Old Spanish Days Dance into Santa Barbara

The famous Fiesta fêtes dance, horses, food, and more for five lively days.

CATCHING A BELOVED PARADE... as it is just starting, or a traditional dance presentation set against a centuries-old building, or calling upon a mercado that's full of finds, from jewelry to wearables to gift-cool items? Experiencing just one of those happenings can elevate the spirit and up the general atmosphere of cheer. And that exact atmosphere fills the American Riviera each early August, as it has for decades, when Old Spanish Days swirl back onto the calendar. If you know your Old-California-esque events, then you absolutely know this annual tradition, one of the jewels in the Santa Barbara calendar. That there are so many different delights to see and experience can inspire a person to call upon the fiesta for at least two or three days, though just a day, or even an afternoon, will give you a deep look at this glorious gathering. And, hurrah, it's tapping a toe and trotting a hoof through...

SUNDAY, AUG. 5: So how to soak in all of the splendor at a spectacular that'll turn 100 in under a decade? Consider hopping onto a Courthouse Fiesta Tour to learn more about the magnificent Moorish-Spanish structure, or visiting El Mercado Del Norte, for delish eats, kid to-dos, and more, or Las Noches de Rondas, "the Nights of Gaiety," at the courthouse (think fabulous flamenco and stirring notes, to start with). The Children's Parade, "El Desfile de los Niños," is a Saturday staple of Old Spanish Days, and the costumes are not to be missed, if you can make it. As for more dance, more music, more mercado-based amazingness, more ye olde canciones and modern cookery with Cal-Spanish flair? Old Spanish Days is one of our state's ultimate past-honoring, community-embracing events, and should be experienced at least once (or, yes, each and every year, if possible).

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