Santa Barbara Bowl

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Santa Barbara Bowl
The Bowl
Santa Barbara Bowl Depeche Mode (2013).jpg
The venue before a concert in 2013.
Location Santa Barbara, California
Owner Santa Barbara Bowl Foundation
Type Outdoor amphitheater
Seating type Seats
Capacity 4,562
Built 1936
Renovated 1994–2012
Santa Barbara Bowl

The Santa Barbara Bowl is a 4,562-seat amphitheater, located in Santa Barbara, California. The amphitheater is open for concerts from approximately April through approximately October with an average of about 27 concerts per season. Booked exclusively by Goldenvoice in Los Angeles, the Bowl hosts primarily popular music concerts. Since 1991, the Santa Barbara Bowl has been managed by the not-for-profit Santa Barbara Bowl Foundation.


It was carved into the hillside, in 1936, as a WPA project. It was originally built as the home for the final pageant of Old Spanish Days — Fiesta.

The amphitheater's original stage was a revolving wooden stage, but this was washed out during El Niño rains in 1939. The stage was replaced with a concrete slab that remained in place until renovation work in 2001.

Prominent concerts[edit]

Joni Mitchell's 1980 double live album and concert film, Shadows and Light, was recorded at the venue in September 1979 on the tour supporting her Mingus album. Her all-star backing band was made up of prominent jazz fusion musicians Pat Metheny, Lyle Mays, Jaco Pastorius, Don Alias, and Michael Brecker.

The British band Tears For Fears performed at the amphitheatre in May 1990, which was filmed for their Going To California concert video (the American vocalist/pianist Oleta Adams appeared with them).

The British band Depeche Mode performed at the amphitheatre three times: the first one was on August 5, 2001 during their Exciter Tour. The second one was on August 20, 2009 during their Tour of the Universe, in front of a sold out crowd of 4,937 people. The third one was on September 24, 2013 during their Delta Machine Tour, in front of a sold out crowd of 4,959 people. The 2009 show was recorded for the group's live albums project Recording the Universe.

The show which broke the record for playing past the City of Santa Barbara, California's 10pm noise ordinance curfew was the 2015 performance of Neil Young & Promise of the Real, who played until 10:38pm before leaving the stage.

On March 13, 2018, Katy Perry announced a benefit concert titled Witness: Coming Home, to help and support victims of the 2017 California wildfires. The concert took place on May 19, 2018 as part of her 2017-2018 Witness: The Tour.


The Santa Barbara Bowl has undergone over $42 million in renovations since the establishment of the Foundation in 1991.

Year Renovation Project
1991 Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors regained control of the Bowl from Old Spanish Days
1992 Renovation and Restoration Master Plan developed by the Foundation
  • Foundation granted responsibility for the Bowl
  • Infrastructure Renovations – Power, water and sewer upgraded
  • Temporary production roof
  • New storm drain and more efficient drainage systems
  • Bus Electrical Project
  • Marquee
2002 The stage and backstage facilities reconstructed increasing the overall usable square footage by +300% (3,000 sq. ft. to 10,000 sq. ft.) (Master Plan Phase 1A)
  • Upgraded dressing rooms
  • Enlarged and improved restroom facilities
  • Food concessions (under the Stage)
2003 Seating Upgrades
  • Permanent, disabled seating platform (Master Plan Phase 1C)
  • Floor Section (Master Plan Phase 1C)
  • Grand Staircase (Master Plan Phase 1C)
  • The Wendy McCaw Terrace for donor and cultivation receptions (Master Plan Phase 1C)
  • Beverage Concessions (under the Wendy McCaw Terrace) (Master Plan Phase 1C)
  • The Canteen – Food service upgrade and Food Carts (Master Plan Phase 1D)
  • Hand-rail Project
  • Backstage Retaining Wall

See also[edit]

External links[edit]