• MacFarlane Team

I Madonnari 33rd Anniversary

Santa Barbara’s annual Italian Street Painting Festival has been transforming the Old Mission plaza since 1987, featuring 150 large-scale and vibrantly colorful street paintings created by artists using delicate chalk pastels on pavement.  Join the 25,000 visitors who enjoy live music, and the Market of fine Italian food and specialty items.

Street Painting & Madonnari:

Festival Hours:  10:00am - 6:00pm daily

Madonnari, or street painters, transform the Santa Barbara Old Mission plaza using delicate pastels on pavement to create 150 vibrant and colorful, large scale drawings. We are proud to be the first to bring this romantic Italian festival to the western hemisphere from our sister festival in Grazie di Curtatone, Italy.  Produced by the Children's Creative Project, the Festival benefits our arts education programs.

The Santa Barbara I Madonnari Italian Street Painting Festival presents the rare opportunity to view artists of all ages create street paintings ranging from classical to original images.  The annual, three-day festival held on the Memorial Day Weekend in May attracts 25,000 visitors who also enjoy live music, an array of Italian cuisine, and specialty items.

Street painting is a performance art where the drawings with time will fade due to wind and rain. Its focus on the creative process rather than the product are at the heart of the Festival and the mission of the Children’s Creative Project a nonprofit arts education program of the Santa Barbara County Education Office. 


The I Madonnari Street Painting Festival is the first festival of its kind in the Western Hemisphere. It was created in 1987 by Kathy Koury, the executive director of the Children’s Creative Project, as a fundraising event to benefit our arts education programs. Now there are more than 100 similar street painting festivals throughout the U.S., Canada, Central and South America.

Ms. Koury traveled to Italy in 1986, to visit the International Street Painting Competition in the small town of Grazie di Curtatone in northern Italy near Mantova. This first international event produced by the Centro Italiano Madonnari since 1972, takes place annually in mid-August.  

Street painting probably began in Italy during the 16th century and has a long tradition in cities in Western Europe. Artists began street painting by traveling to Catholic religious and folk festivals where they drew images of the Madonna using chalk on the street.  These artists became known as “Madonnari” or street painters. Their images are called street paintings because when well drawn they resemble paintings. These artists lived and still live from the viewers’ coins thrown onto the street paintings in appreciation for the work.

Festival Information

Free Admission:

May 25, 26, 27, 2019:  Memorial Day Weekend — Saturday, Sunday & Monday


Mission Santa Barbara:  2201 Laguna Street, Santa Barbara, California

The Santa Barbara Mission is located at the corner of Los Olivos and Laguna Streets.  From the 101 Freeway, take the Mission Street exit and travel east to Laguna Street, turn left and continue two blocks to the Mission entrance.  Additional parking is available on the Mission field.

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