As the saying goes, “April showers bring May flowers” and in Santa Barbara, the truth is undeniable. Spring welcomes not only a bounty of wildflowers and lush greenery that delicately drapes across the expansive mountain enclave, but also a myriad of performances and festivals to elevate your visit. This May, we invite you to relish in the excitement of so many happenings around town, and you’re sure to find an activity that suits everyone’s palate. Get energized by the expressions of local artists, taste delectable wines paired with curated dishes and don’t miss out on these events and activities happening during May.
Seasonal tip? Explore the Santa Barbara South Coast at your leisure and choose from nearly 20 local accommodations offering a third night free when you book a two-night stay. With all of the art, wine and culinary offerings to experience and epic shows to see, do yourself a favor and add on an extra night.
Spring Sipping and Snacking
It’s time to get wild at the Santa Barbara Zoo! Back by popular demand, Roar & Pour, May 7, 2022 is one of the zoo’s signature wine tasting events. Taste dozens of local varietals and view the animal residents lounging in their expansive outdoor habitats. Explore the zoo after normal hours and catch the sun setting over the Pacific from the grassy hilled venue space, glass of Pinot Noir in hand. Later in the month, partake in the first-ever, Taste of Santa Barbara, May 16-22, 2022. Hosted by Santa Barbara Culinary Experience in honor of the legendary Julia Child, revel in insightful panel discussions, creative pop-ups, film screenings, farm tours, tasting events and countless ways to connect and celebrate the best of Santa Barbara County’s culinary scene. During the same timeframe, discover your next favorite restaurant in town during Santa Barbara Restaurant Week, May 15-22, 2022. All participating restaurants will be presenting exciting pre-fixe menus priced at $30, $40 and $50. With so much to savor, be prepared to head home with a full belly and a happy heart.
Polo in Paradise
Don your finest sun hats, dresses and seersucker coats because Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club’s 2022 Sunday Polo Season kicks off May 1, 2022. Nestled in the foothills of Montecito, watch the thrilling equine sport from the grandstands and graze on a chilled charcuterie board under shaded awnings. May through October, the pristine grass and stunning mountain views make an unforgettable backdrop to gaze at while sipping champagne and cheering on the players. Level up your polo experience and book a private field-side cabana, where you will get a front-row seat to the action.
Musical performances and productions come alive at historic venues across the Santa Barbara South Coast throughout May. At the Granada Theatre, catch Fandango Picante, May 1 and 5, 2022, followed by Celtic Woman – Postcards from Ireland, May 13, 2022. Round out the month with Riffing on Gershwin, May 21-22, 2022. Over at Music Academy of the West, Met Live in HD has three performances slated for the month of May: Don Carlos on May 1, 2022, Cinderella on May 7, 2022 and then Turandot on May 15, 2022.
In the hills of the Riviera, not only can you enjoy vast views of the Pacific at the Santa Barbara Bowl, but also three thrilling shows. Lorde will be at the Bowl on May 7, 2022, The Smashing Pumpkins on May 13, 2022 and then Rainbow Kitten Surprise on May 27, 2022. Lastly, in celebration of Stearns Wharf’s 150th anniversary, Wharf Wednesday’s May 4 musical performance will feature the band Out of the Blue. Kathleen Madigan will also be drumming up some laughter at Lobero Theatre May 5, 2022.
Impact: Climate Change and the Urgency of Now
During May, the Environmental Alliance of Santa Barbara County Museums keeps going strong and exploring the impacts of climate change through art, history, science and nature. Their curated collection of family-friendly exhibits and activities aim to inform, inspire, and prompt action. Visit Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History’s exhibit “Take a Hike, Save the World” and view historic photographs and fine art to discover how Santa Barbara’s most scenic trails have been traveled over the centuries, and learn how to ensure they are preserved for generations to come. Take the whole crew to El Presidio de Santa Barbara for Family Day at the Presidio to learn about indigenous plants, Adobe architecture in the Presidio’s gardens and much more.
Santa Barbara Museum of Art’s Through Vincent’s Eyes: Van Gogh and His Sources exhibit, as well as its community partner programming, continue to enthrall in May. Join the Downtown Organization as they host Van Gogh Live Painting on Thursdays May 5-19, 2022, where attendees can watch masterpieces come to life before their very eyes. For virtual reality fans, The Night Cafe at MOXI, The Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation will occur on Saturdays May 7-21, 2022. See Van Gogh like never before and immerse yourself in his incredible world. Lastly, put your own paint skills to the test and Sip and Paint a Van Gogh at Paseo Nuevo Shopping Center on May 21, 2022.
Later in May, the fan-favorite I Madonnari Italian Street Painting Festival is back in person May 28-30, 2022. Watch as talented local artists (madonnari means “street painter” in Italian) create painted chalk artwork in front of Old Mission Santa Barbara. Artists representing a wide range of local organizations paint throughout the weekend and visitors can admire their gorgeous creations, as well as get a peek at the art process. Make a day out of it, and bring a picnic to enjoy in the A.C. Postel Memorial Rose Garden afterward. Don’t forget to stop and smell the blooming roses!