Something is always happening at UCSB. The quality and quantity of arts and entertainment to be found on campus alone is amazing—when you add the variety of downtown events, the calendar is staggering. You could do something interesting and fun every night of the academic year (if you didn’t have to study). The best information resources are the local newspapers: the Daily Nexus covers most campus events; the Independent (free weekly newspaper), and the Friday edition of the Santa Barbara News-Press has details about the arts and entertainment downtown as well; however, it’s a good idea to cross-check your information: call to confirm dates and times, especially for movies. And keep your eyes open—posters and flyers all over campus will alert you to upcoming events.
University Galleries and Museums
The University Art Museum is an internationally-known institution with an active program of special exhibitions and an outstanding permanent collection. It is located on Storke Plaza adjacent to the UCen. The College of Creative Studies Gallery (893-2364) displays changing exhibitions, often comprised of work by its faculty and students. The Women’s Center Gallery sponsors solo and group shows by women artists. Gallery 1434 in the Arts Building features work by undergraduate and graduate students.
Arts & Lectures
The Arts & Lectures program presents more than 200 public events each year in Campbell Hall and other on-campus locations. These events include music, dance, and theater from classic to avant-garde to popular; dozens of free lectures that address topics of great diversity by leaders in the arts, sciences, politics, and industry; film screenings that bring to UCSB the best cinema the world has to offer free brochures with all the details are available at the beginning of each quarter. Tickets can be purchased online or at the Arts & Lectures Ticket Office.
A.S. Program Board
Throughout the year, A.S. Program Board sponsors various types of entertainment. Most events are free or at a nominal cost to UCSB students. Events include comedy shows, advance screenings of first-run movies, lectures, and cultural programs. The board also presents concerts, films, and special events. Located at UCen 1519.
A.S. Ticket Office (ASTO)
The A.S. Ticket Office provides UCSB students with a wide variety of tickets to on-campus and off-campus events, some sponsored by A.S. Program Board. Also, tickets are sold for other special events, such as discount tickets to Magic Mountain. In addition, the ASTO has a cashiering service and can provide Emergency Student Loans. ASTO can also provide ticket sellers for on-campus events. Located at UCen 1535.
UCSB offers a variety of live performances for students and the general public every quarter. On-campus events are usually staged in both the Studio and Hatlen Theatres in the Theater and Dance Building, and in the Performing Arts Theatre in Humanities and Social Sciences Building. All students who are interested in performing may audition.
Hundreds of current and classic movies are shown on campus each year. UCSB Arts & Lectures presents one or two film series each quarter in Campbell Hall and Isla Vista Theater. The Magic Lantern Film series which screens both critically acclaimed and cult films Friday nights at Isla Vista Theater. Watch for ads in the Daily Nexus and posters on campus kiosks.
The UCSB Music Department offers outstanding concerts every year, many of them in Lotte Lehmann Concert Hall, featuring diverse groups such as the University Symphony, Opera Theatre, Cappella Cordina, the UCSB Gospel Choir, UCSB Chamber Choir, the Ensemble for Contemporary Music, World Music Ensembles, and others. Majors and non-majors are welcome to audition for many of these groups. For further information, please contact the Music Office located in Music 1315; (805) 893-3261.
UCSB offers a variety of live presentations for students and the general public every quarter. On-campus events are usually staged in both the Studio and Hatlen Theatres in Snidecor Hall, and in the Performing Arts Theatre in Humanities and Social Sciences Building. All students who are interested in performing may audition.
UCSB Athletic Events
UCSB students receive FREE admission to all UCSB Athletic events. The UCSB Athletic Department hosts over 150 on-campus events annually, including Men’s and Women’s Basketball in the Thunderdome. Gaucho athletic events are not only entertaining, but they are a great way to relax and blow off steam. Schedules for athletic events are available at the UCSB Bookstore among other places, as well as online at the official website of UCSB Athletics.
