Old Spanish Days in Santa Barbara

Yes, its that time of year again…. Fiestas!   Every year Santa Barbara prepares to celebrate Old Spanish Days.  Stages are set up, restaurants stock up, young girls prepare for salsa performances, State St is decorated with colorful decorations and kids save up their quarters to buy confetti filled eggs stuffed in a plastic bag.

Kids in Santa Barbara The celebration is filled with Santa Barbara’s best tacos, tortas , burritos, beer and tequila.  Is it just another reason/excuse for people to party during the week? Maybe.  But you can’t deny the great food, drinks and memories fiestas produces with old friends and family.  As a local kid, you grow up looking forward to fiestas, not just because its probably one of the only times you can crack an egg filled with confetti over someone’s head and not get in trouble, but because it brings families and friends together to celebrate a past time, a tradition that exist only in Santa Barbara.

It kicks off Wednesday at the Mission with colorful performances, blanket filled lawns and local families eager to watch their Santa Barbara Mission children perform.  As night falls, the lights begin to shine bright.  The Mission in the background is something straight out of a painting.  It’s the perfect kickoff to a long-standing tradition.

As the week progresses, the events pile on.  Friday and Saturday are all about the parades.  Mid day on State Street you can’t walk five feet without seeing a kid with a Pancho Villa mustache grinning from ear to ear during the children’ parade.  Saturday is the day to explore and enjoy the food.  McKenzie Park, Guadalupe Church and De la Guerra plaza all provide local restaurant vendors, performers and games for the children and adults to enjoy.  It’s the perfect way to pass the time on Saturday.

But of course, you can’t forget about the nightlife.  Everyone dresses up in their best clothes as if they’re heading for a night out in Vegas to celebrate Santa Barbara’s big night of fiestas celebration.  Drinks are poured, jokes are told and high school memories are reminisced about.  Slowly the night comes to a close and Fiestas is only 23 hours away from reaching its final hour.

As you sit at Sunday brunch with old high school friends and family, you can’t help but feel the togetherness and feeling of home Santa Barbara produces.  It’s a sense of home that’s hard to deny.  That’s when you realize that Old Spanish Days isn’t just another reason to drink and eat.  Rather it’s a celebration of Santa Barbara as a city and the beautiful place it has become.

If you have not experienced Old Spanish Days in Santa Barbara, I strongly recommend you pencil it into your calendar for the year to come.



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