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TRAVEL BLOG

Downtown Santa Barbara’s Unofficial Holiday: It’s Fiesta Days!

Starting tomorrow afternoon, folks will be setting up chairs in front of our Santa Barbara office on State Street.  Why?  It’s Fiesta Days!  Fiesta is Santa Barbara’s answer to Mardi Gras, and takes place over five full days every year the first week in August.

This year marks the 91st anniversary of the Fiesta Parade. Celebrating Santa Barbara’s rancho period of history, the parade is filled with old Spanish regalia and gorgeous costumes.  It is also one of the nation’s largest equestrian parades, featuring over 600 horses, as well as many antique carriages, coaches and wagons.

The Santa Barbara Fiesta Historical Parade is one of the nation's largest equestrian parades

The Santa Barbara Fiesta Historical Parade is one of the nation’s largest equestrian parades

It’s estimated that last year over 75,000 people watched the Fiesta Parade pass through downtown Santa Barbara.  We can believe it, as the sidewalks in front of our State Street office begin filling up early. By the start of the parade, on Friday at noon, they are packed wall to wall, with locals and visitors of all ages.

 

The enthusiastic Fiesta Parade crowds are wall to wall along State Street, including in front of Santa Barbara Travel Bureau's office

The enthusiastic Fiesta Parade crowds are wall to wall along State Street, including in front of Santa Barbara Travel Bureau’s office

 

During the 2-3 hour parade, most businesses along State Street are closed. There’s an exuberant air of celebration, with  mariachi bands wandering the streets to serenade visitors, local Mexican street food for sale, and confetti eggs or ‘cascarones’ also available for purchase.  Cascarones are beautifully crafted and decorated paper eggs – they’re cracked  over the heads of your friends, or saved as unique souvenirs.

The sale of 'cascarones' or confetti filled eggs are a firm tradition of the Santa Barbara Fiesta Parade.  Sometimes they're so beautifully hand crafted and decorated it makes you want to save them, instead of cracking them on someone's head.

The sale of ‘cascarones’ or confetti filled eggs are a firm tradition of the Santa Barbara Fiesta Parade. Sometimes they’re so beautifully hand crafted and decorated it makes you want to save them, instead of cracking them on someone’s head.