Focus on Festivals: Earth Day Expands Again

By Steven Libowitz   |   May 2, 2023
The Earth Day Festival is back in Alameda Park for the first time in four years

It’s been four years since Earth Day in Santa Barbara – where the annual celebration originated nearly 50 years ago – occupied Alameda Park for a weekend festival. But, hey, in the relative timeline of the planet, that is barely more than a nanosecond in a human life. Or maybe not, given some of the dire declarations of the effects of climate change. 

But Earth Day’s energy springs from its capacity for raising awareness. It isn’t about doom and gloom, said Kathi King, Director for the Santa Barbara Earth Day Festival and Director of Climate Education and Leadership for (festival producer) Community Environmental Council. 

“Earth Day has always been a decidedly happy, upbeat event,” she said. “The emphasis is on solutions and being positive.” 

Which is not hard to do, given all the events that take place over the April 29-30 weekend. The festival is broken into zones, each created around a specific theme, with booths, activities, and attractions that align. Also back are the two days of live music performances, featuring all local bands – including such faves as Spencer the Gardener, Cornerstone, One2Tree and The Brambles. 

Earth Day 2023 also brings back one of the largest and oldest Green Car Shows on the West Coast – CEC’s event dates back to the early 2000s. “When it first started, I think they had a single Prius,” King said with a laugh. “Now, there’s so many models and options we’ve really focused on all electric cars as well as electric bikes. People will be able to test-drive both, including cars from Audi and Pollstar, who are new to the festival.” 

The family programming includes author readings of recently published children’s books in the kids’ area, while Jane Fonda has just been announced as presenter of this year’s Environmental Hero Awards on Sunday – sandwiched between a climate summit with local environmental groups and a panel discussion on climate justice. 

Don’t forget the food court, which won’t be quite as large as the pre-pandemic days, but has heightened the healthy quotient, for both humans and the planet. 

“It’s really strong in terms of our mission, everyone’s got a plant-forward menu and all the participants are sourcing locally and organically whenever possible, even the animal protein which comes from regenerative farms,” King said. “We’re excited to be able to provide the kind of food that we have always wanted to have.” 

What a difference four years makes. 

Find details about CEC’s Earth Day Festival at


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