ABOUT THE PARADE AND FESTIVAL

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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 the year.

The parade and festival is the largest 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.

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.  Alameda Park is where everyone can enjoy a wonderful eclectic collection of live world music including famous local groups as well as local food vendors and artists and craftspeople from around the country. The festival now runs for three days, Friday through Sunday.

Friday is a nod to "evening events of years past". It's a special evening, showcasing local talents with music, dance and performances.  Some of the parade ensembles are featured as well as all of the food booths, a wine and beer garden and delightful collection of arts and crafts vendors.

In addition to the parade, which begins  Saturday on State Street at high noon, the festivities continue in Alameda Park with free musical performances, a special free children's festival, a DJ area for dancing and enjoying techno music, a drum circle that keeps the beat going all afternoon in addition to the food booths, wine and beer garden and collection of arts and crafts vendors.

The festival is also open on Sunday and includes a delightful Children's parade.

As a 501(c)3, non profit, community arts organization, the Summer Solstice Celebration is responsible for carrying on Michael's wonderful, multicultural performing arts celebration and ensuring an extravagant celebration of life through art for many years to come.
 

PAST PARADE THEMES

1979

 

CHILDREN

1982

 

MOVEMENT

1985

 

CARNIVAL OF ILLUSION

1988

 

RHYTHM & COLOR

1991

 

FUTURE FANTASY

1994

 

HOT

1997

 

MAGIC, MYSTICS & MYSTERIES

2000

 

DANCE OF LIGHT

2003

 

SILLY

2006

 

DREAM

2009

 

SPLASH

2012

 

FANTASY

2015

 

SCI FI

2018

 

HEROES

1980

PEOPLE CELEBRATING ART THROUGH LIFE

1983

MIXED HERITAGE

1986

 

SIZE

1989

MYTHS & STORIES OF THE WORLD

1992

 

GARDEN OF THE ABSURD

1995

TOYS, CONTRAPTIONS & THINGAMAJIGS

1998

 

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

2001

 

A SPACE ODDITY

2004

 

ART IS IN THE AIR

2007

 

STARS

2010

 

CARNIVAL

2013

 

CREATURES

2016

 

LEGENDS

2019

 

WONDER

1981

 

ENSEMBLE

1984

 

PERFORMANCE

1987

 

DANCE OF LIFE

1990

 

THE SEA

1993

 

BIG

1996

 

HIGH AND LOW

1999

 

COMEDIA DEL SOL

2002

 

CIRCUS

2005

 

WILD THINGS

2008

 

SOLAR FLAIR

2011

 

JUNGLE

2014

 

GAMES

2017

 

CELEBRATING UNITY

2020

 

BEAUTIFUL EARTH

BLOOM

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Summer Solstice Theme for 2021