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Santa Barbara’s “Merry” Season

Strolling through festively-decorated shops at La Arcada on State Street might make you forget you're in Southern California (Photo: Ken Pfeiffer Traffic411)

Strolling through festively-decorated shops at La Arcada on State Street might make you forget you’re in Southern California (Photo: Ken Pfeiffer Traffic411)

The 2015 holiday season is upon us and Santa Barbara is wasting no time getting into the festive Spirit.

Thousands of spectators are expected to line State Street on Friday, December 4th, for the 63rd Annual Downtown Holiday Parade. Starting at 6:30pm with a spectacular tree lighting, the parade will move down State Street from Sola to Cota streets.  Kids will have a chance to meet with Santa ahead of the event. Mr. Claus will be at center court of the Paseo Nuevo mall from 4pm-5:30pm.

On Sunday, December 6th, the Parade of Lights boat parade will brighten up the water between the City Pier and Stearn’s Wharf. The parade starts at 5:30pm and will be followed by a fireworks show. But, plan to head to the City Pier (near the Maritime Museum) early to where there will be tons of snow to play in and other kid-friendly activities.  (Check back soon to Traffic411 for my post on the best So Cal holiday boat parades).

Some Santa Barbara neighborhoods go all out Decking the Halls and homes! (Photo Ken Pfeiffer Traffic411)

Some Santa Barbara neighborhoods go all out Decking the Halls and homes! (Photo Ken Pfeiffer Traffic411)

Some neighborhoods go overboard on the Christmas lights and decorations. A ‘Jump on the School Bus’ or Trolley tour (the Santa Barbara Trolley of Lights website says they are sold out?). Tours run December 10-23 and will take you to all of the best locations.

Or, you can drive yourself, but be aware that the streets get packed with cars, especially on the weekends. You’ll find some of the best decorations along Portesuello Ave (between Las Positas and Modoc) and the lower east side (east of Milpas between Cota and the Hwy. 101).

The Nutcracker Ballet is a Santa Barbara tradition. The program, with a live, full symphony orchestra, takes place at the Arlington Theater the second weekend in December (this year it’s 12/12-13/2015).

Also Read: 2015 Holiday Boat Parade Guide

If you’re into Yuletide classics as well as  “The Great American Songbook,” check out Sandy Hackett’s Rat Pack Christmas at the Granada Theater, December 8th and 9th.  This lively show promises to channel the best of Frank, Dean, Sammy and Joey back in the days when the Rat Pack ruled the Vegas Strip.

For some family fun, “Fiesta de Navidad” at Casa Dolores  honors the beauty and traditions of Mexico with folk art scenes of the nativity, a Mexican chocolate display and more. Guests are encouraged to bring a gift or donation of arts supplies for local children’s groups. It’s on Friday, December 18th from 4-6pm.

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You won’t want to miss the nativity scene at Old Mission Santa Barbara, complete with life-size statues and live animals.

Do you have a favorite Santa Barbara holiday tradition or place to visit? Please share with me (email: Traffic411-at-aol-dot-com).

Portion's of the city's lower east side go all out with Christmas lights and decorations (Photo Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)

Portion’s of the city’s lower east side go all out with Christmas lights and decorations (Photo Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)

Santa Barbara holiday lights (Photo Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)

Santa Barbara holiday lights (Photo Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)

A trolley tour will ensure you see many of the best Christmas lights displays in Santa Barbara (Photo Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)

A trolley tour will ensure you see many of the best Christmas lights displays in Santa Barbara (Photo Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)

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