Why You Need to Attend the Santa Barbara International Film Festival

If you have never been to the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, you are missing out on the experience of a lifetime! Held each February, it has become one of the most renowned film festivals in the country. The event brings together filmmakers, directors, celebrities, and the general public to celebrate a shared appreciation for film. Come enjoy a cinematic experience like no other and see it for yourself!

If you are planning to attend the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, make sure to view our complimentary Vacation Guide. It’s full of information about the best things to do and see during your stay in Santa Barbara, CA. From dining and entertainment to shopping and recreation, it’s all right there in the guide!

About the Santa Barbara International Film Festival

The Santa Barbara International Film Festival has been a California tradition since 1986. The 11-day festival attracts more than 90,000 attendees and features 200+ films, short films, and symposiums. You’ll find the very best of independent, U.S., and international cinema when you attend. Another highlight of the Festival is the tribute nights, where the top in the field are recognized for their film achievements. Past recipients include Johnny Depp, Jennifer Lawrence, Oprah Winfrey, James Franco, Emma Stone, and Ryan Gosling among others.

Santa Barbara International Film Festival 2018 Events

This year’s festivities kick off with the Opening Night Gala on Wednesday, January 31st, and run through Saturday, February 10th. At the Opening Night Gala, guests over 21 can enjoy food, drinks, live music, and dancing in downtown Santa Barbara. The event is open to the public, and tickets are available prior to the event.

During the Festival, you can mingle with filmmakers and industry professionals, watch incredible films and tributes, or attend a variety of free events. The Festival is held throughout many sites in Santa Barbara, including Arlington Theatre, Lobero Theatre, and the recently renovated Riviera Theatre. Tickets and passes are available online.  

Free Events at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival

Did you know that you can watch daily films for free at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival? There are also free educational seminars, student competitions, and more. Admission is always on a first-come, first-serve basis, so we recommend getting there early! The following are just a few free events you can attend. Check out their website for a complete list!

AppleBox Family Films: On the weekends of the Festival, bring the whole family out for an animated movie night! This year’s screenings will include Zootopia (10 a.m. on Feb. 4th), Moana (10 a.m. Feb. 5th), and Finding Dory (10 a.m. Feb 11th). There will even be complimentary popcorn and refreshments!

Super Silent Sunday: On Sunday, February 5th, you can watch the 1925 classic film “The Freshman.” This will be held at Arlington Theatre and there will also be live accompaniment by Adam Aceto on the theatre’s Wonder Morgan pipe organ.

Free Screenings and Filmmaker Seminars: The Lobero Theatre features a critically acclaimed movie every day of the festival. You can also head over to Santa Ynez Valley Lounge for free educational seminars throughout the Festival.

Come Home to Our Downtown Santa Barbara Bed and Breakfast

When searching for accommodations near the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, no place compares to Cheshire Cat Inn. Our bed and breakfast is blocks from the theatres and main area attractions. Our comfortable rooms, suites, and cottages offer the very best amenities to ensure that your stay is a relaxing one. Many feature original fireplaces and balconies with incredible views of the Santa Ynez Mountains.

During your stay, you can expect to start off each morning with a delicious complimentary breakfast. After an exciting day at the film festival, come back and join us for a complimentary wine tasting hour and hors-d’oeuvres. Check our availability and make your reservations today. We can’t wait to welcome you!