While warm woolen mittens are rarely required in this blissfully temperate city, one must nevertheless have a mind of winter to regard the deep frost of culture that will crust the coming months in glittering imaginary snow. Arts festivals are the fractals of our winter climate, with film, opera, and percussion all held to the light and examined from every angle, each unique individual performance reflecting the logic of some underlying grand pattern. Opera Santa Barbara takes as its festival theme the Italian Passions, while the Santa Barbara International Film Festival continues its ascent as the premiere venue for publicizing Oscar nominations. The Santa Barbara Symphony’s First International Percussion Festival, which starts this week, leads the way into the New Year with jazz, Cuban, contemporary, classical, Brazilian, and Japanese beats. Think about starting the season with a bang and you are already halfway there. After all, if winter has come, can spring be far behind?