Celebrating its 100th year, Old Spanish Days in Santa Barbara is a beloved Santa Barbara tradition dedicated to honoring and preserving the city’s history, spirit, culture, heritage and traditions. The annual five-day festival, called “Fiesta” by locals, takes place at the beginning of each August.
Throughout the event-filled week, visitors and locals alike are invited to learn about the history, customs, and traditions of the American Indian, Spanish, Mexican, and early American settlers that comprise the rich cultural heritage of Santa Barbara through authentic music and dance. Explore the mercados, taste delicious authentic treats, and revel in the bright time-honored traditions of Fiesta.
EVENTS & ACTIVITIES
Old Spanish Days Fiesta draws thousands of visitors to Santa Barbara each summer, with a variety of free family-friendly events and a handful of ticketed community events benefiting local charities and social service organizations. Between parades (including one of the world’s largest equestrian parades), carnivals, rodeos, music, dance performances and more, Fiesta has many exciting events and activities for all ages. For more information and details, view the Calendar of Events.
EVENT LOCATIONS AND ADDRESSES
The festival takes place all around town with live music, performances and events held in historic venues, parks and white-washed paseos including Old Mission Santa Barbara, the famous Sunken Gardens of the beautiful Santa Barbara County Courthouse, Casa De La Guerra and De La Guerra Plaza, to name a few. View a full list of Old Spanish Days Fiesta event locations and addresses to help you map out your celebratory route.
LIVE MUSIC AND ENTERTAINMENT
Live bands and mariachi take the stage at el mercados and cantinas, while traditional song and dance from Californios, Flamenco, Spanish classical and Mexican folklorico light up the stage during events like Noches de Ronda on the Santa Barbara County Courthouse lawn and La Fiesta Pequeña at Old Mission Santa Barbara. View the robust line up of live music and performances on the entertainment schedule here.
WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK
One of the best parts of Old Spanish Days Fiesta is the food and of course, the margaritas! Stroll through a colorful Mexican market to feast on Spanish and Mexican-American foods or head to the mercados where community groups serve up tacos, enchiladas, tamales and more. Relax, sip a cold drink and visit the beer garden for more live music and dancing inside the cantinas. Many local restaurants and bars get into the spirit of Fiesta too with food and drink specials.
If arriving by car and need to find the closest and most convenient place to park, check the City Real-Time Parking webpage, which shows parking availability at all Santa Barbara City lots. With updates every 15 seconds, you’ll always know where to find the best Downtown space. The first 75 minutes are free, and each subsequent hour or part of an hour is $1.50. There are also a number of free 90-minute parking spots on side streets around town. Click here to view the real-time map.
WHERE TO STAY
Santa Barbara has a variety of hotel accommodations for event-goers to choose from, including many with seasonal offers.
TIPS FOR YOUR VISIT
The Santa Barbara Train Station is located downtown and a short walk to many Old Spanish Days Fiesta events and activities. Find Amtrak train information here.
Help keep Santa Barbara clean and beautiful. Confetti eggs or cascarones have long been a tradition at Old Spanish Days. Vendors line State Street selling colorful and elaborately decorated eggs. To help protect our environment and keep wildlife safe, only buy from vendors that use paper confetti and please use your cascarones sparingly. Learn More
Pack a few blankets and lawn chairs to layout for events like La Fiesta Pequeña at Old Mission Santa Barbara, Las Noches de Ronda at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse and the multiple parades along State Street. To get the best spot, be sure to look at the entertainment schedule to check allowed set-up times. For some events, set-up is allowed the night before and for others the morning of the event.