Recommended Santa Barbara Theaters
Santa Barbara's many theaters are exciting cultural centers and home to the town’s cherished performing arts organizations. In architectural style and interior design, the theaters are as rich and varied as Santa Barbara itself, providing glimpses into the city’s changing tastes and styles. During a visit to Santa Barbara, you might find these stages filled with music, drama, dance, comedy, lectures or film screening.
The Arlington Theater is the largest indoor performance venue in Santa Barbara, seating over 2,000 guests. The theater’s atmospheric interior is one part of its great beauty. After seeing the marquee and the Spanish courtyard and fountains, visitors enter the small lobby on their way into movie paradise. The auditorium has faux-Spanish villas on both sides, while lanterns, windows and staircases cover both walls. The ceiling is also detailed with stars that give the theater an outdoor feel within the luxury of an indoor venue.
The Lobero Theatre features a wide variety in modern dance, ballet, jazz, lectures, classical music, opera and contemporary music performances. R&B and Jazz guests are welcomed every month as part of two ongoing series. The Lobero hosts some of the area’s best performing arts organizations: Opera Santa Barbara, State Street Ballet, Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra, Sings Like Hell, Music Academy of the West, Speaking of Stories, SBCC Adult Education’s Mind & Supermind series, Flamenco Arts Festival and others. The theatre’s intimate ambiance and historic charm make the Lobero well-known for high quality programs presented in a warm and welcoming atmosphere.
The Granada Theatre recently completed a vast restoration that enhanced both its breathtaking, historical charm as well as its technical capabilities as a state of the art performance hall. In addition to having offered premieres and sneak previews of historic films such as Gone With the Wind and Guys and Dolls, the Granada has played host to the 20th century’s greatest artists and entertainers: Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Henry Fonda, Sir John Gielgud, Ethel Barrymore, Al Jolson, Will Rogers, Helen Hayes, Jon Vickers and Martha Graham have all graced the stage with their presence. The Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, American Ballet Theatre, New York Philharmonic, Cleveland Orchestra and Berlin Philharmonic are but a few of the world-class companies to appear. Performances by the Santa Barbara Symphony, Opera Santa Barbara, CAMA, State Street Ballet, Santa Barbara Choral Society, UCSB Arts & Lectures, and the Broadway Series are regularly held each season. The Granada is where art and history converge, a grand theatrical tradition that adds to the spirit of Santa Barbara Arts.
Santa Barbara Bowl
The Santa Barbara Bowl is a non-profit organization run by community volunteers dedicated to renovating this historic facility. This incredible outdoor area fits over 4,500 guests and was built in 1936 with federal funding from the Depression-era WPA. The Santa Barbara Bowl was originally designed to serve as an annual performance venue for Fiesta. The original construction included a wooden revolving stage that was destroyed by a flood during an El Nino winter in 1939. It was replaced by a concrete stage that was used until the end of the 2001 Concert Season. The Bowl has completed a renovation through the help of community volunteers and donations to the foundation. Some of the performers over the past few years have included Rod Stewart, Blink 182, Jimmy Buffet, Sarah McLachlan, Maroon 5, Black Eyed Peas, Jack Johnson, 311, Bright Eyes, Dave Matthews & Tim Reynolds, and Def Leppard.
Built in 1921, the Victoria Hall Theater has long been an integral part of downtown Santa Barbara’s performing arts history. In recent years the building came under the ownership of three nonprofit groups, including the Unity Shoppe, and its spaces served the community in a variety of ways beyond the arts. Early in 2013 the Theater was purchased by the Ensemble Theatre Company to be renovated to current seismic standards and to be transformed into an intimate, contemporary theater seating 300. The “New Vic” is not only the permanent home of Ensemble but also hosts an array of performing arts groups throughout the year.
Center Stage Theater
Envisioned as a performance arts venue belonging to the entire community in the 1989 design and building of downtown Santa Barbara’s Paseo Nuevo shopping center, Center Stage Theater has truly become an important asset in the city’s cultural life. The intimate, 150-seat black box theater is more than flexible enough to accommodate nearly 60 production companies in a year, ranging from film to music, dance, and theater. Performers are also incredibly diverse and represent the entire spectrum of the community, both culturally and in experience level—from professional artists to children in their first public performance. Visit to learn more about upcoming performances and ticket sales.
Porter Theater at Westmont College, a private liberal arts college in Montecito, is a 180-seat auditorium and provides the stage for Westmont’s innovative theater arts program. Theater, dance, performance art, and film productions held at Porter Theater are open to the entire Santa Barbara community, including the Westmont Fringe Festival—an exciting showcase of student creativity held annually at the end of the school year.
Campbell Hall, located on the UCSB campus, is one of the primary venues for the UCSB’s Arts & Lectures program. The round, modern theater building houses over 880 seats that are usually packed for the outstanding performances, films, and lectures hosted here. Through this program UCSB provides both its students and the greater community with world-class and inspiring experiences in the arts.
The Theatre Group at Santa Barbara City College brings together the passion and talent of professional, community, and student performers, creating a unique and outstanding learning and entertainment experience. Plays are held at Santa Barbara City College’s 370-seat Garvin Theatre, which has been newly renovated to offer spacious amenities and total accessibility, as well energy efficiency and technical sophistication.
Hahn Hall is the centerpiece of the prestigious Music Academy of the West, located on the lush, 10 acre Miraflores estate in Montecito. It was renovated in 2008 to achieve excellent acoustics and to offer outstanding amenities. Now the Hall seats 350 and features ornate wood details and the elegant Mediterranean style of the greater campus. Through performances and master classes held at Hahn Hall, the Music Academy of the West continues its visionary development of young musicians in the community and in the world of classical music.
Circle Bar B Dinner Theatre
Circle Bar B Guest Ranch, located off of Highway 101 just north of Goleta, offers a lesser known but beloved theater experience in its intimate, old west style setting. Since 1971 the theater, housed in a converted barn and bunkhouse, has performed lively comedies and musicals for dinner guests who enjoy a home cooked barbecue buffet along with the good, family fun.
Solvang Festival Theater
With its garden lobby and 700-seat outdoor amphitheater, the Solvang Festival Theater offers a unique and delightful experience of theater under the stars. Since 1974 the Festival Theater has served the enthusiasm of the Solvang community for live theater as well as an integral partnership with Allan Hancock College’s Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts.