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Fiesta Santa Barbara Historical Parade

by Penny Sadler

I love a good parade – don’t you? One of the best parades I’ve ever seen is in Santa Barbara during the “Old Spanish Days Fiesta” celebrations. This year should be an especially good one, as it’s the ninetieth anniversary of the Fiesta Santa Barbara Historical Parade, although they are all good.

The parade commemorates the history and culture of the Native Americans and Spanish-speaking Mexicans who originally settled the area. Santa Barbara is a truly unique city that has retained and nurtured its Spanish/Mexican heritage.

Old Spanish Days
is one big colorful party. This year, it begins on July 31 and ends on August 3rd, 2014. The parade is on Friday, August 1st.
Aside from the parade, if you are in Santa Barbara discover the markets, parties,concerts, rodeos, regional food, wine, and shopping. For architecture lovers be sure to take a tour of the courthouse and the Old Mission Santa Barbara.

Fiesta Santa Barbara @PennySadler 2014

Fiesta Historical Parade, Santa Barbara

Fiesta parade Santa Barbraa @PennySadler 2014

Past President’s Float

Fiesta Historiacl Parade

Love these smiling ladies


From the Old Spanish Days website:



“Our tradition of handsome horses, expert equestrians, rodeo competitions with skillful cowboys, singing and dancing and delight in welcoming visitors: these are the things we commemorate and celebrate in our Old Spanish Days as they have been treasured in our community for over 180 years.
To this purpose we dedicate our ninetieth year of Santa Barbara’s Fiesta. If during the days you spend with us enjoying the music, dance and fun, you leave with a deeper appreciation of our history and of the traditions of our earlier cultures, our efforts will have been rewarded.”

Fiesta Historical Parade @PennySadler 2014

Pretty ladies – Fiesta Historical Parade

Fiesta Parade Santa Barbara @PennySadler 2014

Vacquero riding in the Fiesta Parade

Flower girls, Fiesta Santa Barbara @PennySadler 2014

Flower girls lead the parade

And don’t forget, Santa Barbara is known as the American Riviera – you can go swimming, surfing, and play volleyball on some of the most pristine beaches anywhere, or just enjoy the million dollar views from a outdoor table at one of the harbor cafes.

Part of the fun of going to the parade is getting dressed up in a western or Mexican inspired wardrobe that might seem out of place anywhere else, but seems just right at the parade. Really anything goes – it’s the place to wear that big sombrero you purchased on vacation in Mexico (now gathering dust on a shelf), or full on western wear including chaps and spurs. I’ve seen it all at the parade. I’m getting geared up for
the parade now, planning what I’m going to wear. (Don’t worry if you don’t have anything or playing dress up just isn’t for you, plenty of people go in that good old American standard, shorts and t-shirts.)

Fiesta parade Santa Barbara @PennySadler

Fun wardrobe

Now do you see how beautiful this parade is – the horses, the costumes, all set against the charming Spanish architecture of Santa Barbara. Come back in August to see photos from this year’s upcoming Fiesta Historical Parade.

Fiesta Santa Barbara @PennySadler 2014

A Fiesta tradition, breaking a confetti egg

VIVA LA FIESTA!

Fiesta Santa Barbara @PennySadler 2014

The girls are ready to party

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20 comments

Santa Barbara California Wine Country September 26, 2014 at 4:01 pm

[…] July, I was in Santa Barbara for Fiesta and some wine tasting in the Santa Ynez Valley. I’d been to several wineries in the Valley on […]

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Fiesta Santa Barbara: Photo Essay - Adventures of a Carry-On August 9, 2014 at 1:22 pm

[…] written a lot about the Fiesta Santa Barbara Historical Parade in previous articles, so I’m just going to get on with sharing the newest […]

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Mary @ Green Globa Travel June 24, 2014 at 3:15 pm

Great photos. I love parade wear the participants dress-up too! Thanks for sharing the history behind the parade.

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Penny Sadler June 24, 2014 at 3:23 pm

so much more fun that way!

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Theodora June 21, 2014 at 9:37 pm

My lord, that’s a colourful and well-organised parade. Feels really retro, optimistic, in a 1950s sort of way.

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Penny Sadler June 24, 2014 at 3:25 pm

It is! So fun!

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Casey June 18, 2014 at 4:19 pm

Beautiful! Reminds me of Feria de Abril in Sevilla 🙂 Especially with the beautiful dresses and hair.

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Penny Sadler June 20, 2014 at 9:48 am

Many people have commented how much it reminds them of Spain. That’s no accident. 🙂

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Lillie - @WorldLillie June 18, 2014 at 4:18 pm

Your photos are such a delight, especially the confetti one! I had no idea about this festival. Thanks for letting us know!

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Penny Sadler June 20, 2014 at 9:48 am

Thanks Lillie. Yes the confetti is fun!

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Gran Canaria Local June 18, 2014 at 11:41 am

We’re seeing some Andalucian influences there as well as Mexicans. Lovely photos, as always, Penny. Full of colour.

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Penny Sadler June 20, 2014 at 9:49 am

The city really embraces its heritage. Nice to see!

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Sand In My Suitcase June 17, 2014 at 1:04 pm

This looks like a fun parade – so colorful! We haven’t visited Santa Barbara, but we hear it’s lovely.

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Penny Sadler June 20, 2014 at 9:55 am

It is!

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Valen-Eating The Globe June 16, 2014 at 1:14 am

Great picture of the confetti egg! Looks like a fun parade…

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Penny Sadler June 20, 2014 at 9:55 am

The confetti eggs are good fun.

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Jessie Voigts June 15, 2014 at 9:10 pm

Love this – what colors and fun! Can’t wait to see the photos from this year’s parade, too!

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Penny Sadler June 20, 2014 at 9:54 am

I can’t wait to go to the parade this year! Thanks for the comments.

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noel June 15, 2014 at 7:03 pm

that’s a gorgeous parade, i love horse units and their riders in full costume, beautiful. thanks for sharing these Penny

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Penny Sadler June 20, 2014 at 9:54 am

Part of the beauty is the scenery in the background.

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