By Raiza Giorgi

One of the Santa Ynez Valley’s most family-friendly events will return for the third year in a row when the Fastelavn Festival will commence at 5 p.m. on Sunday, March 1, at Bethania Lutheran Church in Solvang. 

“It’s amazing people are still telling me they don’t know about this festival and we hope that it just gets bigger and better with each year,” said Bethania Pastor Chris Brown. 

The history behind this Danish tradition originates from a Northern European carnival that meant ‘goodbye meat,’ which people began fasting for Lent. 

Children would dress up in costumes and historically were known to put a real black cat in a barrel and beat the barrel until it broke and the cat ‘ran out of town’ carrying evil spirits with it. 

“There will most definitely not be a live cat in our barrel; we use a stuffed black cat, as that part of the celebration was very cruel,” Brown said. 

Whomever breaks the barrel open will be crowned King or Queen of the cats. 

There will be a Danish hot dog dinner with all the fixings, and beer and wine as well as a costume contest and raffle prizes. 

“This event is for the whole family and we just want people to come out and have a great time and continue a fun tradition,” Brown said. 

Tickets are $8 for adults, $5 for children 3-10 years and those under 3 are free. 

Tickets can be purchased by calling the church office at 805-688-4637 or email