Shine at Santa Barbara's Joyful Summer Solstice

Imaginative inflatables, dance-tastic troupes, and a light-of-heart-ness rule this effervescent party.

"WHAT THIS PARADE NEEDS IS...": Ever wished you could design a parade of your own, top to bottom, start to finish? It is, of course, a massive undertaking, to think it up, then book a date, and a time, and a street, and to line up everything that needs lining up, and then to find people eager to stroll in your planned procession. But if you could make up a parade from scratch, you might long to include colorful costumes and large inflatables and fluttery air-catching details and a sun-tastic spirit. If those would all be on your wish list, best step away from the drawing board for a moment, the one where you're devising your delightful event, and twirl your way to the American Riviera from June 21 through 23, 2019. For that's when the famous...

SANTA BARBARA SUMMER SOLSTICE CELEBRATION... will bloom as big as a sunflower, and as beautifully, too. For this venerable gathering, which turns 45 in 2019, has got the spirit and effervescence of a field of sunflowers, and more to spare. Why? Well, while the Saturday parade is certainly a grand centerpiece — that's where inflatables and costumes and smiles shall hold happy-making court — there are cool things to experience during the three-day to-do. And, truly, few other regional solstice events go beyond an hour-long sunrise or sunset soirée on the solstice, making this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday celebration notable for its breadth, too.

THE FESTIVAL... will reign for those three days, at Alameda Park, and food vendors, festival merch, and other stuff to see, including a "(p)hoto gallery of 'Solstice' through the years" will be on view. The incredibly colorful parade? That sparkles along State Street at noon on June 22, an hour of the day that feels as sunshiny as can be, making it perfect for the party at hand. Santa Barbara, of course, embraces its beam-laden identity throughout the year, but the sunbeams do seem to grow a bit more glittery come the Summer Solstice Celebration. Ever wondered what a field of sunflowers, a sunbeam, or the flutter of a butterfly's wing would look like if it was magically transformed into a festival and parade? You can soon find out.

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