The 2016 Parade Theme “Legends”

Parade image


Summer Solstice Parade began in 1974, as a birthday celebration for a popular artist and mime named Michael Gonzales. In subsequent years, their parade joined forces with a Summer Solstice Music Festival coordinated by Michael Felcher, sponsored by The Santa Barbara Museum of Art, staged at the Sunken Gardens to celebrate the longest day of year. 

The Parade and Festival is the largest arts event in Santa Barbara County, drawing crowds of over 100,000 spectators from around the world. From these humble beginnings arose a celebration of life which, is like no other. 

Today, the Summer Solstice Celebration has evolved into creative and original display of floats, giant puppets, whimsical costumes and masks of more than 1,000 parade participants, of all ethnic and economic backgrounds. There is dancing, music, drumming and drama that enthralls the spectators. Each year there is an annual artistic competition for the Solstice T-shirt and Poster design that is sold as a fundraising vehicle for the event. Visit our Solstice Store or Poster Gallery today to purchase T-shirts and posters.

The Festival in Alameda Park grew from the earlier gatherings at the sunken gardens of the County Courthouse. When the number of people outgrew the size of the courthouse the event was moved to Alameda Park. The Alameda Park is where everyone can enjoy a wonderful eclectic collection of live world music including famous local groups, food, arts and crafts. On Saturday only is a special free children’s festival and a DJ area for dancing and enjoying techno music and a large drum circle keeps the beat going all afternoon. The festival now opens on Friday afternoon, which is like the “evening events of years past.”  It’s a special evening, showcasing local talents with music, dance, performances.  Some of the parade ensembles are featured as well as all of the food booths, arts and crafts vendors. As a 501(c)3, nonprofit, community organization, the Summer Solstice Celebration group is responsible for carrying on Michael’s delightful, multicultural performing arts celebration, and ensuring an extravagant celebration of life through art for many years to come.

Past Parade Themes

First year with a theme

1979       Children
1980       People Celebrating Art Through Life
1981       Ensemble
1982       Movement
1983       Mixed heritage
1984       Performance
1985       Carnival of Illusion
1986       Size
1987       Dance of Life
1988       Rhythm & Color
1989       Myths and Stories of the World
1990       The Sea
1991       Future Fantasy
1992       Garden of the Absurd
1993       Big
1994       Hot
1995       Toys, contraptions & thingamajigs
1996       High and Low
1997       Magic Mystics & Mysteries
1998       Food for Thought
1999       Comedia del Sol
2000       Dance of Light
2001       2001 A Space Oddity
2002       Circus
2003       Silly
2004       Art is in the Air
2005       Wild Things
2006       Dream
2007       Stars
2008       Solar Flair
2009       Splash
2010       Carnival
2011       Jungle
2012       Fantasy
2013       Creatures
2014       Games
2015       SCI FI


“Without a doubt, the Summer Solstice parade is the most artistically creative and outrageous event in Santa Barbara, and one of the most fun.”

– Santa Barbara Family Life

“Every June, Santa Barbara celebrates summer with a spectacle that invites you to check your adulthood at the door.”

- Sunset Magazine

“Draws throngs with a PG-13 rated type of Mardi Gras madness.”

– SkyWest Magazine

“Ancient people have ritualized the height of summer in creative ways for eons:…in modern day Santa Barbara, the people do (Summer) Solstice.”

– Santa Barbara News-Press

“The day is a triumph of collaboration as well as creativity.”

– Sunset Magazine

“ Summer Solstice Celebration and Parade encompasses a lavish procession, music festival, arts and crafts and much more. It also ushers in a season of celebration as diverse as Santa Barbara’s heritage”

– Fabulous Festivals Feature - SkyWest Magazine

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