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Things to Do

French Festival to Return to Oak Park for 28th Year of Poodles, Crêpes and Can-can

Dancers from West Coast Ballet perform the can-can. Click to view larger
Dancers from West Coast Ballet perform the can-can. (Stephen Sherrill photo)

Celebrate Bastille Day at the 28th Annual French Festival, July 16 and 17 at Oak Park in Santa Barbara.

This year, even more than those before, we relish the opportunity to turn our prayers for France into a celebration of the resilient, rich culture.

Get ready to enjoy great food, wine, mimosas, crêpes, delicious pastries, music, dancing and, of course, the infamous Poodles & Pals Parade. The event is free for the entire family, including the pooch!

The Santa Barbara French Festival is a community event that draws people from corners near and far. The community fun supports Center Stage Theater and Speaking of Stories, two wonderful nonprofit organizations fostering the arts and literacy in Santa Barbara.

For two days Santa Barbara celebrates its nickname, “the American Riviera,” as the French Festivities transform Oak Park.

The festival will come to life at 11 a.m., when the entertainment kicks off on three different stages and continues non-stop until 7 p.m. both days.

The stages will be filled with dance and music from more than 30 different acts including performances, audience participation and instruction. Guests are encouraged to not only join the fun but be the fun!

Napoleon and his favorite French bull dog prepare for the Poodles & Pals parade. Click to view larger
Napoleon and his favorite French bull dog prepare for the Poodles & Pals parade. (Stephen Sherrill photo)

Sit and enjoy the cuisine and have a massage to gear up for the can-can, French Polynesian dancers, burlesque, Édith Piaf and Django Reinhardt tributes, North African bellydancing, tango and Les Femme Fatales Drag Revue. 

An entire third stage will be dedicated to The Accordion International Music Society of Santa Barbara accordion performances. 

With mimosas in hand, fans return every year to peruse over 60 booths that offer everything from delicious French food and phenomenal art and photography to face painting, French tablecloths, fairy wings and the official French Festival T-shirt and beret.

As you shop and nibble, you can also expand your knowledge of the depth and breadth of the French cultural influences on both Santa Barbara culture and the world’s . 

Displays of fun facts will be sprinkled throughout the festival, and attendees can participate in the festival scavenger hunt for the opportunity to win great prizes. Even more prizes will be available through a raffle.

The Poodles & Pals Parade goes rogue Sunday and finishes the festival with a costume contest and prizes. If you don’t want your adventure to end, the Santa Barbara Travel Bureau booth will be showing off an array of boutique adventures and excursions.

Center Stage Theatre and Speaking of Stories are pleased to present this great community event that helps fund them year-round.

Sponsors for the event include Santa Barbara Travel Bureau, Kronenbourg 1664, Perrier, Loire Wineries, the Santa Barbara Independent, Paseo Nuevo Shops & Restaurants, Diabolo, HiddenProvence.com, The Tent Merchant and South Pacific Management. 

For complete details on the performers, food, crafts, shopping and activities, visit FrenchFestival.com or follow the event on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Teri Ball is the executive director of the French Festival.

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