One day each October, from 10am to 5pm, the Santa Barbara Harbor & Seafood Festival draws seafood lovers of all ages to Santa Barbara's popular Harbor for one of the community's most unique and beloved events.
The festival is timed to celebrate the opening of commercial lobster season (early October), and showcases a variety of delicious regional seafood specialties. There are children's activities, boat rides, cooking demonstrations, and maritime education.
Enjoy live music, 30+ arts & crafts vendors and local environmental organizations such as Heal The Ocean and Santa Barbara Channelkeeper that offer education materials to the public. The Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary & National Park are also present with informational booths and displays.
Dozens of local fishermen cast their nets and lines all day and bring their fruits of the sea directly to the pier, where you can handpick your meal and watch as local chefs prepare them in every style imaginable.
Head out to the ocean with free boat rides aboard the Double Dolphin, introductory sailing lessons by Santa Barbara Sailing Center or take Lil' Toot Water Taxi Rides to Stearns Wharf and back. Children's activities include kid's craft booths a Trivia Treasure Hunt, Deep Sea Diving Demonstrations, an Urchin Harvesting Information Booth and assorted athletic activities.
The Santa Barbara Harbor & Seafood Festival is presented by the City of Santa Barbara Waterfront Department, Commercial Fishermen of Santa Barbara, Inc., the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum and the Santa Barbara Harbor Merchants' Association.
The harbor parking lot usually has plenty of spaces even though this is a very crowded event. The problem, however, is that there is no left turn allowed into the harbor parking lot on festival day when approaching from the Stearns Wharf (east) side. Normally a left turn is allowed when approaching from the east so you should consider planning to approach the harbor from the Santa Barbara City College (west) side. The best way to get to the festival from the freeway is to follow the signs to Santa Barbara City College, head up Cliff Drive, and then down Loma Alta Drive to Leadbetter Beach. This way you are approaching the harbor parking lot from the west side. The parking lots at Santa Barbara City College and Leadbetter Beach will be full unless you happen to arrive very early. The harbor parking lot usually has spaces available all day (because it is huge) and it is also the closest parking to the festival. There will likely be a line of cars waiting to get in. Don't let that scare you away (unless, of course, you see the dreaded "lot full" sign). It is probably still your best bet.