2023 Fiesta El Presidente, David Bolton (front and center) | Credit: Credit: Courtesy Old Spanish Days Fiesta Facebook/Fritz Olenberger

Preparations are in full swing for Old Spanish Days 2023, which will take place August 2-6 in Santa Barbara this year. Friday’s historic parade will run along Cabrillo Boulevard from Castillo to Milpas streets, and the carnival at the beach returns after a decades-long hiatus to the parking lot below City College’s La Playa Stadium, adding entertainment, food booths, and a beer garden. Fiesta Pequeña, De la Guerra Mercado, Noches de la Ronda, parties, dancing, and musical entertainment will all return as well, though the mercado at MacKenzie Park is not yet back.

The theme “Let’s Fiesta” was announced by this year’s El Presidente, David Bolton, a longtime spokesperson for the weeklong festivities. “Fiesta means so much more than merely a party — it’s about celebrating; it’s about family, friends, neighbors, and colleagues,” said Bolton, who will be hosting events alongside his husband, Gonzalo Sarmiento, this year’s El Primer Caballero.

“Fiesta will showcase our beach,” Bolton said, referring to Friday’s El Desfile Histórico and the arts and crafts shows on Saturday and Sunday. As well, the San Diego Maritime Museum will be sailing a full-size replica of the San Salvador, explorer Juan Cabrillo’s ship, for a weekend visit to the Santa Barbara Harbor and tours during Fiesta. 


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