15 Events You Can’t Miss in Santa Barbara

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Source: Damian Gadal

People in Santa Barbara love cultural motivation and enjoy active lifestyle. That’s why their city offers a great variety of festivals, shows, events and many other activities. Almost on any given weekend you will be able to attend some of the events. We hope this list of some of the most popular ones will help you make the right choice.

1. Santa Barbara International Film Festival

film festival
Source: Louise Palanker

This Film Festival is the most popular annual event in Santa Barbara. This is the time when some of the greatest names from the film industry come to the city. You can see some of the A-list actors as well as the most popular directors and producers walking along the red carpet there. More than 200 films are screened during the eleven festival days and you can choose to see some foreign, independent or edgy new films if you like. There are also many different events you can attend, and the most popular are panel discussions, tribute events and parties, of course. SB Film Festival winners usually become Academy Award nominees.


  • Name: Santa Barbara International Film Festival
  • Address: 1528 Chapala St #203, Santa Barbara, CA 93101
  • Website: sbiff.org

2. Santa Barbara Bowl

sb bowl
Source: Mark Krynsky

You should never leave Santa Barbara without going to a concert at this famous music venue. The venue itself is set on a hill and provides wonderful views wherever you look. The ambience of a charming small amphitheater has a very special intimacy. The staff is extremely friendly and helpful and listening to music under beautiful California stars is really amazing. And yes, this place attracts some of the greatest performers so you’ll want to come again!


  • Name: Santa Barbara Bowl
  • Address: 1122 N Milpas St Santa Barbara, CA 93101
  • Accepts Credit Cards: Yes
  • Parking: Street
  • Wheelchair Accessible: Yes
  • Website: sbbowl.com

3. Santa Barbara Arts & Crafts Show

When you visit Santa Barbara don’t miss the opportunity to go to Arts and Crafts Show at least once. It is held along Cabrillo Boulevard every Sunday and it’s been going on for decades. It is the only continuous festival of this kind in the world. You can enjoy the beautiful and original graphics, paintings, photography, sculpture and crafts done and made by the very artists you meet there. Enjoy the art in the wonderful beach setting under amazing palms.


  • Name: Santa Barbara Arts & Crafts Show
  • Address: 236 E. Cabrillo Blvd. Chase Palm Park Santa Barbara, CA
  • Phone: (805) 897-2519
  • Website: sbaacs.com

4. Santa Barbara International Orchid Show

Source: Morgan Hartt

If you are a real flower fan and orchid lover, and you visit Santa Barbara in March, you will get a special bonus. You can enjoy the annual three-day Orchid festival, one of the oldest and largest in the world. Have fun looking at some of diverse array of plants, spectacular displays and floral arrangements set up by numerous growers. Along with the exhibits there are numerous educational demonstrations and workshops you can attend and take part in. Visit this marvelous show and stimulate your senses.


  • Name: Santa Barbara International Orchid Show
  • Address: 3400 Calle Real, Santa Barbara, CA 93160
  • Website: sborchidshow.com

5. Santa Barbara Fair & Expo

Source: Glenn Beltz

Every year in April there is this wonderful event at the Earl Warren Showgrounds. For 5 days you can enjoy different rides, carnival games, various entertainment and popular fair food. At this perfect memorable family enjoyment there is definitely something for everyone. While the adults and older kids enjoy unforgettable amusement rides, little kids get a pony ride at the pet zoo or play various exciting games. If you get tired of that, visit some of the exhibit buildings and savor the sensational food in this fun atmosphere.


  • Name: Santa Barbara Fair & Expo
  • Address: 3400 Calle Real, Santa Barbara, CA 93105
  • Price: $8 for adults, $5 for children ages 6 to 12 and free for those younger than 6
  • Website: earlwarren.com

6. Summer Solstice Parade

The Summer Solstice Parade is a unique, creative and very fun three day event. Hundreds of people walk down the renowned State Street in a procession celebrating the summer. Every year the parade has a different theme. It is fun to see the hectic and weird crowd in unique costumes wandering around to the sound of the live band music. During the parade, a small beer garden is open and it is usually chaotic and crowded. All over the street there are lots of different vendors offering almost everything, from jewelry to food, just look for what you need! If you come with your kids, don’t worry, there is a kid’s section where they can get a pretty good entertainment.


  • Name: Summer Solstice Parade
  • Address: Santa Barbara, CA 93121
  • Phone: (805) 965-3396
  • Good for Kids: Yes
  • Website: solsticeparade.com

7. Sandcastle Festival

Source: Doc Searls

The annual Sandcastle Festival is held on the famous East Beach every September. This event celebrates the amazing ocean and wonderful Santa Barbara beaches. If you happen to be there at the time of the festival, don’t miss the exciting sandcastle and sculpute contest. The contestants are teams of up to ten people and their designs are evaluated by judges as well as spectators. You can also enjoy some of the other activities lined up to keep you entertained, like miniature golf or sand candle making. Various food and refreshing drinks are available everywhere, and live music makes the whole experience perfect.


