Santa Barbara is most crowded during the months of the summer. It starts with the two-day Summer Solstice Parade & Festival, which celebrates all things new agey and reaches a crescendo when the Old Spanish Days Fiesta is held over eight days starting in late July. The city stops to celebrate its Spanish, Mexican and Native American roots through performances, music, dancing and one gorgeous parade featuring elaborate traditional costumes and prancing horses.
Starting in November Santa Barbara's weather starts to cool down and rain and fog make an appearance signaling the beginning of the off-season. It can be positively dismal in January and February into March. Normally temperate Santa Barbara can get jacket-chilly; if you’re from Wyoming, this is a walk in the park. For Santa Barbarans, it’s arctic weather. The winter does bring one highlight: in the dead of January-February, everyone turns out for the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. March is when the Santa Barbara International Orchid Show is held, which is colorful enough to cheer the even most glum.
April - May; September - October
Spring and fall are times when the Santa Barbara weather can be glorious, the crowds are thinner, and rates a bit lower. In April there’s the week-long Santa Barbara Vintners’ Festival, a celebration of food and wine, in May there’s the I Madonnari Italian Street Painting Festival, where a couple of hundred artists create vivid but temporary chalk works on steps and walkways at the Mission.