Holiday Events in Santa Barbara

Winter in Santa Barbara is the season for festive merriment, tasty culinary delights, and extra time with loved ones. As the season changes and stars sparkle through the night sky, come explore all of the events and other holiday happenings in Santa Barbara. We hope you use this events guide to make lasting memories in Santa Barbara this holiday season.

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Holiday Events & Activities

Consider your holiday calendar booked, Santa Barbara has endless holiday events and activities that are guaranteed to fill you with glee. With new events added daily, be sure to check back so you don’t miss a single jovial moment.

Letters to Santa Creation Station, Now through December 24, 2021, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily
Visit the Center Court at Paseo Nuevo Shops & Restaurants with the little ones to write letters to Santa, draw masterpieces, and create gift wish lists. All supplies are provided, including complimentary crayons that are yours to keep. Send off your lists and letters, and you can expect a postcard reply for Santa himself! Learn More
Cost: Admission is free.

holiday decorations at Paseo NuevoPhotos with Santa at Paseo Nuevo, Now through December 24, 2021
Santa Claus is back and ready to receive your wish lists! Visit Old St. Nick in Center Court at Paseo Nuevo Shops & Restaurants, and your kiddos will delight in receiving a gift from Santa and a festive photo opp. Bring the whole family down to enjoy the holiday spirit, and furry friends are welcome too. December 7, 14 and 21 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. are designated Pet Photo times, where you can snap a pic of Fido and Santa for the holidays. Learn More
Cost: Admission is free; No reservation required.

Let it Snow at Paseo Nuevo, Now through December 31, 2021, 5:30 p.m. and 6:30 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 twice each evening, where the family can enjoy the wonder 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, 2021.

Solvang Julefest, Now through January 1, 2022, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily
Solvang lights up during the holidays, and Julefest is one seasonal offering you won’t want to miss. Enjoy the cozy Christmas lights and displays, sip on warm cocktails and indulge in local wine as you peruse Christmas-bedecked storefronts, and participate in traditional Danish Christmas activities while you walk through town. Feast on sugary treats and fill your bellies with European-style pretzels and sausages, and pick up a few gifts for loved ones at home. Learn More
Cost: Ticket prices vary.

Holiday Zoo, Now through December 31, 2021, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Grab the whole family and experience the Zoo transformed into a winter wonderland while visiting the animals. Santa will be making weekend appearances beginning Friday, November 26! Visitors are encouraged to wear their favorite holiday garb, ugly Christmas sweater, or dress up in a frosty costume. Seasonal treats and adult holiday spirits are also available for purchase. Learn More
Cost: Free with Zoo admission or Zoo membership; Reservations required.

Christmas at Belmond El EncantoPhotos with Santa at La Cumbre Plaza, Now through December 24, 2021
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 La Cumbre Plaza, there will be plenty of opportunities to snap a pic and hear a few “ho, ho, ho’s.” Get a photo with Santa Claus at his home at La Cumbre Plaza across from Chico’s. Learn More
Cost: Admission is free; Photo packages available for purchase. Reservations required.

Milpas Holiday Parade, December 11, 2021, 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Head to Milpas Street to view the annual Holiday Parade, and be sure to bring your own chairs and blankets to enjoy the show. You can expect floats, performances, light shows and many more festivities that celebrate the season. Learn More
Cost: Admission is free.

35th Annual Parade of Lights, December 12, 2021, 12 p.m. to nightfall
Santa Barbara can’t let the holiday season pass without cheer, merriment, and a festive boat parade along the waterfront! This annual event is by far one of the season’s stand-outs, drawing visitors and families to watch over 30 brightly decorated boats parade around the Santa Barbara Harbor. Beginning at noon, families can visit a Winter Wonderland at the Santa Barbara Harbor, where there will be holiday elves, 10 tons of snow to play in, and holiday music. It’s even rumored that Santa may make an appearance! At 4 p.m., watch the “Human Powered” category competition as dozens of standup paddlers and kayakers will loop around Sterns Wharf dressed in festive attire. At 5 p.m., a tree lighting ceremony will be held on Stearns Wharf, just before the boat parade begins at 5:30 p.m. to the theme of Magic Under the Moonlight.” Boasts will begin at Leadbetter Beach and work their way down the coast to the Cabrillo Arts Pavilion, then back along the coast to Stearns Wharf. Post parade, stay for a firework display that will light up the night sky. Learn More
Cost: Free to attend. Please note that there will be no sit-with-Santa photo opps available.

