I love attending various annual events around the SoCal region, so I decided to add a new section on my blog called “Events and Festivals!”
So there are three events that I always look forward to on Santa Barbara County, but the one I am focusing on today and my favorite that always happens the first week in August is Old Spanish Days (aka Fiesta). It’s worth getting out of town and spending the night for.
According to the website, “Santa Barbarans have long been proud of their city’s heritage from Spanish founders and from the Spanish, Mexican and North American pioneers who first settled here and built the city. The tradition of colorful music, dance and song together with a spirit of friendliness, hospitality and tolerance are part of this heritage which the Fiesta ‘Old Spanish Days in Santa Barbara’ seeks to preserve and perpetuate.”
It really is this event that brings the whole city together for a fun and exciting time. I love running into people that I haven’t seen in awhile and just sharing a ton of laughs. I have so many great memories!
Something I love seeing is the people dressing up in Spanish dresses and other attire throughout the city. A lot of the women will also wear flowers in their hair or the men will wear sombreros. I try and look “Fiesta-y” each year and I always wear a flower in my hair.
If you are visiting and want to dress up, you can stop by Mely’s Fashion for all types of Fiesta gear like my friend Melissa in the below photo!
On Saturday and Sunday, you can start the day with a Pancake Breakfast at the Veterans’ Memorial Building off Cabrillo Blvd. This is an annual tradition that used to be hosted by the local Kiwanis Club and this is the first year the Veterans Foundation is taking it over!
One of the things I love dong is hitting up the Mercado de la Guerra right off of State Street, the main street that runs through Downtown Santa Barbara, and having myself a Churro, Agua Fresca and some Chicken Corn Tacos. I also enjoy some live entertainment with music with traditional songs and dance from Californios, Flamenco, Spanish classical and Mexican Folklorico.
I will then hit up some bars such as Casa Blanca, Joe’s Cafe and The James Joyce along State Street for my fill of Margaritas and Cerveza. My recommendation is to drink responsibly and take an Uber to and from your destination. The cops are really out in full force during this time!
My favorite part is purchasing the Cascarones along State Street, where the large majority of the festival takes place. They are eggs that have been drained of the white and yolk substance and replaced with confetti in a decorative shell! You lovingly smash/crumble the egg of top of someone’s heads and let the colorful confetti fall. It can take days or weeks to clean-up the whole city free from egg shells and confetti.
I also recommend hitting up a church called Our Lady of Guadalupe off Nopal St. for tamales. They have the most amazing authentic tamales that I have ever had in my life! For the kids, you can check out the Mercado del Norte at Mackenzie Park, which has entertainment, a carnival and rides. You can also check out the historic Courthouse for tours, a rodeo at Earl Warren Showgrounds, dance and song during Las Noches de Ronda at the Courthouse and the Historical Parade along State Street on Friday at noon.
Something I also like to do at the end of Fiesta on the last day (Sunday) is enjoy classical music from the West Coast Symphony Orchestra. It’s the perfect way to relax and unwind from the week long festivities.
I hope you make your way to Santa Barbara this weekend! As the saying goes for the week, Viva La Fiesta! 🙂
Photo credit: John Palminteri