Festivals To Plan For

No matter the month, you can expect a flurry of fun for all ages when visiting Santa Barbara. From wine tasting, film debuts, musical performances, outdoor adventures food festivals and art exhibitions, Santa Barbara has an event or festival for every palate. Plan the perfect getaway to our seaside haven with the use of this helpful guide and explore the thrill of festivals in Santa Barbara!

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FEBRUARY

Santa Barbara International Film Festival

Get out on the town in glittering fashion with the Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF). Each February, there’s a morning-to-night cinematic feast: films from around the globe, new releases, classics, avant-garde entries, documentaries and both animated and live shorts. Panels of directors, writers and producers offer behind-the-scenes stories and industry information, while evening tributes to actors and filmmakers highlight the stellar, often Oscar-worthy work of veteran and emerging artists.

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MARCH

APRIL

Santa Barbara Bowl

Tucked against a hillside within walking distance of downtown, the near 5,000-seat Santa Barbara Bowl is a stunning and historic open-air venue for musical performances. Headliners of every genre of music—from rock, pop and jazz to mariachi and classical—take the stage of the intimate amphitheater.

Photo credit: @killdevilfalls via Instagram

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Earth Day Festival

Few know that Santa Barbara is the birthplace of the very first Earth Day, and what better way to honor the planet than by hosting one of the largest Earth Day celebrations on the west coast. Join the like-minded eco-conscious community of Santa Barbara for its annual Earth Day Festival, slated to feature live music, sustainable food and beverage options and over 200 exhibitors.

Photo credit: Matt Perko

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MAY

Taste of Santa Barbara

Celebrate Santa Barbara’s storied culinary past with the Taste of Santa Barbara presented by Santa Barbara Culinary Experience. Food aficionados travel from near and far for this weeklong, county-wide celebration of all things food and drink. The festival will feature insightful panel discussions, creative pop-ups, film screenings, farm tours, tasting events, tributes to Julia Child and more ways to connect and celebrate the best of Santa Barbara County. Santa Barbara Culinary Experience is designed to celebrate the bounty of Santa Barbara’s local farms, ranches, vineyards and fisheries.

Photo credit: Silas Fallstich

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I Madonnari Italian Street Painting Festival 

Be dazzled by incredible artwork at the I Madonnari Italian Street Painting Festival on Memorial Day weekend at Old Mission Santa Barbara. Each day, street painters (“Madonnari” in Italian) will transform the Mission Plaza into an art gallery of awe-inspiring, large-scale images. Using pastels, artists design more than 150 vibrant scenes showcased on the pavement throughout the weekend. Admission is free and the event is open to the public.

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JUNE

surfer wearing a wetsuit and holding a surfboard entering the ocean

Santa Barbara Surf Film Festival

The third annual Santa Barbara Surf Film Festival, which is held over two days at Lobero Theatre, celebrates this rich surf history and the diverse storytelling styles of filmmakers, artists, board shapers and surfers who spearheaded it all. A highlight to look forward to is the outdoor Surf Film Festival Block Party, where you’ll find a variety of surf exhibitors, local artisans, live music, delicious food and craft drinks. The dates for this year’s festival are to be announced.

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Summer Solstice

Drawing visitors from all around the world, the Summer Solstice Parade and Festival is one of the largest art events in Santa Barbara County. Spectators can expect to see vibrant displays of artwork, costumes, performances and more. Each year, this free festival is held the weekend on or after summer solstice, featuring special concert event, delicious food and local merchants.

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JULY

California Wine Festival

Wineries large and small will show off their wares at the outdoor California Wine Festival. This two-day event kicks off on Friday evening with an educational seminar that compliments a reserve and rare wine tasting. On Saturday, the festivities move beach-side for a showcase of over 250 wines from 70 different wineries, and the offerings of noted chefs, food purveyors and wine-related vendors. Enjoy tri-tip from top Santa Barbara-based restaurants as local chefs compete for best barbecue! As the cool ocean breeze wafts the sweet tang of barbecue through the beer tents, grab a plate and browse the various pop-up shops throughout the festival.

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AUGUST

Santa Barbara Indie Film Fest

At the end of August, celebrate the art of cinema at the historic Alhecama Theatre in downtown Santa Barbara, where you’ll enjoy two days of films produced by an impressive selection of independent and youth filmmakers at the Santa Barbara Indie Film Fest. With its diverse selection of films and networking opportunities, this event gathers film creatives proud to celebrate the art of filmmaking.

Photo courtesy of Santa Barbara Indie Film Fest

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Pacific Pride Festival

The Pacific Pride Foundation hosts its annual Pacific Pride Festival at the end of each August—which is Santa Barbara’s official Pride Month—featuring an all-day event celebrating the LGBTQ+ community of Santa Barbara and beyond, at Chase Palm Park. With roughly 30 vendors in attendance, explore booths featuring local food, artisans and organizations championing LGBTQ+ rights at this popular Santa Barbara Pride celebration.

Photo credit: @kao_wonder via Instagram

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SEPTEMBER

Santa Barbara Sea Glass & Ocean Arts Festival

Santa Barbara is a haven for artisans, makers, designers and those who are passionate about local craftsmanship, and what better than to celebrate the art that can be created using the natural gifts from the ocean? The Santa Barbara Sea Glass & Ocean Arts Festival, is the perfect place to shop gorgeous sea glass jewelry for loved ones and explore ocean-themed art inspired by our seaside paradise. Artists from all over gather to display their oceanic wares, so don’t forget to mark your calendar next year for this incredible event.

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OCTOBER

Ride Santa Barbara 100

Get cycling with the popular annual event Ride Santa Barbara 100, a premier century ride that takes participants through Santa Barbara’s many scenic cycling routes each October. The event offers multiple routes that accommodate for world-class cycling for both beginner to advanced riders. Disclaimer: Gibraltar Road is closed to all traffic at this time.

Photo credit: @ridesb100

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NOVEMBER

Santa Barbara Jewish Film Festival

If your travels to Santa Barbara are during November, make sure to plan ahead to attend the Santa Barbara Jewish Film Festival. Held at The New Vic Theatre, this annual film festival will include five days of exceptional films from around the world on themes of Jewish culture and identity, including a wide range of documentaries, dramas, comedies and shorts by American, European and Israeli filmmakers. The dates for this year’s festival are to be announced.

Photo credit: David Bazemore

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Santa Barbara Half Marathon

Looking for a way to work out and see the coastal sights of Santa Barbara? The Santa Barbara Half Marathon is a fantastic opportunity to get your sweat on and explore the area on your own two feet. The athletic event is open to all ages and skill levels, and brings together runners and joggers from all walks of life before the craziness of the holiday season sets in. On top of the killer views, you’ll love the post-run endorphins!

Photo courtesy of Santa Barbara Half Marathon

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DECEMBER

aerial view of lighted boats lined up on the ocean during dusk
Dec. 8

Parade of Lights

Celebrate the end of the year with holiday cheer at Santa Barbara’s annual Parade of Lights. Bring the entire family to the waterfront, as more than 30 boats adorned with thousands of lights and festive decorations will illuminate the waterfront as they navigate through the Santa Barbara Harbor and around Stearns Wharf.

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