Guide to Old Spanish Days Fiesta

For 100 years, Old Spanish Days Fiesta has reigned as the summer event that locals and visitors alike look forward to each August in Santa Barbara. Taking place this year from July 31 to Aug. 4, the streets of downtown Santa Barbara glisten with papel picado (colorful paper flags) and street vendors, while live music, caballo (horses), mercados (markets) and the historic parade take festival-goers back in time. Celebrating it’s centennial year, this annual festival is a celebration of the area’s rich history and diversity, with influences from Spanish, Mexican and Native American cultures.

Old Spanish Days Fiesta returns with a bang, featuring iconic events such as the El Desfile Histórico and Flor y Canto. Keep reading for the ultimate itinerary of events to attend at this year’s Fiesta celebration.

Visit Santa Barbara would like to remind the festival-goers that throwing and leaving confetti, sequins and glitter on the ground is considered littering. Using paper confetti only, sparingly, is encouraged.

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WEDNESDAY, July 31

Courthouse Fiesta Tours between 10:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
Free one-hour, docent-guided tours of the beautiful historic landmark take place every hour between 10:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., Wednesday, July 31 through Sunday, Aug. 4. The tour meets and begins in the iconic Mural Room at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse.
Cost: Free to attend

El Mercado de la Guerra from 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
This lively Mexican market has everything from souvenirs, live entertainment to authentic Mexican and Spanish cuisine. Located across from City Hall in downtown Santa Barbara, El Mercado De La Guerra is a great way to officially kick off Old Spanish Days Fiesta. This market is open every day of Old Spanish Days Fiesta through Saturday, Aug. 3.
Cost: Free to attend]

La Fiesta Pequeña from 8-10 p.m.
Head into the evening at Old Mission Santa Barbara with the anticipated La Fiesta Pequeña, meaning “little fiesta,” and enjoy classic dance performances from Californios Spirit.
Cost: Free to attend

THURSDAY, Aug. 1

La Misa del Presidente at 10 a.m.
This Roman Catholic Mass dates back to the first day of Fiesta in 1936 and today is followed by a festive reception in Old Mission Santa Barbara’s Sacred Garden.
Cost: Free to attend

El Mercado de la Playa from 12-10 p.m.
Happening between Thursday, Aug. 1 and Sunday, Aug. 4, head to Santa Barbara City College‘s La Playa Stadium for a festive market with music and souvenirs in a scenic setting. Explore four different attractions at this lively night market: The food court, where attendees can find delicious authentic Latin cuisine, Fiesta Bazaar for souvenirs, Fiesta Carnival for carnival rides and the Crazy Horse Cantina for refreshing libations.
Cost: Free to attend

DIGS! (Celebración de los Dignatarios) from 5-10 p.m.
Go to the Santa Barbara Zoo, for DIGS!, a ticketed, all-inclusive event for an evening of wild animals, food, music and dancing. DIGS! is a 21+ event, as there will be a wide selection of local wine, beer and tequila served all night long.
Cost: $125 per person (early bird), $150 per person (general), $175 (day of event)

Noches de Ronda from 8-10 p.m.
Noches de Ronda, translating to “night watch,” takes place at the Sunken Garden of the Santa Barbara Courthouse through Saturday, Aug. 5, where spectators can view various types of performances, including California-style dance and music, contemporary flamenco and folklórico traditions.
Cost: Free to attend

FRIDAY, AUG. 2

Annual Fiesta Friday Party at Loquita starting at 11 a.m.
Immerse yourself in Santa Barbara’s rich Spanish heritage with a flamenco performance by Mizuho Sato and music by Jesse Torre at Loquita. Indulge in authentic Spanish cuisine like chorizo y pollo paella, patatas bravas, bocadillo de verduras and churros. Sip on bottomless sangria and enjoy Lustau Sherry and Lalo Tequila tasting while dancing to DJ Val-Mar Records and a Smooth Exchange. This event is for ages 21+.
Cost: Ticket pricing to be announced

El Desfile Histórico starting at 12 p.m.
Historically held on State Street, this year El Desfile Histórico boasts a brand-new route: Cabrillo Boulevard to Calle Cesar Chavez and back. The parade features antique coaches, carriages and wagons, floats and over 600 horses. Parade attendees will be able to park in the downtown parking garages, where they can take a shuttle—free of charge—to the parade route. This service is offered courtesy of the City of Santa Barbara and Downtown Santa Barbara.
Cost: Free to attend

Fiesta Stock Horse Show & Rodeo
Experience the excitement of the annual Fiesta Stock Horse Show & Rodeo, presented by the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association (PRCA), Thursday, Aug. 1 through Sunday, Aug. 4 at Earl Warren Showgrounds with events featuring a variety of thrilling competitions. These events include bareback riding, tie-down roping, steer stopping, mutton bustin’, saddle bronc riding, PRCA team roping, barrel racing and bull riding.
Cost: $30 per adult, $15-$20 per child (under 12 years old)

Flor y Canto from 7-8 p.m.
Held at the Sunken Gardens of the Santa Barbara County Courthouse, Flor y Canto is a short-but-sweet celebration of Spanish music and dancing—celebrating its 20th year this year!
Cost: Free to attend

Gala: Mercedes de Córdoba starting at 7:30 p.m.
Join the Flamenco Arts Festival in celebrating the dance expression of award-winning flamenco dancer Mercedes de Córdoba, referred to as “the most genuine current representative of the Madrid school of flamenco dance and the necessary bridge between the masters and the new generations” at Lobero Theatre.
Cost: $51-$106 per person

Flamenco Arts Festival Gala After Party starting at 9:30 p.m. to midnight
Meet the artists from the Flamenco Arts Festival gala and enjoy music, delicious paella, tapas and beverages at the Lobero Theatre Courtyard. The event is catered by L.A. Chef Roger Navas-Balladares.
Cost: $36 per ticket

SATURDAY, AUg. 3

El Desfile de los Niños starting at 10 a.m.The charming Children’s Parade is a favorite fiesta event. This year, El Desfile de los Niños will take place along Cabrillo Boulevard, from Garden Street to Calle Puerto Vallarta. This parade highlights young people of Santa Barbara and their families as they don traditional costumes to celebrate the rich culture of the area. Children walk, ride in wagons and dance down the parade route!
Cost: Free to attend

Mujeres Makers Market from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
From Saturday, Aug. 3 to Sunday, Aug. 4, join this popular monthly market for its Fiesta edition. Mujeres Makers Market promotes community and unity amongst women creatives and highlights women of color. Come shop and support over 50 women-owned businesses at this outdoor event at El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park.
Cost: Free to attend

Santa Barbara Mariachi Festival starting at 5 p.m.
The Santa Barbara Mariachi Festival returns to the Santa Barbara Bowl for its 27th year. Grab your tickets to witness performances from Mariachi Las Catrinas, Mariachi Leyendas del Mariachi and Mariachi Los Galleros de Danny Rey.
Cost: Ticket prices to be announced

Sunday, Aug. 4

Fiesta Arts and Crafts Show from 10 a.m.- 6 p.m. along Cabrillo Boulevard
Close out the week’s festivities with a stroll through the Fiesta Arts and Crafts Show on Cabrillo Boulevard, where you can discover expertly crafted pottery, jewelry, home decor, art and more.
Cost: Free to attend.