Guide to holiday events in Santa Barbara 2020
‘Tis the season for savory wine pairings, holiday markets, festive light tours, and the finest culinary delights! As winter days turn brisk and stars gleam through the night sky, explore all Santa Barbara has to offer, from family-friendly and snow-centric fun to romantic candlelit dinners for two. Get ready to make lasting memories in Santa Barbara with friends and loved ones this holiday season.
Be sure to check back! More events will be added as details become available.
Events & Activities
Let it Snow at Paseo Nuevo, November 27 to December 31, 2020, 5:30 p.m., 6 p.m., 6:30 p.m., 7 p.m.
Santa Barbara’s night sky fills with “snow” bringing the magic of winter to shoppers and families at Paseo Nuevo. Meander to Center Court where “snow” will safely fall four times each evening to allow for attendees to keep socially distanced before greeting Santa at his workshop. Learn More
Cost: Admission is free. Please note that there will be no shows on Christmas Day, December 25, 2020.
Photos with Santa at Paseo Nuevo, November 27 to 28, 2020 and December 19 to 20, 2020, 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.
He’s making a list and checking it twice! What better way to make sure you’re on Santa’s “nice” list than a visit to old Jolly Saint Nick himself? At Paseo Nuevo Shopping Center, there will be plenty of opportunities to snap a pic and hear a few “ho, ho, ho’s.” Starting Thanksgiving weekend, get a photo with Santa Claus at his home at Paseo Nuevo in front of the grand Christmas Tree. Learn More
If you can’t make it in person to tell Santa what’s on your Christmas Wish List, send Santa a letter online or create a hand-written letter to be dropped off in Santa’s mailbox near center court, November 27 through December 24, 2020. You might even get a response back from Santa himself!
Cost: Admission is free and no appointment required.
Digital Storytime with Santa, December 3, 10 and 17, 2020, 11 a.m.
Sit down for digital storytime with Santa as you attend from home via live-streaming YouTube video. Stay tuned for more details!
Holiday Painting with The Painted Cabernet, December 4, 5, 6, 11, 13, 19, and 20, 2020
Release your inner van Gogh this holiday season! The Painted Cabernet is hosting a handful of live Zoom painting events this December, so get ready to spread Christmas cheer from the comfort of your home. Choose from an array of artistic scenes, such as Starry Trees, Mr. Snowman, and Red Christmas Truck. Upon registration, all painters receive a kit with everything they need to paint their masterpieces: 16×20 canvas, paints, and brushes. Additionally, if you’re looking for an in-person, socially distanced al fresco experience, come Paint in the Garden at Belmond El Encanto. Attendees will enjoy holiday treats, wine, and paint a gorgeous Christmas scene. Learn More
Cost: $35/person for Zoom classes; $89/person for painting at Belmond El Encanto
9th Annual Trolley of Lights Tour, December 5 through 24, 2020, 5:30 p.m., 7:30 p.m., and 9 p.m.
Rockstar Trolley announces the return of its popular Christmas lights tour for the 2020 holiday season. Available for private charters only, tour through Santa Barbara’s most festive neighborhoods and get into the seasonal spirit. Christmas music and candy canes will be plentiful as you sing and celebrate with the whole family. Learn More
Cost: $600 for a 1-20 passenger trolley. $650 for a 21-26 passenger trolley. 27-32 passenger trolley. Reservations required.
21st Annual Santa Barbara Trolley of Lights, December 8 through 21, 2020, Monday through Thursday, 6:15 p.m. departure, Friday through Sunday, 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. departures
Santa Barbara Trolley Company will continue its annual tradition by offering private trolley tours to see the area’s best holiday light displays. During this 90-minute ride, relax in an open-air trolly as you embark on one of two holiday light tours, the Jolly Trolley Tour, and the Trollidays Tour. Each private charter can accommodate up to 20 people, and masks are required for each passenger. Learn More
Cost: $795 for a 1-20 passenger trolley.
Holiday Movies Under the Stars in Your Cars, December 9 and 16, 2020, 8 p.m.