Holiday Wreath Making Workshop, December 12, 2021, 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Kick-off your holiday décor and design the perfect holiday wreath to deck your door this season. Join Wild West Florals on the patio of The Lark, and get in the holiday spirit while tapping into your creative side. Tickets include wreath, florals, decorative supplies, professional instruction, and a glass of sparkling wine.
Cost: $65/person.

Parade of Lights Cruise, December 12, 2021, 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Enjoy the parade of lights and fireworks finale from the best view in town, the Double Dolphin. Enjoy the fresh sea breeze as Santa Barbara kicks of the holidays, and raise a glass of bubbly to festive merriment on the water. Don’t forget to bring a heavy jacket and bundle up, it will be chilly out on the ocean! Learn More

10th Annual Trolley of Lights Tour, December 4 through 24, 2021, 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 2021 holiday season. Available for private charters, 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: $650 for a 1-20 passenger trolley. $700 for a 21-26 passenger trolley. $750 for a 27-32 passenger trolley. Reservations required.

Holiday at the Ranch, December 11, 2021, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Join Rancho La Patera and Stow House as they celebrate the holiday season. Bring the whole family to stroll the grounds, listen to holiday music, enjoy the glittering holiday decorations and say hello to the chickens and goats. Don’t forget to say hello to Santa Claus as well! Learn More
Cost: $5/person; $2/child. Ticket pre-purchase required.

Santa Speedo Run, December 19, 2021, 10:45 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Grab your speedo, swimsuit or any other festive gear, like Santa hats, reindeer noses and snowman suits, and meet at Arlington Theatre for the Santa Speedo Run. Dash down State Street towards Stearns Wharf and celebrate the season with friends, while getting a bit of exercise and fresh air! This event is noncompetitive and meant to be wholesome, holiday fun. Learn More
Cost: $20 cash donation to benefit the Pacific Pride Foundation

Christmas Ornament Glassblowing Class, November 23 through December 23, 2021, 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Enjoy a thrilling glassblowing class this holiday season, and create an ornament that will forever remind you of fun Christmas memories. Express your creativity and learn the tricks of the trade. Learn More
Cost: $99/person; ornament shipping available upon request. Class is not available on Sundays.

Seasonal Spa Treatments, November 30 through December 31, 2021
Visit Rosewood Miramar Beach and indulge in a relaxing holiday-inspired treatment this December at Sense®, A Rosewood Spa. Treatments range from a Ginger Snap Scrub and Massage, designed to melt away stress, to a Contouring Gua Sha Organic Facial, whose ultra-hydrating and anti-aging properties reveal a radiant glow. Gift yourself some self care this holiday season! Learn More
ost: Varies per treatment.

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Holiday Performances

Holiday theatre, musical acts, and festive performances in Santa Barbara will surely get you into the joy and merriment of the season. From annual productions to one-of-a-kind shows, the stage is set for a bright winter season.

Holiday Music & Carolers, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, November 26 through December 24, 2021
Paseo Nuevo brings the holiday joy as live music and carolers roam the outdoor shopping center each weekend. Follow along by swinging “fa la la la la la!” and enjoy costumed carolers, holiday horns, and colossal choirs. Learn More

The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley, December 2-19, 2021
Celebrate the season with part II of the Christmas at Pemberley trilogy.  Presented by Ensemble Theatre Company at The New Vic, this new sequel to “Pride and Prejudice,” Darcy and Elizabeth must now contend with hijinks amongst the staff, all while preparing for the family to visit. Both touching and charming, The Wickhams is a comic-drama where Jane Austen meets “Downton Abbey.” Learn More
Cost: $25-$62 per ticket

Holiday Community Performances, December 11 and 18, 2021, 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Get excited and head over to Storke Placita (700 State Street) for special live holiday performances by local music and dance groups. On December 11, the Big Christmas Brass Show is set to impress. Be sure to pack chairs, blankets and snacks and get cozy for the show.
Cost: Admission is free.
Holiday Concerts, December 10 & 17, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Gather with friends and family on State Street for a nighttime concert series under the stars. Enjoy performances by groups from various genres, and peruse the festive, lit up displays and shops along State Street throughout the night.
Cost: Admission is free.

