Solvang, Danish for “sunny fields”, is a small town of around 5200 residents in Santa Barbara County and was incorporated as a city on May 1, 1985. But its history goes back much further. It was actually founded in 1911 by a group Danish immigrants who were traveling West to establish a Danish colony in a warmer climate. They purchased nearly 9000 acres at $40/acre and a few of the prominent members traveled back to places like Iowa and Nebraska to convince other Danes to buy land in the new colony. Before long a small town was established.
Initially buildings were built in the same style as anywhere else in the area, but after World War II there arose a growing interest in the concept of a “Danish village.” In the 1940’s buildings began to be erected after traditional Danish style and older existing buildings received facelifts. Thatched roofs, windmills and a replica of The Little Mermaid statue from Copenhagen soon graced the town.
Solvang celebrated its 100th year anniversary in 2011. Henrik, Prince Consort of Denmark, visited accompanied by the Danish ambassador and dedicated Solvang’s Centennial Plaza. In his remarks he commended Solvang as having been forged by individuals “who have made a new home without forgetting the old nation of their ancestors.”
Solvang has celebrated a festival every year since 1936 known as “Danish Days”, an annual event held each September. The festivities include music, folk dancing, marching bands and processions down the streets, and even an æbleskiver eating contest.
Solvang is located on an elevation of 505 ft (154 m), it lies in the Santa Ynez Valley some 46 miles (74 km) north-west of Santa Barbara and about 15 miles (24 km) north of the Pacific coast. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 2.4 square miles (6.2 km2), 99.95% of it land and 0.05% of it water.
Solvang enjoys sunshine throughout the year with clear, warm days and cool nights. Average temperatures vary between 54 and 76 °F (12 and 24 °C) with highs reaching the upper 80s °F (lower 30s °C) and winter lows in the 40s °F (below 10 °C). Average annual rainfall for Solvang (recorded between 1964 and 2010) is 19.31 inches (49 cm).
Solvang is 140 miles (230 km) north of Los Angeles.