Back for the fifth year running, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art’s annual Nights events are kicking things off this Thursday, May 15, with a celebration like no other. Mixing classic storybook goodness with some decidedly grownup fun, the season’s inaugural gala takes its cue from the museum’s current exhibit, Over Rainbows and Down Rabbit Holes: The Art of Children’s Books. And with a truckload of themed activities, performances, cocktails, and delectable goodies lined up and ready to overload patrons’ senses, we’re betting this just might be the can’t-miss event of the month. The party runs from 5:30-8 p.m., and the Santa Barbara Museum of Art is located at 1130 State Street. Visit for info and tickets. And check out our rundown of some of the event’s extra special offerings below.

1) It’s a Mad, Mad World: Live entertainment has always played a huge part in past Nights seasons, and this Thursday’s installment is no exception. In addition to musical accompaniment from String Improv, the museum will host a delightfully fitting setup it has dubbed the Mad Hatter’s Rock Tea Party. It’s here that Instant Love Mix will be churning out their zany takes on rock ‘n’ roll classics from the likes of Elvis and Jimi Hendrix. Also on board are two dueling deejays and a stage setup made to look like the Mad Hatter’s tea party-complete with projections of Disney’s Alice in Wonderland adorning the museum walls.

2) Return to Oz: You’ve got brains, a heart, and enough courage-but that doesn’t need to deter you from skipping off to see the wizard at the We’re Not In Kansas Anymore Cupcake Bar and Remixes. Seek advice from the man behind the bar, and your questions and problems will be answered with a custom-selected quote from The Wizard of Oz-presented atop a delicious cupcake. Set to a soundtrack of house music intercut with “sonic nuggets” from the film, the bar embodies the very essence of Nights: a witty and multi-sensual delight.

3) Rabbit Habits: Keeping with the evening’s theme, the Nights masterminds have come up with a couple craft activities that are all about mixing the art of kiddie books with something decidedly more sinister. Cue Fatal Attraction: The Tale of Peter Rabbit Masks, which provides guests with the opportunity to explore two classic tales of temptation (Fatal Attraction and Beatrix Potter’s 1902 classic, The Tale of Peter Rabbit) with very different endings. The masks, which will be based on original art templates created by one of the SBMA’s own artists, will depict a debauched Peter Rabbit, and patrons will be able to decorate the pre-made offerings with quotes from both stories.


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