Line-Up of Holiday Festivities to Usher in Holiday Season in Santa Barbara County

Parades on land and sea, festivals, concerts and more on tap beginning this weekend

Sunday night’s Parade Lights at the Santa Barbara Harbor is just one of many local holiday events planned over the next couple weeks.

Sunday night’s Parade Lights at the Santa Barbara Harbor is just one of many local holiday events planned over the next couple weeks. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

Over 50,000 people are expected to line State Street Friday night to get a glimpses of the Santa Barbara Downtown Organization’s Holiday Parade, and the Christmas cheer will continue throughout the month with a host of holiday activities scheduled throughout the community.

Maggie Campbell, executive director of the Downtown Organization, said that more than 3,000 participants will take place in this year’s parade, the 63rd in the organization’s history.

The theme this year is “World A’Glow,” and attendees are encouraged to wear or bring items that glow to add to the festivities, Campbell said.

Twenty-five staffers and over 80 volunteers have been working on the parade to bring it to fruition on Friday night.

“We’ve been working on this for six months,” she said. “It’s our gift to the community. We really have a lot of fun doing it.”

The parade will begin at 6:30 p.m., and Campbell encouraged parade attendees to come down to State Street and “make a night of it,” enjoying dinner downtown as well as holiday shopping.

The parade will span State Street from Sola to Cota streets, and parking is free in any of the city lots during the parade, she said.

Also kicking off Friday night is the 11th Annual Westmont Christmas Festival, which will be held at First Presbyterian Church, 21 E. Constance Ave.

Music concerts will be held Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m.

Also taking place nearby throughout the month, Paseo Nuevo mall is hosting a “nightly snowfall,” Monday through Saturday at 7 p.m. at 651 Paseo Nuevo in the center court area, where snow will fall on the large Christmas tree.

The snow will also fall on Sundays at 5 and 6 p.m.

The courtyard will also host live entertainment and Santa visits and photos for children, a schedule of which can be seen here.

Also on Friday night, the Julefest Tree Lighting Ceremony will be taking place in Solvang Park from 5 to 6:30 p.m., where music and dancing will take place along with a tree lighting.

On Saturday, Montecito Country Mart, 1016 Coast Village Road, will be welcoming visitors with 13 pop-up shops full of seasonal offerings, along with food offerings and complimentary valet parking and gift wrapping.

Activities for children will also be taking place on Dec. 5, 12 and 19, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., where small visitors can enjoy pony rides, face painting and pictures with Santa.

On Saturday and Sunday, Santa Barbara’s Public Market will be holding its Second Annual Holiday Festival, which will include a host of family-friendly activities like photos with Santa, free cookie decorating, classes and holiday caroling.

The market will be partnering with the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County, and will be raising money on Sunday, Dec. 6, where a tasting passport from local merchants can be purchased for five dollars.

For a complete schedule of the market’s event line-up, click here.

On Sunday night, the 30th Annual Parade of Lights will take place as 25 boats show off their holiday decor beginning at 5:30 p.m.

This year’s theme for the event is “A Red, White & Blue Holiday” and is a tribute to local veterans.  Admission is free and viewers are invited to catch the best viewing location on Stearns Wharf and the breakwater.

The boating event will be preceded by a Santa’s Village event beginning at 3 p.m. on the City Pier in Santa Barbara Harbor, where children are invited to play in the snow and take a photo with Santa.

On Dec. 11, the Goleta Valley Community Center will host its holiday tree lighting from 5:30 to 7 p.m. The event is open to the public and will feature refreshments and entertainment, as well as an appearance by Santa.

On Saturday, Dec. 12, Carpinteria will be hosting its Holiday Spirit Parade at 3 p.m.

The parade route will start at 9th Street, turn left on Linden Avenue, continue up Linden Avenue, u-turn at the corner of Linden and Carpinteria Avenue and turn on to 6th Street to end at Parking Lot 1.

The Milpas Holiday Parade will also be held on Dec. 12 starting at 5:30 p.m.

That parade will begin at Canon Perdido and proceed down Milpas Street to Mason Street, and will feature live performances, children’s groups and classic cars.