Arlington Center for the Performing Arts
A former movie palace of the 1930s, the Arlington features stage presentations, movies, and rock, jazz, and symphony concerts. It’s a truly amazing building where you watch events from the courtyard of a small Spanish town under a starry blue sky—don’t miss it! The Arlington is also home to a 1928 Pipe Organ that has 1,800 pipes and can produce sound effects to accompany silent movies as well as beautiful music. Located at 1317 State Street.
Santa Barbara Arts and Crafts Show
The Santa Barbara Arts and Crafts Show has been attracting visitors from around the world for more than 35 years. Whatever the size, subject, media and price, all artwork sold is original art created by the approximately 290 Santa Barbara County artists who display their artwork here. The informal atmosphere encourages visitors to the show to talk with the artists about their work and often see them in action.
Earl Warren Showgrounds
Throughout the year there are a variety of events, from horse shows and concerts to clothing sales and craft fairs, at the Showgrounds. It is also the home of the annual Santa Barbara Fair and Expo, usually held in April. Located on.Las Positas Road at Highway 101.
La Casa de la Raza
La Casa de la Raza is home to art exhibits, cultural presentations, international ethnic concerts, drama, and folklore presentations performed throughout the year. Located at 601 E. Montecito Street.
The theater offers year-round programs of drama, concerts, dance, films, and lectures. Located at 33 East Canon Perdido.
For a complete listing of what’s playing today, check the Independent, other local newspapers or search online.
Museum of Natural History
Exhibits, educational programs, and research focus on the flora, fauna, and geology of the Pacific Coast and Channel Islands. Dioramas illustrate prehistoric life of native peoples in the local environment. A planetarium and library are open to the public. Located at 2559 Puesta del Sol.
Many theater organizations in Santa Barbara regularly schedule live performances of local and touring companies ranging from serious drama to comedy, improvisation, mime and dance. Some companies also welcome local talent.
- Arlington Theatre
- Center Stage Theatre
- Circle Bar B Dinner Theatre
- Ensemble Theatre Project
- Garvin Theatre (Santa Barbara City College)
- Lobero Theatre
- Solvang Theaterfest
Santa Barbara Bowl
This beautiful outdoor amphitheater is the site of rock concerts and other events. Watch the local newspapers for announcements of upcoming concerts or call the ticket office. The Bowl also offers volunteer opportunities. Located at 1122 N. Milpas St.
Santa Barbara Historical Museum and Gledhill Library
The museum is home to a permanent collection of artifacts from Santa Barbara’s Spanish, Mexican, and American periods with changing exhibits on local history. Admission is free but contributions are welcome. The Gledhill Library is open to the public for research. It has a large collection of photographs, documents, and books relating to the local area. Located at 136 E. De La Guerra Street.
Santa Barbara Museum of Art
The Santa Barbara Museum of Art, one of southern California’s finest art museums, features nationally recognized collections and special exhibitions of international importance. Highlights of the Museum’s remarkable permanent collection include antiquities; 19th-century French, British and American art; 20th-century and contemporary European, North American and Latin American art; Asian art; photography, and works on paper. Museum visitors will also enjoy the interactive children’s gallery, the café and the Museum Store. Located at 1130 State Street.
UCSB Activities Faire
The annual Activities Faire, co-sponsored by the Office of Student Life and Orientation Programs, is held in mid-October. This lively event highlights special presentations and information tables by campus organizations and departments. This is a wonderful opportunity for campus organizations to recruit new members and for interested students to find ways to become involved at UCSB.
All Hall Ball
This event, held usually during Winter Quarter, is one of the biggest events that RHA puts on during the year. The ball is held off campus in a secret location and participants don’t know where they are going until they arrive at the event. RHA works hard to keep ticket prices down. Dance, beverages and food are provided in a cool setting.
Cultural Celebration Weeks
Every spring quarter, students celebrate a variety of cultures represented in the student body at UCSB during different weeks: African American Culture Week, Asian/Asian American/Pacific Islander Culture Week, Chicano/Latino Culture Week, Native American Culture Week, and Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual Pride Week. Some activities include traditional dance performances, lectures, panels, and films. Look for fliers during spring quarter, or call EOP at (805) 893-4758, the MultiCultural Center at (805) 893-8411 or the Women’s Center at (805) 893-3778.
