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.
LocationSanta Barbara, California
OwnerSanta Barbara Bowl Foundation
TypeOutdoor amphitheater
Seating typeSeats
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.


In the 1920s, La Primavera pageant used the location of what is now Peabody Stadium. [1]

In 1924, fiesta week, 'Old Spanish Days,' began.[2]

In 1935,[3] Santa Barbara Bowl was carved into the hillside, a dry creek bed, as a WPA project.[4][5] It was originally built to serve as a venue for the annual pageant of Old Spanish Days — Fiesta.[6][7][8][9][10]

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.

In the 1970s, Sepp Donahower, of Pinnacle Dance Concerts promoted pop music concerts, (Little Feat, Loggins & Messina, Average White Band, Beach Boys, and others).[11]

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.

In 1979 on behalf of his Survival tour, Bob Marley and The Wailers performed at the bowl.

Maroon 5’s performance on May 13th 2005 was recorded for their Live - Friday the 13th live album and DVD.


The Santa Barbara Bowl has undergone over $42 million in renovations since the establishment of the Foundation in 1991.[12]

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]


  1. ^ "History of La Primavera - Old Spanish Days". Fiesta Santa Barbara. Retrieved 23 November 2021. When Samuel Hume came from the Greek Theatre in Berkeley to direct the pageant, he told Santa Barbarans that nature had given them a perfect setting for the performance (near Canon Perdido Street and east of the former Presidio). This location is now the Peabody Stadium of Santa Barbara High School. Then it was a creek bed.
  2. ^ "History of Fiesta - Old Spanish Days". Fiesta Santa Barbara. Retrieved 23 November 2021.
  3. ^ McHugh, Julia. "The birth of the Santa Barbara Bowl". Lompoc Record. Retrieved 23 November 2021. Construction of the Santa Barbara County Bowl began in December 1935, thanks to $77,000 in Depression-era WPA funding. Sixty workers toiled in three shifts to ready it for a grand pageant celebrating Old Spanish Days in August 1936.
  4. ^[bare URL PDF]
  5. ^ "Santa Barbara Bowl Master Plan". Handel Architects. 22 November 2021. Retrieved 23 November 2021. ...Santa Barbara Bowl was constructed in 1936 in the classic American Craftsman style using Works Progress Administration funds. Originally built to serve as the annual performance venue for Santa Barbara's Old Spanish Days' Fiesta...
  6. ^ "Old Spanish Days -- Fiesta Week in Santa Barbara - Old Spanish Days". Fiesta Santa Barbara. Retrieved 23 November 2021.
  7. ^ "Santa Barbara Bowl - Santa Barbara CA". Living New Deal. Retrieved 23 November 2021.
  8. ^ "Santa Barbara Bowl Wins 2016 Sunset Travel Award". Visit Santa Barbara.
  9. ^ Sundby, Alex. "Marking New Deal's legacy". Columbia News Service. Retrieved 23 November 2021.
  10. ^ Hoffman, Lyz (13 June 2015). "County Archiving Handwritten History of Santa Barbara's Early Days". The Santa Barbara Independent. Retrieved 23 November 2021.
  11. ^ dennisd (17 June 2011). "Santa Barbara County Bowl". Ventura and Santa Barbara Psychedelic Music Scene 1960-1975. Retrieved 23 November 2021.
  12. ^ Lassen, Erik (2011-07-28). "Fixing the Bowl". The Santa Barbara Independent. Retrieved 2019-07-25.

External links[edit]