The Nutcracker at Arlington Theatre, December 11, 2021, 2:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.; December 12, 2021 at 2:30 p.m.
Santa Barbara Festival Ballet presents its 47th Nutcracker performance — a festive, holiday tradition featuring amazing guest artists from major ballet companies across the country. Delight in the awe of the tin soldiers, the mice, snowflakes, and more. This family friendly event is the perfect celebration of the holiday season. Learn More
Cost: $30- $58 per ticket

Steve Tyrell at The Manor Bar, December 11, 2021 8 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.
Now is your chance to listen to two-time Grammy-winning artist Steve Tyrell here in Santa Barbara. Kick off the festive season with his special holiday performance at Rosewood Miramar Beach’s Manor Bar, and savor festive cocktails and bar bites to complement special holiday fare. Learn More
Cost: Admission is free.

The Santa Barbara Gay Men’s Chorus, December 13, 2021, 8 p.m.
Join the newly formed Santa Barbara Gay Men’s Chorus for a fun and festive selection of winter choral music. Their membership includes tenor and bass singers from the Santa Barbara community and as far as Camarillo, Port Hueneme, and West Hollywood. Directed by Nicole C. Lamartine, ring in the holidays and enjoy wonderful harmonization this holiday season. Learn More
Cost: Admission is free but a $15 donation is encouraged.

The Women’s Auxiliary Presents: Holiday Magic, December 18, 2021, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Come relish in the wonderous, seasonal performance by the Women’s Auxiliary of the Music Academy of the West this holiday season. Stay warm with a cup of hot cocoa and savor seasonal drinks while admiring the gorgeously decorated set. Enjoy family activities and photo opportunities, and spread holiday cheer! Learn More
Cost: $75 per adult; Children ages 17 and under are complimentary.

The Nutcracker, December 18, 2021, 7:30 p.m.
The holiday season isn’t complete without the magic of The Nutcracker. Opera San Luis Obispo Grand Orchestra and Gustafson Dance’s talented students have teamed up with State Street Ballet to bring Clara and her Nutcracker Prince to life. Audiences can enjoy this annual production of a holiday classic under the bright lights of The Granada Theatre. Fantastic musical scores, pristine choreography, and gorgeous costumes are just the beginning. Learn More
Cost: $26-$106 per ticket

The Christmas Revels, December 18, 2021, 7:30 p.m. and December 19, 2021, 2:30 p.m.
The Lobero Theatre will host The Christmas Revels for its 14th annual holiday performance, a thrilling and historical showcase that features more than 60 singers, actors, dancers, and instrumentalists wearing gorgeous traditional costumes. Changing each year to present the music, dance, and storytelling of different countries and centuries, this year’s production will explore a special time in Santa Barbara’s own history, portraying Anita de la Guerra’s wedding festivities that take place during the holiday season of 1835. Learn More
Cost: $16-$81 per ticket; Children under age 4 are free.

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Artisan pop-ups and seasonal marketplaces are in plentiful supply this holiday season. Show your support for local makers and shop local goods straight from the source! Another way to shop small is by visiting local independent retailers. This gift buying guide will steer you to shops and products that can only be found on The American Riviera®, along with premier purveyors of Santa Barbara’s signature style and some delectable Central Coast goodies to boot. 

couple shopping on state street

State Street Promenade Market, Every Thursday, 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 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
Cost: Admission is free.

Blissful Boutiques Holiday Market, Now through January 9, 2022, Wed – Sun 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Created by local entrepreneur Lisa Green to showcase and support local artisans, this dedicated holiday pop-up store at 621 Paseo Nuevo takes place Wednesday through Sunday. Among the 30+ vendors, find quartz rocks hand-picked from U.S. mines, jewelry, clothing, gourmet foods, dolls, photography, and much more.
Cost: Admission is free.

The Yes Store, November 4 to December 24, 2021
Santa Barbara’s original artists’ pop-up gift gallery, The Yes Store returns to downtown Santa Barbara for its 54th year, continuing its tradition of highlighting the finest area artisans including woodworking, ceramics, fine jewelry, glasswork, fabric, leather and more. Learn More
Cost: Admission is free. 

Muni Mega Mall, December 9 and 16, 2021, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Shop local and cross off everyone on your gift list this year at Municipal Winemakers. Each week, artisan vendors will sell their wares, and you can peruse with a warm cup of mulled wine in hand. Munch on delicious vegan food by Rascals SB, and a $10 donation to Transition House gets you a free glass of wine! Learn More
Cost: Varies per item. 

