Solstice and I Madonnari Canceled Due to COVID-19 Concerns

2019 Summer Solstice Parade in Santa Barbara | Credit: Erica Urech

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Organizers of Santa Barbara’s iconic Solstice Festival—now in its 45th year—announced that this year the show will not be going on.

“To protect the health of our community due to the current public health emergency, the Santa Barbara Summer Solstice Celebration has decided to go virtual with our annual Solstice community workshop and 3-day festival at Alameda Park,” the announcement reads. “While we are certainly heartbroken to make this announcement, we feel it is in the best interest and welfare of our community.”

The announcement made official what people close to the festival—which takes place just as spring slips into summer—have privately understood. Given the high degree of uncertainty as to when the state’s shelter-in-place rules barring all large gatherings will be lifted—and the long lead time required to assemble Solstice floats and rehearse for the large-scale dance revues, organizers opted to pull the plug.

However, in an effort to keep the “the Solstice spirit alive and thriving,” organizes “are in the process of planning a plethora of free and donation-based online classes and gatherings in May and June and possibly beyond,” the announcement reads. Solstice Executive Director Robin Elander said the schedule of activities was set to be announced in the first week of May.

On Wednesday, organizers of the city’s I Madonnari chalk painting festival — held every year for the past 33 years on the Mission grounds during Memorial Day weekend — announced that festival had likewise been canceled. The festival, which announced no plans to go virtual, is the annual fundraiser for the Children’s Creative Project, a nonprofit arts education program of the Santa Barbara County Education Office, which provides visual and performing arts education in schools throughout Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties.

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