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Get Ready for Santa Barbara’s Summer Solstice Celebration


Original poster of the Summer Soltice Celebration in Santa Barbara with a yellow colorful smiling sunShakespeare called it midsummer, but Santa Barbarians know the longest day of the year as the summer solstice and, as usual, the town will be celebrating the event in style. Now in its 45th year, the annual festival takes place June 21, 22 and 23 in Alameda Park – in the center of Santa Barbara, between Anacapa and Garden Streets, and between Sola and Micheltorena Streets. The highlight event, the parade, travels down State Street beginning at noon on Saturday the 22nd.

Watch this little teaser from “A Solstice in Santa Barbara” by Justin Gunn. The short doc that takes you inside the parade and festival was featured in the 2018 Santa Barbara International Film Festival.

How Did The Summer Solstice Celebration Begin in Santa Barbara?

What is now the largest arts event in Santa Barbara started as a small birthday celebration for a popular artist and mime named Michael Gonzales. Today, it has evolved into one of the best and largest solstice celebrations in the nation. The actual parade has evolved into a creative and original display of floats, giant puppets, whimsical costumes and masks of more than 1,000 parade participants. There is dancing, music, drumming, and performances to enthrall more than 100,000 spectators from around the world. This year’s theme is Wonder.

As a 501(c)3, nonprofit, community organization, the Summer Solstice Celebration group is responsible for carrying on what began as Michael’s delightful, multicultural performing arts celebration, and ensuring an extravagant celebration of life through art for many years to come.

Read: Santa Barbara Events and Festivals: A Cornucopia of Fun

A summer solstice parade participant all dressed up with hearts on her cheek ready to celebrateEveryone is invited to enjoy a wonderfully eclectic collection of live world music, including famous local groups, food, arts and crafts for 3 full days, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Here’s a closer look at the exciting activities planned for each day:

Friday, June 21
Friday is a special evening, showcasing local talent, with music, dance and other performances. Opening night of the Summer Solstice Celebration takes place at Alameda Park from 4-9 p.m. The main stage lineup includes performances by Grooverment and Paradise Kings. Be sure to bring your dancing shoes because you can also join the fun in Yes You Can Dance Salsa, World Dance for Humanity and West African Drum and Dance.

Saturday, June 22
Besides the main event, the parade, there will also be a lot to enjoy at Alameda Park from noon to 8 p.m. One of the most interesting and exciting attractions is the display of floats. The incredible works of art line the perimeter of the park so celebrants can get up-close-and-personal with them. On the main stage, experience the La Boheme Professional Dance Association, the David Segall Band, No Simple Highway, Area 51, Grooveshine, and Superstoked. Don’t miss the special children’s festival with lots of free activities, a DJ area for dancing with techno music, and a large drum circle that will keep the beat going all afternoon. There will also be a Youth Stage on Saturday at the park in an area called Kids World featuring the Santa Barbara Youth Orchestra, Sofia Guerra, Crush Athletics, Spirals Gymnastics, Musicology Santa Barbara, exPorter and more.

Read: Butterflies Alive! Another Reason To Live in Santa Barbara

Sunday, June 23
The celebration continues: featuring jazz on the main stage from Derinkuky and Cydeways. The Children’s Parade begins at 3 p.m. at the Youth Stage at Alameda Park. Families are invited to create a costume right there specifically for the kids. The Youth Stage will feature acts like Destined Dance & Performing Arts, YD Bachata, Grupo Ose, Detar Music and more. Attendees can also relish in all the food, arts, crafts vendors, and the children’s festival going on at the same time.

What is the Summer Solstice?

In the Northern Hemisphere, the June solstice (aka summer solstice) occurs when the sun reaches both its highest and northernmost points in the sky. It marks the start of summer in the northern half of the globe like those of us who live in Santa Barbara. In contrast, the June solstice in the Southern Hemisphere is when the Sun is at its lowest point in the sky, marking the start of winter.

The word “solstice” comes from Latin solstitium—from sol (Sun) and stitium (still or stopped), reflecting the fact that on the solstice, the sun appears to stop moving in the sky as it reaches its northern-or-southernmost point. After the solstice, the sun appears to reverse course and head back in the opposite direction.

The timing of the June solstice is not based on a specific calendar date or time. Instead, it all depends on when the sun reaches its northernmost point from the equator. Therefore, the solstice won’t always occur on the same day. This year, the shift is taking place between June 20, 21, and 22.

The Summer Solstice is known as the day with the longest period of sunlight here in Santa Barbara. You will notice how the Sun appears highest in the sky at the solstice. That’s because its rays strike Earth at a more direct angle this time of year, causing the efficient warming we call summer. Because the sun is highest in the sky on this day, check out your shadow at noon. You will notice that your shadow is the shortest it will be all year long.

If you are looking for a new home where you can celebrate your life for many years to come in Montecito, Hope Ranch or another of the Santa Barbara area’s upscale communities, just give me a call at +1 (805) 886-9378 or email me at I will happily add your listing to my portfolio of amazing estates for sale and find you a new home at the same time. The summer is a great time to make your move, so let’s rejoice at the Santa Barbara Summer Solstice Celebration!


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