For over three-quarters of a century, Santa Barbara has celebrated the Semana Nautica Festival surrounding the 4th of July holiday. The festival originated in 1933 when the local populace challenged the crew of five U.S. Navy battleships, moored outside the harbor, to a series of contests along the beach. Dubbed Fleet Week, the resulting enthusiasm inspired the City Council to charter the event on a permanent basis the following year and change the name to Semana Nautica in honor of the town’s Spanish heritage.
Over the years, the sports festival has incorporated hundreds of various events, from the extremely physically challenging to those that welcome participants of all ages and abilities. Spectators may attend the events free of charge and are encouraged to cheer amateur competitors at the many sites in Carpinteria, Santa Barbara and Goleta. More than a million people have visited Santa Barbara during Semana Nautica since its inception.