Every year since 1924 Santa Barbara has celebrated its Spanish heritage during a week in August designated as Fiesta Days. This includes music, dancing, shopping in the street fair and watching the largest equestrian parade on the West Coast.
It also means streets crowded with pedestrians and strolling Mariachi bands. But Santa Barbara is still a small college town, so traffic never gets overwhelming and public parking is available and inexpensive.
Also at this time of year the concert schedule of the Music Academy of the West is in full swing. I was a student at the academy back in 1991, but I’d forgotten just how high the level of performance was. My Mom and I went to see “The Rake’s Progress”, a Stravinsky opera that presents a challenge to professionals in its musical complexity, and I have to say I was impressed with the quality of the singers and the orchestra. Any regional professional company would be proud of a production on this level. The next night my Dad joined us (he’d begged off the opera on account of, well, Stravinsky) at a fine performance by the Academy Chamber Orchestra conducted by Nicholas McGeegan (I also have a history with this conductor, having done a series of concerts and a recording with him in San Francisco).
We all enjoyed the parade at the beach, especially the horses marching in unison.
There were also some costumes that looked to be from the Revolutionary War period;
and of course several “Wild West” stagecoaches
and the typical parade element – pretty ladies waiving from a float:
But the best thing about Santa Barbara in August is the weather. It’s sunny but not hot, and not at all humid. Perfect weather for a relaxing holiday in a comfortable hotel with a balcony overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
Thanks to my parents for sponsoring this trip.Google+