Haley Corridor Makers Market & Bar Hop, December 11, 2021, 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Celebrate the holidays with the Haley Corridor, one of Santa Barbara’s most exciting emerging pocket neighborhoods, for an afternoon of shopping and sipping. In partnership with I Heart Indie Markets, browse and buy from 30 makers while enjoying libations from Carr Winery, Potek Winery and Third Window Brewing. Products for sale range from a wide variety of handmade goods, including jewelry, knit goods, home decor, art prints, soap, candles, and more. Learn More
Cost: Free to attend. Drinks and goods sold separately.

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Food & Wine Events

Miracle Cocktail Pop-Up Bar, November 19, 2021 through January 2, 2022
The Funk Zone’s Pearl Social has been transformed into a Winter Wonderland, and now is your chance to enjoy holiday cheer inside the festive and incredibly decorated cocktail bar. Relish in over-the-top holiday decor, displays, and a cocktail menu like you’ve never sipped before. With yuletide wishes aplenty, this scene is something everyone in Santa Barbara has to see to believe. Learn More
Cost: Varies per menu item. Reservations recommended.

Virtual Holiday Cocktail Class, December 9, 2021 6 p.m.
Join The Good Lion and the Santa Barbara Independent in a virtual holiday cocktail class. Craft your very own coconut nog from the comfort of your own home, then cheers and enjoy your cocktail while senior editor Matt Kettmann hosts a fireside chat with The Good Lion’s Brandon Ristaino and Jonathan Jarrett. Tickets include a cocktail kit with enough ingredients for two cocktails and the Coconut Nog recipe. Ugly sweaters and other cheery holiday attire is encouraged! Learn More
Cost: $55/kit, 21+ only.

Christmas Pub Crawl, December 11, 2021, 2 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Don your ugliest sweaters and jolliest costumes, because it’s the most wonderful time of the year. Bounce from bar to bar in downtown Santa Barbara and enjoy drink specials all night. Bring your friends, and make new ones too this holiday season. Learn More
Cost: $5-$20/person

Festive Brunch at Angel Oak, December 18, 19, and 25 through January 2, 2022, 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.
Savor this luxury 2-hour experience with expansive ocean views, and choose from a wide selection of à la carte brunch delights. Featuring a prix fixe menu, celebrate the holidays with a culinary journey and toast to good food with family and friends. Learn More
Cost: Varies by dish. Reservations recommended.

Breakfast with Santa Claus, December 19, 2021, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
The kiddos can enjoy a festive morning as they have breakfast with Santa at Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort. Holiday cookie decorating and letters to Santa will also be available during breakfast in the Fess Parker Wine Room. Enjoy the buffet at The Roundhouse for $31, and the a la carte menu is available upon request. Learn More
Cost: Varies per menu item.

Christmas Eve at Caruso’s, December 24, 2021, 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 Eve and Day at El Encanto, A Belmond Hotel, December 24 at 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. and December 25 at 12 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Offering a timeless sense of tranquility from its vantage point high in the foothills, El Encanto, a Belmond Hotel is one of Southern California’s most iconic hotels. This Christmas, in The Dining Room & Terrace, Executive Chef Bruno Lopez offers guests a fine festive dining experience. The holiday menu includes offerings ranging from Wagyu beef tartare, butter-poached white sea bass and prime rib, and decadent holiday desserts such as chocolate yule log and sticky toffee pudding. Learn More
Cost: $125 per person, $60 per child (age 12 years and younger)

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at Angel Oak, December 24 to 25, 2021, 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. and 8 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 seaside prix fixe four course menu with holiday specials. Learn More
Cost: Varies by dish. Reservations recommended.

Christmas at the Revere Room, December 25, 2021, 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Share an unforgettable holiday repast drawn from the bounty of Southern California at Rosewood Miramar Beach. The Revere Room’s brunch buffet will pair regionally influenced Christmas classics with a cut-your-own-salad garden and an extraordinary assortment of seasonal dishes. Learn More
Cost: $145 per adult, $65 per child (ages 4 to 12 years old; children under age four dine complimentary)

Christmas at Caruso’s, December 25, 2021, 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. to 9 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 five-course prix fixe brunch. In the evening, take in views of the Pacific Ocean as you toast to the season and enjoy selections from a grand prix fixe menu with Christmas specials crafted for the occasion by Executive Chef Massimo Falsini. Learn More
Cost: $165 per adult, $65 per child (ages 4 to 12 years old; children under age four dine complimentary) 

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New Year’s Eve Events

Pop, fizz, and clink in Santa Barbara this New Year’s Eve. Ring in 2022 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.

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