  • Name: Sandcastle Festival
  • Address: Santa Barbara’s East Beach, 1118 Cabrillo Blvd.
  • Admission: Free
  • Registration to compete: $25 to $75
  • Good for kids: Yes
  • Website: sandcastlefestival.com

8. Santa Barbara Harbor & Seafood Festival

Every second Saturday in October thousands of seafood lovers gather to the Santa Barbara Waterfront for this amazing event. The spotlight of the event are local fisheries, so you can enjoy succulent and other seafood delicacies. Meet the local fishermen and enjoy fresh seasonal catches and try some grilled albacore, clam chowder, seafood paella or lobster bisque. After you eat, you can visit some of the booths and shop for some clothes, gifts, crafts and arts enjoying the sound of the live bands, or you can just take a fun walk along the beach and pier.


  • Name: Santa Barbara Harbor & Seafood Festival
  • Address: 141-153 Harbor Way Santa Barbara, CA 93109
  • Takes Reservations: No
  • Admission: Free
  • Website: harborfestival.org

9. Earth Day Celebration

With the goal of protecting the one world and climate we have, this festival attracts a lot of people every April. Join the festival and enjoy two days of live music, different performances and speakers on three stages. The event is great for families offering various programs and activities for everybody. There is the annual Green Car Show, Food Court with sustainable, organic menus, Beer and Wine Garden offering local wines and beers, different sports activities, as well as Celebrity appearances. You can also try driving some of the alternative fuel vehicles. Great fun!


  • Name: Earthday Celebration
  • Address: Alameda Park, 1400 Santa Barbara Street Santa Barbara
  • Admission: Free
  • Website: sbearthday.org

10. Santa Barbara Kite Festival

Source: Damian Gadal

One of the best family festivals in the area certainly provides a fun-filled day for all ages! If you have never flown kites, maybe this is the perfect opportunity to do it. The location overlooking the lovely Santa Barbara harbor is just right for kite flying. This is when hundreds of handmade and commercially made kites fly in the sky. You will enjoy the look of some children’s creations as well as some innovative high technology designs at different competitions like kite fighting, kite tail chasing and sport flying. There is always a food and drink zone for you and your kids, in case you get hungry. Enjoy and have fun!


  • Name: Santa Barbara Kite Festival
  • Place: Santa Barbara City College West Campus
  • Price: Free
  • Website:sbkitefest.net


11. California Wine Festival Santa Barbara

If you come to beautiful Santa Barbara in July, you must go to the Annual California Wine Festival. This three day festival is one of the largest of this kind. This is the time when wine and food get together with music and great fun and all of that at the wonderful beach. A huge number of local wineries display their latest first-class vintages and spicy appetizers from the best local restaurants. The Festival also showcases some of the best dining restaurants and gourmet food companies in the area. And the sound of the hot Latin music and lively Flamenco dancers will keep you cheerful during the festival.


  • Name: California Wine Festival Santa Barbara
  • Address: 236 E. Cabrillo Blvd, Santa Barbara, CA 93101    15 E De La Guerra St., Santa Barbara
  • Website: californiawinefestival.com

12. Old Spanish Days Fiesta

Would you believe that this event goes back almost a century! It is a unique large festival that reflects the city’s history, highlights its heritage and brings different cultures together. The Fiesta is spread all over the city. The best free entertainment lasts for days and it is for everybody, you just choose the time of the day or week to go. It is like a big fair of arts and crafts, performing arts, great food and drink with parades and mariachi bands.


13. Fourth of July

Celebrating Independence Day is as fun in Santa Barbara as in many other cities throughout America. If you are there at the time of the celebration, you should definitely join the locals at the wonderful Santa Barbara waterfront. You will certainly spend an amazing afternoon. Join the annual entertaining parade downtown, and then go to the traditional Concert at the Courthouse Gardens, or visit a special Arts and Crafts Show. There are food and drink vendors and music shows all around. At the end of the day you will be delighted by the incredible fireworks show that makes the sky sparkle with colorful explosions.


  • Name: Fourth of July
  • Address: 132-A Harbor Way Santa Barbara, CA 93109
  • Parking: Waterfront parking lots
  • Phone: (805) 564-5531

14. Lucidity Festival

Focusing on the community and environmental consciousness this annual transformational festival of music and arts invites you to dance, play, learn and laugh together and understand that you too have infinite potential to create the world the way you want to see it. You are invited to get involved actively with one of the themed villages and bring your own art, or lead your own workshop and freely express your dreams. Walk through the galleries exhibiting installations of fine art and a variety or workshops and presentations offering insight into holistic living and personal growth.


  • Name: Lucidity Festival
  • Address: Live Oak Campground 4600 California 154 Santa Barbara
  • Website: lucidityfestival.com

15. Santa Barbara’s Annual Greek Festival

Every July, beautiful Oak Park in Santa Barbara hosts the Annual Greek Festival. This is the opportunity to experience the simple and pleasant life of a small village in Greece. Enjoy the sounds, tastes and sights in a friendly and warm atmosphere. Feel the taste of the delicious homemade pastries, moussaka and gyros combined with the sounds of traditional Greek bouzouki while your kids have fun in bounce houses, obstacle courses and a wading pool with inflatable slides.


  • Name: Santa Barbara’s Annual Greek Festival
  • Address: Oak Park Santa Barbara, CA 93105
  • Admission: Free
  • Good for Kids: Yes
  • Website: santabarbaragreekfestival.org

As you can see, it is always right time to come to the beautiful city of Santa Barbara. There are wonderful events and festivals all year round, just choose the one that appeals to you most and have fun!

Have a good trip and travel!

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North America, Santa Barbara County, State of California, U.S.A.