, drinking and enjoying yourself. Be prepared to be covered in confetti and full of authentic Mexican food as you wander the streets of Downtown as well as many parks throughout town. As they say here, ‘Viva la Fiesta!’
Harbor & Seafood Festival
The Harbor & Seafood Festival is a largely underrated event held every October that provides the perfect opportunity to try fresh, local seafood as well as learn about the aquatic culture in Santa Barbara. Don’t miss the chance to talk to fisherman, experience a boat tour and truly acquaint yourself with the Harbor. Of course, the fish you eat here will be better than anything you’ll find at a restaurant!