Worth the Drive
Our daily look at nearby getaways

Solstice Up the Coast: Large, Long-Running, and Joyous

The costume-filled parade is just one of the highlights of the party.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Santa Barbara Summer Solstice
    The Santa Barbara Summer Solstice dances down State Street on Saturday, June 22. Want to go to the festival? That runs from June 21-23.

    SUMMER'S BIG DAY: Summer solstice has been celebrated since about the time that a) the summer solstice started and b) there were people around to notice and celebrate. Stonehenge is a big draw, famously so, for the longest day of the year, but so are many spiritual and important sites throughout the world. In California? Some people might head for the redwoods or Yosemite, the better to see the sun rise over Half Dome, but the big party is in Santa Barbara. Make that the big, nearly four-decade-old party; the Santa Barbara Summer Solstice kicked off in 1974 and has been doing a happy samba down State Street ever since.

    CREATIVE ORIGINS: The celebration began to honor the birthday of a local mime and artist. Seriously. This is a marvelous bit of local history, and a marvelous bit of mime history, too. Is it a coincidence that the city, famously called one of the best cities in the country time and again, has a major party that owes its existence to a mime? All we're unsubtly saying here is if you support the arts and a bit of outlandishness, it can enhance your civic character. Pretty obvious.

    THIS YEAR'S PARADE... has a theme, as every Summer Solstice parade has since 1979. The theme is "Creatures," and you can bet that parade participants will take that seriously. Costumes are usually over-the-top and highly colorful, and streamers and floaty things on strings fill State Street. Past themes we love have included "Hot" and "Silly." 

    THIS YEAR'S SOLSTICE: The parade will march on Saturday, June 22; the festival flows from June 21-23 at Alameda Park. Oh, and we called it big, and we mean it: Some 100,000 solstice celebrators are in attendance over the three-day weekend.