Old Spanish Days, also known as "Fiesta" to the locals, is Santa Barbara's most cherished cultural festival. This celebration of the city’s heritage pays tribute to the Spanish, Mexican and North American pioneers who first settled here. Since 1924, Santa Barbara residents and visitors have enjoyed a weeklong celebration that incorporates traditional dance, music, costumes, food and drink and multiple parades!
In honor of the 90th anniversary of Old Spanish Days, the Santa Barbara Historical Museum has curated a special exhibit called Project Fiesta! that showcases the colorful history of this grand event. The exhibit includes vintage photographs, one-of-a-kind artwork, restored costumes and other artifacts from Fiestas past. See what has changed and what has stayed the same over the years.
Visit Project Fiesta! to view photos of past Old Spanish Days performances — Photo courtesy of Damian Gadal
Project Fiesta! represents an ongoing effort by the museum to chart the history of this event. The size and scope of the exhibit will continue to grow as additional materials are collected from the community. Project Fiesta! complements the museum's permanent exhibit, The Story of Santa Barbara, a display that traces the history of the town from its Chumash roots until present day.
The Project Fiesta! exhibit will remain on display until the end of September 2014, but if you want to catch some live Old Spanish Days action, plan to be in the Santa Barbara area between July 30 and Aug. 3. Can't make it? Fiesta usually takes place the first weekend in August of every year, so now is the time to start planning for 2015. We're serious; Santa Barbara hotels book up quickly for this extra special event!
Guests are encouraged to contribute to Project Fiesta! If you have pictures, stories or other treasures from past fiesta celebrations, email firstname.lastname@example.org to share your memories. And join the fun on social media by tagging your photos with #projectfiesta.
The Santa Barbara Historical Museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Sunday from noon until 5 p.m. The museum is closed on Mondays. Admission is free. Park for a limited time on the street, or plan for a longer stay and park in a nearby city lot.
Many other attractions are within easy walking distance of the museum, as well as a wide array of shops and restaurants. To continue your cultural day tripping, head up the road to the Santa Barbara Museum of Art to view Portrait of Mexico Today, the only intact mural by world-renowned Mexican muralist David Alfaro Siqueiros.