It’s December and there is so much going on in Santa Barbara this time of the year! From holiday markets and parades to wine tours and concerts, there is something for everyone in the American Riviera. If you still need gift ideas, don’t forget about Santa Barbara Adventure Company’s gift certificates…everyone wants a kayaking trip in the Channel Islands or a wine and bike tour for Christmas? As the year comes to a close, we would like to wish all of our friends and guests a happy and healthy holiday season. Enjoy the events below, cheers!
- Sea Cave Kayaking – Santa Cruz Island, December 21st – January 5th
Kayak at Scorpion Anchorage and explore the Channel Islands National Park. This location offers some of the most beautiful sea caves in the world! Santa Cruz Island is renowned for its incredible island kayaking, native wildlife, and hiking opportunities.
- Downtown Holiday Parade – Friday, December 6, 6:30pm; Downtown Santa Barbara
This signature event, in its 67th year, brings together locals and visitors alike in cheering on a colossal contingent of high-stepping marching bands, bright and colorful holiday floats, spectacular performance groups, local personalities, the Grand Marshal and, of course…Santa Claus full of holiday cheer atop his festive sleigh.
- Parade of Lights and Santa Village on the Pier – Sunday, December 8, 5:30pm; Santa Barbara Waterfront
Families have the opportunity to visit Santa’s Village event on the City Pier (beginning at 3:00pm) featuring a visit from Santa, ten tons of snow and holiday music. The annual boat parade begins with multiple vessels sailing the Santa Barbara Coastline with judging taking place at Stearns Wharf. The event culminates with a fireworks display.
Winter is the perfect time to enjoy fine wine and beautiful scenery in the Central Coast wine region. Voted “Santa Barbara’s Best Wine Tour” 2 years consecutively, choose between wine country biking tours, wine and cupcake pairing tours, or shuttle service tours, it’s the perfect holiday activity. Please call or visit the website to book in advance. Group discounts are available.
- Finger Paint Snow Leopard – Santa Barbara Zoo, Saturday or Sunday, December 7-8, 23, 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m
Stop by the Explore Store at the Santa Barbara Zoo for an easy craft that’s fun for all ages! In the spirit of the holidays, guests can create beautiful snowflakes and wreaths.
- An Irish Christmas, Lobero Theatre – Sunday, December 8, 2:30 p.m.
Take a journey through Christmas in Ireland with superb dancing, singing and Irish traditional music celebrating the international spirit of the holiday season.
- Santa Barbara Arts & Crafts Show, – Waterfront, every Sunday
Approximately 300 Santa Barbara County resident artists come to display their own works in an informal atmosphere under the palms of seaside Chase Palm Park. All items are original art, created by the artists you meet. The show is held every fair weather Sunday and Saturday and Sunday of Christmas weekend. Time: 10 a.m. until dusk.
- First Thursday — Art, Music & Theater, Thursday, December 5, 5 p.m. – 8 p.m
On the first Thursday of each month, downtown galleries keep their doors open late allowing the public to enjoy local art in a fun and social atmosphere. Additional attractions such as music, artist openings, demonstrations, and refreshments are featured at participating venues in Downtown Santa Barbara. This December’s theme is “Happy Holidays – Colors of the Season.
- Downtown Santa Barbara Farmers Market – Every Saturday and Tuesday, 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m/4:00pm- 7:30pm
Come down and buy local fresh vegetables, fruits, flowers, small plants and specialty items. Street musicians, music and downtown shops and restaurants. Year round, rain or shine.
- The Beach! all day, every day
It is California after all, and every day is a beach day here. The surf generally gets bigger this time of year, and locals are always excited for the winter season. New to the sport? Lessons are a blast and most people “get up” within their first half-hour of learning – sign up for a lesson here.
Anything we missed? Please add events and activities in the comment section below.
*Last updated November 8, 2019