70,000 spectators line State Street every Christmas season to watch Santa Barbara's only nighttime parade, the annual downtown Santa Barbara Holiday Parade.

This signature event includes marching bands, holiday-themed floats, performance groups, local personalities, and of course Santa Claus at the end.

The parade starts at 6:30 p.m. around the first Friday night in December. Free to attend, this is a traditional holiday extravaganza.

People start saving spots along State Street during the day, putting down their chairs and blankets, but most show up just in time for the event.

This means that if you arrive an hour early you will likely have no trouble parking or finding a good street side spot.

Though the parade starts at 6:30 p.m. it doesn't reach the lower part of State Street until nearly 7 p.m. so if you are running late and don't want to miss anything, head south.

Photos by Fritz Olenberger