The magic of the season and going to the movies collide thanks to UCSB Arts & Lectures. Held at West Wind Santa Barbara, gather your family together to see the holiday classics including, Elf (December 9 at 8 p.m.) and It’s a Wonderful Life (December 16, at 5:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.). Gates will open at 7:30 p.m., and cars will be ushered in on a first-come, first-served basis. Those who arrive early can enjoy food trucks, concessions, and entertainment directly from your vehicle. Learn More
Cost: Free Event
Festive Al Fresco Movie Night, December 23 through 25, 2020, 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
A cozy, celestial atmosphere awaits at Belmond El Encanto. Watch your favorite holiday movie classics under the stars with an alfresco movie screening. Recline on Belmond’s Pacific Lawn, and tuck in for gourmet popcorn and artisanal candies. Admission comes with the screening of one movie, popcorn, artisanal candies, apple cider, and festive cookies, blankets, and plenty of space to recline, personal headphones for custom volume adjustment, and holiday cheer in a safe and open outdoor environment. Learn More
Cost: $75 per person; $35 per child, 12 years and younger.
Local Shops & Markets
Outdoor Christmas Market at Paseo Nuevo, Tuesday and Thursday through Sunday, November 5 through December 24, 2020
Cross everyone off your gift list thanks to Paseo Nuevo’s wide variety of national retailers and local specialty shops. In addition to the traditional storefronts, wander the weekly outdoor Christmas Market to shop for locally-made goods as Santa Barbara-based artisans and makers set up shop safely within the mall’s open spaces and under their signature paseos. With Santa Barbara products and wares, there’s something for everyone that you won’t find back home.
State Street Promenade Market, Every Thursday, November 5 through December 17, 3 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Give the gift of signature Santa Barbara products and goods this holiday season by shopping at the first ever, State Street Promenade Market. Taking advantage of State Street being closed to vehicular traffic, the 1000 block of State Street between Carrillo Street and Figueroa will be transformed into a local marketplace each Thursday for shoppers to meet and shop the local makers of Downtown Santa Barbara. As you browse and buy, enjoy temporary art and light installations and sample eats and drinks from downtown purveyors. Learn More
The Yes Store, Ongoing
Santa Barbara’s original artists’ pop-up gift gallery, The Yes Store returns as a virtual shop for its 53rd year. The Yes Store continues its tradition of highlighting the finest area artisans including woodworking, ceramics, fine jewelry, glasswork, fabric, leather, and more. Please stay tuned for updates on when this virtual shop will be open. Learn More
Wine & Food Events
Bubbles, Birds and Bea, November 11, 2020, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
DJ Darla Bea will set the mood with energizing beats during Finch and Fork’s three-course fried chicken meal. Served on the iconic Kimpton Canary Rooftop, enjoy sweeping views of the Santa Barbara skyline while sipping on a welcome glass of Taittinger Champagne. Learn More
Cost: $62 per person. $1 from every glass of Taittinger enjoyed this night will go to support No Kid Hungry.
Holiday Provisions from Helena Avenue Bakery, November 6 through December 28, 2020
Relish in a well-deserved break this holiday season and let Helena Avenue Bakery take care of the details. This take-out menu is guaranteed to upgrade any holiday meal and chock full of savory sides and sweet treats. Choices include Helena Avenue’s signature Parker House Rolls; Thanksgiving Stuffing Kit made from Helena Avenue Bakery artisan sourdough breads with a blend of spices and herbs; Friday Night Challah and freshly baked apple, pecan, and pumpkin pies. These must-have treats will provide you with ample quality time with friends and family and fewer hours in the kitchen for the festive season. Learn More
Cost: $11 to $25 per menu item. Pies and Parker House Rolls require a 48 hour pre-order. Challah is available every Friday, and Isaac’s Stuffing Mix is sold at the counter as supply lasts.
Painting in the Garden, December 13, 2020, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Take a break from holiday season stress and let your creativity flourish in the gardens of Belmond El Encanto. In partnership with The Painted Cabernet, spend an enchanting afternoon creating an artistic masterpiece under a local artist’s helpful instruction. Recommended for beginner and intermediate painters, you’ll be guided on every paint swoosh as you sip on local wines and enjoy sweet holiday treats. This event will take place outdoors with plenty of space for safe social distancing. Learn More
Cost: $89 per person. Reservations required. The ticket price includes two glasses of selected local wines and an individual cookie plate.
Butterfly Tea and Live Music, December 21 through 23 and 28 through 30, 2020 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Gather with loved ones to celebrate a joyous afternoon sampling scrumptious pastries and seasonal treats while sipping artisanal teas at Belmond El Encanto’s Butterfly Tea event. Live music, butterfly coloring pages for the kids, and bubbles for the adults will be in plentiful supply to make this an enchanting afternoon for the entire family. Learn More
Cost: $125 per person; $60 per child, 12 years and younger. A portion of the proceeds will go to the Santa Barbara Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation.
Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at Angel Oak, December 24 to 25, 2020, 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Celebrate with family and friends on The Bluff at Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara. Chef de Cuisine Alexander James Bollinger has created extraordinary holiday culinary offerings to be enjoyed on both Christmas Eve and Day. Select from a specialty brunch or a seaside full dinner menu with holiday specials including USDA prime rib roast, steamed Alaskan king crab legs, Dover sole menuier, and a dark chocolate yule log.
Cost: Varies by dish. No set menu pricing. Reservations recommended.
Christmas Eve and Day at Belmond El Encanto, December 24 to 25, 2020, 4 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Offering a timeless sense of tranquility from its vantage point high in the foothills, Belmond El Encanto is one of Southern California’s most iconic hotels. This Christmas, in The Dining Room & Terrace, Executive Chef Johan Denizot offers guests a fine festive dining experience, with a menu that includes offerings ranging from Wagyu beef tartare, butter-poached white seabass, and prime rib to decadent holiday desserts such as chocolate yule log, and eggnog crème brûlée. Learn More
Cost: $125 per person, $60 per child (age 12 years and younger)
Christmas Eve at Malibu Farm, December 24, 2020, 7:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
‘Twas the night before Christmas at Malibu Farm—the perfect time to celebrate with loved ones and friends over a scrumptious family-style dinner. Relax together and enjoy simply prepared farm-to-table plates crafted from the freshest locally sourced ingredients. Choose from three different seating times including, breakfast, lunch and a prix-fixe dinner menu. Learn More
Cost: Prix-fixe dinner menu is $140 per adult, $65 per child (ages 4 to 12 years old; children under age four dine complimentary)
Feast of the Seven Fishes Dinner at Caruso’s, December 25, 2020, 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Embrace la dolce vita of the American Riviera with ocean views, fine wine, and dinner at Caruso’s. For the occasion, the beachfront restaurant will offer Chef Massimo Falsini’s Feast of the Seven Fishes. Also known as La Vigilia or The Eve, this traditional Italian-American meal consists of exquisite fish and seafood dishes. Learn More
Cost: Prix-fixe dinner menu is $225 per adult, $85 per child (ages 4 to 12 years old; children under age four dine complimentary)
Christmas Day at Malibu Farm, December 25, 2020, 7:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Share an unforgettable holiday repast drawn from the bounty of Southern California at Rosewood Miramar Beach. In keeping with Helene Henderson’s beloved farm-to-table concept, Malibu Farm’s brunch buffet will pair regionally influenced Christmas classics with a cut-your-own-salad garden and an extraordinary assortment of seasonal dishes. Select from a standard a la carte breakfast menu in the morning or opt for a festive family-style prix-fixe menu in the evening.
Cost: Prix-fixe dinner menu is $125 per adult, $65 per child (ages 4 to 12 years old; children under age four dine complimentary)
Christmas Day at Caruso’s, December 25, 2020, 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
The holidays are synonymous with joyful moments and the flavors of the table. On Christmas Day, Caruso’s offers two opportunities to savor a delectable meal, graciously served in a stunning oceanfront setting. In the early afternoon, celebrate early with a Christmas Day brunch, while in the evening, take in views of the Pacific Ocean as you toast to the season and enjoy selections from a sumptuous four-course prix fixe menu with Christmas specials crafted for the occasion by Chef Massimo Falsini. Learn More
Cost: Brunch menu is $110 per adult, $65 per child (ages 4 to 12 years old). Dinner menu is $165 per adult, $85 per child (ages 4 to 12 years old). Children under 4 years old dine complimentary)
Christmas at bouchon, December 24, 2020, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. and December 25, 2020, 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.
This Christmas, bouchon offers holiday guests a three-course, seasonal wine country cuisine dinner menu. Serving a first, main and dessert, you’ll have full choice from bouchon’s entire menu, including holiday specials. Learn More
Cost: $95 per person
New Year’s Eve Events
Pop, fizz, and clink in Santa Barbara this New Year’s Eve. Ring in 2021 with memorable dining experiences, seasonal performances, festive events, and many more “only in Santa Barbara” moments. Click here to get the complete guide to New Year’s Eve Events in Santa Barbara.