Santa Barbara celebrates its Spanish heritage at Old Spanish Days Fiesta.
At the first Old Spanish Days Fiesta, mayor Charles M. Andrea declared, “The spirit of old Santa Barbara shall be lived again and again and the new Santa Barbara shall give way to the traditions of the city’s founders.” He set a high standard for future Fiestas, and for 89 years the event has only gotten better.
Beginning in 1924, as an attempt to attract more summer tourism, Old Spanish Days Fiesta has expanded into an all-encompassing celebration of Spanish culture in Santa Barbara,consisting of five days of cultural, historical and entertainment events at various locations around the city. The Fiesta is both an exposition of Spanish heritage and an attempt to perpetuate and preserve the unique culture and traditions of Santa Barbara.
Some of the highlights of the fiesta include:
Originally the parade consisted of horse drawn floats depicting the earlier times of Santa Barbara, but over the years it has evolved to be more than just a retrospective. Today the parade features a historical section that pays homage to the original intentions of the parade as well as a new “Santa Barbara of Today” segment.
Noches De Ronda “Nights of Gaiety”
The “Nights of Gaiety” actually predate the Fiesta by two years. A dance group, formed by the Verhelle and Poole families, would invite community members to the Verhelle home to experience a performance of traditional singing and dancing. Since that smaller meeting of neighbors, the “Nights of Gaiety” has grown to a full-fledged variety show.
La Fiesta Pequeña “The Little Fiesta”
Part song and dance, part religious celebration, “The Little Fiesta” takes place on the steps of the old mission. This event marks the official opening of Old Spanish Days.
La Misa Del Presidente “The Mass of the President”
Patrons are encouraged to wear historical and fiesta attire to this Catholic mass. The mass is open to all faiths and there is a reception afterwards in the mission’s sacred garden.
Old Spanish Days Fiesta includes many other events that cover every aspect of the city’s Spanish Tradition. It’s a unique cultural experience for Santa Barbara natives and visitors alike.
Dates: July 31st – August 4th
Location: various locations around Santa Barbara
Phone: (805) 962-8101
WHERE TO STAY
Inn at East Beach
Whatever makes your ideal California weekend getaway, The Inn at East Beach Hotel in Santa Barbara is here to help you stay well – and well within your budget! 1029 Orilla Del Mar, Santa Barbara, CA 93103. 805-965-0546.
Spanish Garden Inn
Santa Barbara’s finest luxury boutique hotel, located downtown. 915 Garden Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93101. 805-564-4700.