The Santa Barbara Holiday Light Tour and Boat Decoration Contest

Christmas and New Year celebrations are just around the corner. Despite the stay at home order, Santa Barbara is still finding ways to make this festive season more special. One of which is having the annual Santa Barbara Holiday Light Tour.

Every year in December, there are marvelous displays of holiday lights in Santa Barbara, California. If you live there or if you happen to be visiting, you and your family can have a wonderful time driving around looking at the festive decorations — if you know where to look.

The full Holiday Light Tour takes about 1 hour if you drive at a reasonable pace. I recommend starting your tour between 6:30 pm and 7:30 pm.

There are five parts to this tour:

1. Through downtown Santa Barbara.

2. Visits the West Side.

3. Takes you over the Portesuello hills.

4. West of Las Positas.

5. Finishes by taking you to the Hitchcock area.

In addition to these five areas, there is a small street in Goleta that has a delightful display of lights and decorations. It is a bit far away to be part of the Santa Barbara tour, so I have included it as a bonus, in case you have some extra time.

6. (bonus) takes you to Puente Plaza in Goleta (map).

For a more detailed description or guide of the Santa Barbara Holiday Light Tour see Harley Hahn’s post at

Photograph from

The COVID-19 pandemic cancelled this year’s annual light parade in the Santa Barbara harbor, but boat owners are still encouraged to participate in a holiday-themed decoration contest. That means people can witness dazzling vessels decorated with lights during a nighttime stroll along the harbour, located at 132 Harbor Way.

Santa Barbara’s waterfront department staff will visit all participating boats in their slips, photograph their entry starting next week, and post entrant photos along with a community judging poll on social media beginning Dec. 18. The public is invited to score the competitors, with winners announced Dec. 21. Check out more information about it here:
These amazing annual events just show that no matter the challenges, the Santa Barbara community still has a great holiday spirit. 

Photograph from