History of the Solvang Festival Theater

The Solvang Festival Theater was built in 1974 by the community in an effort to revitalize the town of Solvang and bring visitors to the valley.

Community Leaders, Earl Petersen, Royce Lewellen and Bob Raleigh originally came up with the idea of building a theater in Solvang and brought in Donavan Marley from the Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts, PCPA. The idea took fire and the community began raising money for the construction.

Erling and Sue Pohls led the building effort by taking a busload of local tradesmen up to Santa Maria to see PCPA’s facility and talk with the theater staff. Construction began in June 1974 with local tradesmen and community volunteers and the first production was “Once Upon a Mattress” in August of 1974, a mere 58 days later.

Not everything was as it is now. The seats from the Mets stadium came three years later. The addition of what is now the Lobby Garden and the Patron’s Garden were the result of generous gifts from John and Jan Severson and Betty Williams.

The theater has been a much loved work in progress for almost forty years. In those years PCPA has brought dozens of exhilarating, moving, and dazzlingly beautiful performances to the Solvang Festival Theater. They have brought laughter and tears to all who have attended.

The theater has also been used for a variety of fundraising concerts and events including Jazz and Comedy Festivals. Some of the artists who have performed here include: David Crosby, Graham Nash, Joan Baez, Clint Black, Bonnie Raitt, Kenny Loggins and Jim Messina and Tommy Castro. More recent concerts have featured up-and-coming country bands, The Farm and Maggie Rose.

In recent years we have added many new events in the Garden including Family Night at the Theater and our Sunday Jazz in the Garden series. We strive to meet and surpass our mission of bringing quality live performing arts to the Solvang Festival Theater.

Musical Magic: Solvang Festival Theater History in Music  Film credit to Bob Williams, Films for Good