Santa Barbara Events

De La Guerra Plaza, a look back

Plaza de la Guerra, in the first block of East De la Guerra Street, has been a focal point of the city’s social life since the 1820s. During the Spanish and Mexican eras, the plaza was often the scene of dances, fiestas, and bullfights. Just to the north of the plaza, across De la Guerra Street, stands the former home of José de la Guerra y Noriega, perhaps Santa Barbara’s most prominent citizen during its early history.

Getty Images

Getty Images

In 1855, the city’s common council designated the plaza, along with Plaza Alameda and Plaza Vera Cruz, as a public square or park — the first official parks in Santa Barbara. There the matter rested for the next 20 years, as the plaza remained simply an open area. In 1875, a new City Hall arose in the middle of the plaza. Initially, the two-story brick building housed all city offices, the jail, fire house, and the municipal court.

Construction of the City Hall sparked more development around the plaza. Frenchman Louis Raffour opened the Raffour House at the northeast corner of the plaza in the late 1870s. José Borderre, a Basque sheepherder, opened his French Hotel in the southeast corner of the plaza in the 1890s. These and other businesses maintained the plaza’s position at the center of city life.

De La Guerra Plaza :: Town Hall

De La Guerra Plaza :: Town Hall

De La Guerra Plaza :: Casa DLG

De La Guerra Plaza :: Casa DLG

In 1910, the City Hall received a facelift with a new red metal roof and cement facade in the popular Mission Revival architectural style. By the early 1920s, it was apparent that the creation of new city departments and expanding government services dictated new quarters. The city already rented office space around town to accommodate its growing bureaucracy. Voters passed a $200,000 bond issue in 1922. Most of the funds were to go toward construction of a new City Hall at the site of the old Raffour House.

Ronald Sauter and E. Keith Lockard rendered the new facility in the Spanish Colonial style, in keeping with El Paseo and its “Street in Spain” across De la Guerra Street. The move to give Santa Barbara a unified architectural look based upon the Spanish Colonial Revival style was in full swing before the 1925 earthquake, which accelerated this trend. The new City Hall included not only city offices, but the police department and the city jail. The old City Hall in the middle of the plaza was razed, and the plaza landscaped with lawn and flowers.

Anchoring the plaza on the south side was the Santa Barbara News-Press building, designed by George Washington Smith and completed in 1922. At the time of construction, the building housed the Santa Barbara Daily News. In the 1930s, Thomas Storke would buy the rival Morning Press to form the News-Press. In 1951, the tower and the east wing were added to the building.

Shortly after the turn of the 21st century, controversy began to stir when plans were broached to ban autos from the plaza and transform it into a strictly pedestrian area. A number of businesses protested the proposed changes, and the plans were eventually shelved. The plaza continues to play host to a number of festivities during the year including the Fiesta Mercado and Cinco de Mayo celebration to name just two. Taken all together, Plaza de la Guerra, Casa de la Guerra, and El Paseo form a wonderfully evocative complex that is still, in many ways, the heart and soul of the city.

De La Guerra :: Fiesta

De La Guerra :: Fiesta

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Upper Village Celebration!

Montecito, CA – Boutique shopping, complimentary food tastings, live music, kids’ activities and much more are in store on Saturday, February 24, from 2 pm to 6 pm at various locations in Montecito’s Upper Village.


All local businesses are open and ready to welcome shoppers following the devastating Thomas Fire and subsequent mudflow that shut down business for multiple weeks in December and January. Celebrate Montecito’s Upper Village is an opportunity for the community to show love and support to the restaurants and retailers who help to make the Montecito community the magical place that it is.

“The businesses in the Upper Village have really suffered during the recent events,” said event committee chair Ted Simmons. “We have heard that some businesses lost as much as forty percent of their annual revenue during closures over the holidays. The idea of this event is to gather and show that we appreciate them with our presence and by buying gifts, flowers, home decor, clothes, food and more!”


The event, organized by a group of community volunteers and neighbors, is kid friendly, with various activities including face painting and crafts geared toward the youngest members of our community. There will also be several musical guests at various locations in the Upper Village throughout the afternoon and evening.

Upper Village Businesses will be open and most will be offering discounts and donating to local non-profits to support mudslide relief.

The schedule is as follows:

2:00 to 4:00 pm: Face Painting, Station for Writing Thank You Cards for Firefighters and Rescue Workers in the grassy circle in front of Tecolote Bookstore.

3:30 to 6:00 pm: Music located near Pan e Vino; bands include Bryan Titus Trio, Paradise Kings, Tina Schlieske & the Graceland Exiles. There will also be a DJ spinning tunes in front of Village Wine & Cheese. Dan & the Dairy Queens with Leslie Lembo will be performing in the courtyard by Pierre La Fond & Wine Bistro 


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Cinco de Mayo Santa Barbara


People travel far and wide to celebrate this fun filled festivity of Cinco de Mayo in the highly sought after travel destination of Santa Barbara and Montecito. Here's a few reasons why....

What is Cinco de Mayo?

Every May, Santa Barbara celebrates its Spanish heritage with the extraordinary Cinco de Mayo Festival at De La Guerra Plaza. This year’s festivities are here, and they will draw thousands of locals and visitors. With live music and delicious cuisine from an array of food vendors, this festival is the best place to be on the Fifth of May.


What's the history of Cinco de Mayo?

(pronounced: [ˈsiŋko ðe ˈmaʝo]; Spanish for "May 5th", or literally, "Five of May") is a celebration held on May 5. The date is observed to commemorate the Mexican army's unlikely victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, under the leadership of General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguín.

Where & When is Cinco de Mayo?

Located in downtown Santa Barbara, De La Guerra Plaza is a haven for Latino culture in Southern California. It also hosts the Old Days Spanish Fiesta every August—one of the region’s most popular annual events. On May 5th, the city will commemorate the Mexican defeat of the French in 1862 and celebrate the country’s heritage.

What's happening in Santa Barbara for Cinco de Mayo?

With such a strong Mexican culture throughout the city and state, a Cinco De Mayo celebration in Santa Barbara is as authentic as anyone will find in the United States. In the past, festival-goers have enjoyed everything from confetti-filled eggs to live Mexican music to delicious taquitos, tamales, and grilled corn on the cob.

The city of Santa Barbara even throws in a few extra fun for everyone attractions, like the rock climbing wall which has made appearances at festivals past. To take part in the fun this year, just head over to De La Guerra Plaza.

With musicians jamming in the plaza, and chicken and beef simmering on the grill, this year’s Santa Barbara Cinco De Mayo Festival promises to impress.

Don't miss out on all Santa Barbara has to offer in this fun filled festival.

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