May 23, 2024 - Culture

What you need to know about Carnaval San Francisco

three people in colorful outfits dancing on the street

The scene at last year's Carnaval Grand Parade. Photo: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Carnaval San Francisco, an annual celebration of Latin American, Caribbean and African Diasporic culture, is this weekend, and this year's theme is honoring Indigenous roots.

Why it matters: "We bring different worlds together under one roof," Carnaval executive director Rodrigo Durán told KQED.

Context: Carnaval San Francisco is a free, two-day festival with a Grand Parade that spans 20 blocks in the Mission.

Flashback: The first Carnaval took place in 1979 at Precita Park after a group of local musicians, artists and residents united for an event that showcased the spirit of Latin American and Caribbean culture.

  • One of the original organizers, Adela Chu, was first exposed to Carnaval in Colón, Panama, in childhood, she told Found SF.
  • Fast forward to adulthood in San Francisco, and she realized "a city like San Francisco without a Carnaval didn't make any sense" because all of the pieces — the spirit, the drummers and the dancers — were there, she said.

What's next: The festival portion of Carnaval begins Saturday at 11am and the parade begins Sunday at 9:30am.

  • Harrison Street, from 16th to 24th streets, will be closed to cars all weekend, KQED reports.
  • On Sunday, Mission Street will be closed between 15th and 24th streets.
  • Expect parking in the area to be difficult, so public transit — specifically BART — will be your best bet.
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