The Summer Solstice Celebration, now in its 50th year, has grown into Santa Barbara County's largest arts event. The Parade drew crowds of over 70,000 spectators this year, an estimated total of 100,000 attendees including the three day art and music festival. This spectacular celebration of the arts, community and the longest day of the year showcases the artistic talents of local and regional artists. The Festival in Alameda Park grew from the earlier gatherings at the sunken gardens of the County Courthouse.
Solstice is unique in the way it engages the community in the creation of this annual Parade. We invite the community to participate in the 2-month workshop at the CAW, staffed with profession artists, equipped with tools and supplies to create original works of art. People from all walks of life come together to participate in the celebration of life and community to create this people-powered parade. There are no motorized vehicles, no words, no signs, no symbols..
If art is a superfood for the Soul, celebration and connection are essential nutrients which reflect the health of a society
What Solstice brings to the community and the world is connection, creativity, joy, playfulness, and opportunity, in addition to filling hotels and restaurants, supporting local artists and artisans, giving the underserved opportunities to have a hands-on experience, learn new skills, and spending thousands of dollars in local businesses in the production.
From humble beginnings arose a celebration of life with its creative and original display of floats, 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.
This year featured the return of the Children’s Mini Fest & Parade, and the new CommUnity and Roots of Culture Zone, where information booths were offered free to those doing good work in our community. The SB Bowl CommUnity Stage, also new this year, featured youth performers, performances for youth. 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.