The 30th annual Santa Barbara French Festival returns to Oak Park, 300 West Alamar Avenue July 14 and 15 to celebrate Bastille Day and French cultural history. Admission is free and the festival is a non-smoking event. The Santa Barbara French Festival is a community event that draws people from corners near and far. It’s a Dance Festival, a Music Festival, an Arts & Crafts Festival and, of course, a Food Festival. This community fun supports Center Stage Theater and Speaking of Stories, two wonderful non-profit organizations fostering the arts in Santa Barbara.

For two days Santa Barbara celebrates its nickname “the American Riviera,” as the French Festivities transform Oak Park. Our little French village comes to life at 11:00 am when the entertainment kicks off on three different stages and continues non-stop until 7:00 pm both days. The stages will be filled with dance and music from more than 30 different acts including performances, audience participation and instruction. The favorites return every year: Tango, Django Reinhardt tributes, and the Femme Fatales Drag Revue, the Can-Can and French Polynesian dancers, and West African Belly dancing. Fans also return every year to peruse over 60 booths that offer everything from delicious French food and wine, phenomenal art and photography, to French conversation, Pétanque, face painting, French tablecloths, Fairy wings, and the official French Festival booth that sells T-shirts and Berets.

In addition to Old Spanish days in Santa Barbara there has been the Greek Festival, the Italian Festival, Jamaican Festival and many more.  In 1988 long time Santa Barbara resident and Francophile, Steve Hogerman, turned his passion for all things French into the Santa Barbara French Festival. Incorporating food, entertainment, arts and French themed vendors the Festival grew to be one of the largest of the Santa Barbara cultural festivals.

Josette Leblond of Normandie Bakery. Photo by Stephen Sherrill

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