In true new year’s fashion, Santa Barbara kicks off the 2018 award season with a glamorous, star-studded performance. Starting on January 31 and running through February 10, the 33rd annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) gathers film lovers from all over the world to enjoy special panels, award ceremonies and 200+ films at some of the city’s most historic theaters.
Founded in 1986, SBIFF has grown to become one of the leading film festivals in the U.S. Last year the event attracted an astonishing 92,000 attendees, with visitors ranging from A-list celebrities to film loving locals and tourists. As Hollywood’s elite flocks to Santa Barbara for 11 special days, Santa Barbara herself takes center stage, offering award winners and attendees a picture-perfect getaway. To help you celebrate this year’s standout film stars, while savoring all Santa Barbara has to offer, we’ve put together an event-by-event guide to help you make the most of your time in The American Riviera®.
Book Your Stay
Join the Breakfast Club
They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so why not make it extra tasty? Join the infamous “breakfast club” by gearing up for the first screening with a celebrity-worthy breakfast at one of our local restaurant gems.
If you’re a grab-a-coffee-to-go kind of person, Handlebar Coffee Roaster’s will not disappoint. Located just a block away from Lobero Theatre, you’ll be able to enjoy your artisanal cup of coffee at the theater’s morning screenings. To start the day with a hearty breakfast, head to Paradise Café and enjoy one of their yummy omelets as you soak up the sun on their beautiful outside patio. For gluten-free options that are as creative as they are tasty, visit Scarlett Begonia inside the charming Victoria Court. Insider Tip: This restaurant is as a popular as SBIFF itself, make reservations ahead of time to avoid a long wait time.
If you’re looking for more breakfast options, check out our itinerary here.
Get Red Carpet Ready
Now that you’re filled with energy, get ready for nightly red carpet affairs and select an outfit that’s ready to impress. Paseo Nuevo, Santa Barbara’s open-air mall, offers stylish red-carpet options for everyone. For locally owned boutiques with more unique clothing, visit the charming, architectural dream of La Arcada, or the historically vibrant Presidio Neighborhood.
For more information on where to shop in Santa Barbara, click here.
Before putting on your newly found film festival attire, treat yourself to a relaxing spa visit. Salt Cave Santa Barbara offers unique experiences with the healing powers of Himalayan salts. For a more contemporary spa experience, Float Luxury Spa has an abundance of massages and facials that will leave you radiating like a star.
For more recommendations on the area’s top spas, click here.
Drink and Dine like a Superstar
As night falls, celebrate with post-matinee or pre evening tribute drinks. Duck into a local hot-spot for hand-crafted cocktails and cheers to a night on the town. The Good Lion, located right next to the Granada Theatre offers screen time worthy drinks in a movie-set-like ambiance. Around the corner you’ll find another drink spot worthy of your time, milk & honey. Try their refreshing “Ginspiration Point”—the 2017 winner of “The Official Drink of Santa Barbara”. For more creative drinking lounges, we’ve rounded up a list of the best locations for picture-perfect sips. If you prefer wine or beer over cocktails, don’t miss Santa Barbara’s renowned Urban Wine Trail, or the ever growing craft beer scene.
All that’s left is to pick the perfect A-list dinner locale, and don’t you worry, Santa Barbara has an endless supply of mouth-watering restaurants that are sure to please your palate.
No matter if you’re seeking an intimate, fine dining experience or a more casual dinner restaurant, there is something for everyone in Santa Barbara’s Historic Theatre District.
Now that you’re festival-ready, the last thing on the list might be the most important one, your ticket.
Consider yourself a cinephile? Treat yourself to the full festival experience with one of the full coverage Festival Passes. Covering your entrance for the entirety of the festival, Festival Passes range in access depending on the type of events you’re interested in. Choose from four different passes ranging from $350-$5,000: State Street Pass, Cinema Pass, Platinum Pass and Concierge Pass.
If you’re more of a film-fan and not looking for a full access pass or priority admission, you can buy an individually selected package of tickets to the type of event you are most interested in. Choose from three different passes ranging from $300-$750: Intro Package, Film Geek Package and Tribute Package.
Just interested in attending a specific event? Choose from Individual tickets, MiniPaks, (A 10-screening pack in the form of a punch card), or a Rush Ticket (wait in the rush ticket line to see if there are any remaining seats).
For budgets that are tight after the Holidays, don’t fret! As a ‘thank you’ to the community, SBIFF offers a handful of free community events: Free film screenings, Super Silent Sunday, AppleBox and 3rd Weekend.
P.S. If you can’t attend this year’s festival, tickets for the 2019 festival go on sale in July at a 25% discount through August.
From film geek to newbie, SBIFF is eleven full days dedicated to the best in cinema. No matter if you are a dedicated film lover who has already bought passes, or if you find yourself in town during these eventful days, here are some festival highlights that are not-to-be-missed.