Discovery Days occur every fall between “move-in day” and the first day of classes. Hundreds of welcome events are designed to help all new students become familiar with the many services and opportunities at UCSB. Events range from workshops and meetings to dances, open houses, and ice cream socials.
Every spring quarter, AS Program Board presents a free all-day concert and festival in Harder Stadium. A variety of national touring acts, games, vendors, and food stands are some of the featured attractions. Students oversee the entire planning process for Extravaganza including setting the budget, negotiating for acts, planning and managing the event, and running day of show operations.
Delicious food, traditional music, colorful dancing, arts and crafts are some of the things you’ll find at each ethnic festival held annually at Oak Park in Santa Barbara. Festivals include the Jewish Festival, Chinese Festival, Irish Festival (687-4343), French Festival, Greek Festival ( 878-0674), Festa Italiana at Serra Hall (687-3999), Caribbean Festival, and the Multicultural Dance and Music Festival. Exit 101 on Pueblo or Mission to get to Oak Park.
Fiesta-Old Spanish Days
For those who are fortunate enough to spend the summer in Santa Barbara, the annual Fiesta/Old Spanish Days held in August is an event not to be missed. There are parades, street dances, a rodeo, a mercado (outdoor market), and variety shows. Watch the opening ceremonies on the steps of the Mission or grab a blanket and a friend to see the nightly performances held in the sunken gardens at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse.
Each year many food festivals occur in the Santa Barbara area. Swing by to taste multiple interpretations of a particular food.
February: Chocolate Festival ( 736-4567)
October: Autumn Arts Grapes & Grains ( 925-2403)
Harbor & Seafood Festival
Fraternity and Sorority Membership Recruitment (Rush)
Each of UCSB’s fraternities and sororities has leadership, scholarship, service, and friendship opportunities to offer prospective members. Recruitment serves as a time for potential new members to get to know members and learn about individual chapter programs and ideas. Each group is responsible for its own recruitment procedures.
Italian Street Painting Festival-I Madonnari
Held at the Santa Barbara Mission during Memorial Day weekend, this festival is modeled after an international competition held in Italy. Internationally famous artists, as well as local talent and children from area schools, use sidewalk chalk to create 200 amazing works of art on the pavement of the Mission courtyard. Italian food and entertainment are highlighted in this benefit for the Children’s Creative Project.
Parents' and Family Weekend
Every fall, UCSB welcomes students’ families —parents, brothers, sisters, grandparents —to explore the campus and get a firsthand look at what life is like at UCSB. Guests will have the opportunity to attend classes, participate in faculty presentations, information sessions, campus area tours and specially planned social events, as well as meet a variety of UCSB faculty and administrators including your professors and Chancellor Henry and Mrs. Dilling Yang.
Residence Halls Association (RHA) Talent Show
The RHA Talent Show is an annual event that provides an opportunity for on-campus residents to display their talents and win prizes. Hall Councils have their own talent shows and the top winners go on to compete in the All-Hall Talent show. This event is also typically filmed and broadcast on RHA TV.
This event is traditionally held at Goleta Beach in the fall quarter. It is a sandcastle-building contest at the beach presented by the Residence Halls Association (RHA) for all on-campus residents. Students compete for great prizes by constructing the best, biggest, or most creative sandcastles.
Santa Barbara Fair & Expo
The Fair and Expo is held annually in April. Fair activities include carnival rides, delicious Fair treats, entertainment by singers, dancers, musicians and performers, livestock demonstrations and exhibits of food, plants, housewares, animals, crafts, photography, etc.
Santa Barbara Swapmeet
The swapmeet is a weekly event open every Sunday, 7am-2pm for bargains galore (but the good stuff is gone by noon). Located at 907 S. Kellogg Avenue, Goleta; (805) 964-9050.
Summer Solstice Parade & Festival
This creative and fun event marks the beginning of the summer and the longest day of the year. The festival in Alameda Park begins immediately after the parade and features live bands, a drum circle, food and arts & crafts from local artisans.