Southern California never gets old, keep exploring with Traffic411. Instant traffic reports & updates on cool things to see that you don't know about yet!

Santa Barbara Festivals: Best Bets

Italian street painting festival, I Madonnari, livens up the grounds of Old MIssion Santa Barbara over Memorial Day Weekend (Photo: I Madonnari Festival)

The colorful Italian street painting festival, I Madonnari, comes to Old Mission Santa Barbara Memorial Day Weekend (Photo: I Madonnari Festival)

It’s hard to believe that summer is almost here. And, Santa Barbara knows how to Summer! The city nicknamed the “American Riviera” is home to an array of uniquely dazzling festivals, year-round.

Memorial Day weekend is considered the ‘unofficial’ start of beach season, so why not celebrate at the colorful I Madonnari Italian Street Painting Festival?  The grounds of Old Mission Santa Barbara shape shift into an Italian city, where street painters using chalk sketch massive images.

Asphalt is an artist's canvas at the I Madonnari street painting festival at Old Mission Santa Barbara (Photo Ken Pfeiffer)

Asphalt is an artist’s canvas at the I Madonnari street painting festival at Old Mission Santa Barbara (Photo Ken Pfeiffer)

Asphalt is their canvas as they create (or recreate) colorful works. This festival benefits the Children’s Creative Project, a non-profit which brings art into Santa Barbara area schools. Admission is free and the colorful drawings will stick around for a few days following the Memorial Day Weekend.

Colorful dancers shimmy down State Street at Santa Barbara's Summer Solstice Parade (Photo: Ken Pfeiffer)

Colorful dancers shimmy down State Street at Santa Barbara’s Summer Solstice Parade (Photo: Ken Pfeiffer)

The Summer Solstice Celebration is one of Santa Barbara’s most popular events, drawing 100,000+ visitors. Many line State Street to be dazzled by the colorful dancers, drummers and pageantry of the Solstice Parade. No commercial entries allowed, so this parade is 100% home-grown Santa Barbara. Along with the parade on Saturday (noon, June 20, 2015), there’s a three-day weekend festival in Alameda Park, featuring live bands, artisans selling clothing and crafts as well as an array of food and drinks.

Watch: Sights & Sounds of Santa Barbara’s Summer Solstice Parade 2013!

July brings the French Festival, which ties in with France’s Bastille Day, and the Greek Festival, to Oak Park. Ooh La La! Or, should I say, Opah! You will delight in the native dishes and desserts being served.  I enjoy attending summer festivals in Oak Park because they are free, not too large, and it seems like there’s a different one every weekend. You can drop in a couple of hours or spend the day indulging in traditional foods or enjoying free entertainment.

Accordian clown at Solstice Parade (Photo Ken Pfeiffer)

Accordian clown at Solstice Parade (Photo Ken Pfeiffer)

“Old Spanish Days of Santa Barbara,” aka “Fiesta,” takes over the downtown area on August 5-9, 2015.  This granddaddy of Santa Barbara events features horses with riders in traditional Spanish attire. A rodeo and other events mark the nearly week long celebration. Click this link for details on the rodeo and other events.

“Old Spanish Days Fiesta is about the heart of Santa Barbara’s residents and their passion for life,” said Cas Stimson, president of the 2015 Fiesta. This year’s theme is “Fiesta Romantica.” The first Fiesta was held in 1924 to pay tribute to the Spanish traditions  of Santa Barbara’s founding families.

The fun doesn’t end with summer.  The California Lemon Festival comes to Goleta in September; followed by the California Avocado Festival in Carpinteria and the Santa Barbara Harbor & Seafood Festival.

Kids of all ages enjoy Santa Barbara's unique mix of local events. (Photo Ken Pfeiffer)

Kids of all ages enjoy Santa Barbara’s unique mix of local events. (Photo Ken Pfeiffer)

While we’re on the topic of Santa Barbara festivals, I have to mention the Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF). The main event takes place in Winter, just ahead of the Academy Awards. SBIFF has become an important stop on the road to Oscar, where nominees can schmooze with peers and try to drum up last minute Academy votes.  Building on its success, SBIFF has added a few mini-festivals called “Waves,” including a French Wave, featuring cinema of France, in July.

Click here to see a year-round list of Santa Barbara festivals and events.

Traffic411 Insider’s Tip: Highway 101 into Santa Barbara (especially northbound) is usually busy in summer, and it will be jammed over the Solstice weekend. If you’re planning to attend the Solstice parade, arrive several hours early. Or, get a room and spend the night.

Share

Old Spanish Days Fiesta

Dancing at Santa Barbara's Old  Spanish Days Fiesta (Photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)

Dancing at Santa Barbara’s Old Spanish Days Fiesta (Photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)

Santa Barbarans are spending the week celebrating their beautiful city’s heritage, and you’re invited to attend many of the free events taking place around town.

Old Spanish Days Fiesta runs from August 5-9, 2015. The city comes alive with colorful Spanish dancers, dancing horses, a rodeo, two parades, live music on multiple stages and plenty of pageantry, food and drink.

What could be more breathtaking than a group of Spanish dancers in colorful gowns twirling on stage with Old Mission Santa Barbara or the County Courthouse as their backdrop? While you’re at the Courthouse, take a free tour. The clock tower (offering one of the best city views) recently reopened. Click here for a calendar of Fiesta events.

In this Lisa.FM/Traffic411 podcast, Old Spanish Days historian Erin Graffy explains the history behind this 90+ year city tradition. Her stories of the parade and rodeo will make you want to attend.

Santa Barbara historians Erin Graffy & her brother Neal Graffy offer insider tips for getting the most out of Old Spanish Days Fiesta. Ole! (Photo courtesy of Neal Graffy)

Santa Barbara historians Erin Graffy & her brother Neal Graffy offer insider tips for getting the most out of Old Spanish Days Fiesta. Ole! (Photo courtesy of Neal Graffy)

Plus, Erin’s brother, Santa Barbara historian Neal Graffy will share the history behind Fiesta traditions, such as the big rodeo and confetti eggs.  They’ll also tell you where to find the most authentic Spanish/Mexican food during Fiesta.

Dancers of all ages perform during Old Spanish Days Fiesta (Photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)

Dancers of all ages perform during Old Spanish Days Fiesta (Photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)

On Friday, Neal Graffy will provide color commentary during the Historical Parade  (El Desfile Histórico).  If you can’t make it to Santa Barbara to see the parade in person, you can tune-in online. KEYT-3 News will stream the parade live at KEYT.com 

KEYT senior reporter John Palmentari (left) with historian Neal Graffy at Fiesta 2014 (photo courtesy of Neal Graffy)

KEYT senior reporter John Palmentari (left) with historian Neal Graffy at Fiesta 2014 (photo courtesy of Neal Graffy)

¡Viva La Fiesta!

Traffic411 Insider’s Tip: Our Lady of Guadalupe (Church) Mercado serves the most authentic Mexican food during Old Spanish Days Fiesta.

Distance from LAX: 95 miles

 

 

Share