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Tradition at the Mission

If you’re a Santa Barbara native or have ever visited the city, you may have heard about the I Madonnari Chalk Festival. Annually, this festival takes place in late May, featuring dozens of eye-catching artworks. Traditionally, local artists team up with featured businesses and organizations to color the streets at the Old Mission. The Spanish Mission in Santa Barbara is a historical landmark in the city. People have long gathered there, as a central hub of activity. Founded in 1786, the grounds now feature an impressive church, living quarters, and a beautiful rose garden. Hence, it’s been the perfect location to host Santa Barbara’s I Madonnari Chalk Festival. So, where does the name come from?

Originally, street painting began in Italy in the mid-1500s. The Madonnari were artists who traveled across Europe, lighting up cities with their craft. Often, these were recreations of Madonna, depictions of the Virgin Mary. Quickly, this performance-based art spread across the globe as a celebration. In 1985, Santa Barbara was the first city in the United States to adopt this custom. Today, the I Madonnari Chalk Festival gives Santa Barbara natives a fun opportunity to get involved in their communities. Californians and tourists travel from near and far to enjoy the attraction. At the same time, the community benefits from the spike in tourism. 

madonnari chalk festival

When Traditions Change

Unfortunately, the I Madonnari Chalk Festival will not be located at the Old Mission this year. Instead, sponsoring organizations will place chalk art at various locations of their choosing. From Saturday the 29th through Monday the 31st, artists will color the streets of Santa Barbara. By spreading the artwork across the city, officials are hoping to maintain crowd control. Additionally, progress on the chalk drawings will be video recorded and uploaded online daily. Final depictions will also be posted virtually on I Madonnari’s website and across various social media platforms. Tune in and take a walk around the city. You do not want to miss this event! Participation is free. Plus, check out featured artwork from Michael Barriere.

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