The 41st edition of Carnaval San Francisco is almost upon us. The two-day celebration begins on Saturday with a free festival and concert, which this year will feature legendary band Los Tigres del Norte.
Here is what you need to know about one of the most diverse cultural celebrations in the country.
When Is Carnaval SF?
Carnaval SF is on Saturday and Sunday, May 25-26, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The grand parade begins at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday.
Where Does Carnaval SF Take Place?
The festival takes place on Harrison Street between 16th and 24th streets. The parade travels along 24th Street, starting at the juncture with Harrison Street, and then turns north on Mission. At 15th Street, performers turn back toward Harrison — where the parade ends.
What Is Carnaval SF?
Born out of the dreams and longings of expat communities in the city, Carnaval San Francisco began in 1979, circling around Precita Park on a drizzly February day.
Despite the eventual move to May — in search of better weather — the festive nature of the pre-Lent celebrations remained, along with the commemoration of Caribbean, Central and South American heritages.
Over the years, Carnaval branched out to include Asian Pacific and Hawaiian communities in the festivities.
Carnaval San Francisco is similar to its famed Brazilian counterpart, with a blend of Catholic and pagan influences and African and native music — all with a family focus.
What Can I See at Carnaval SF?
The event includes dozens of musical performances, food, arts and crafts. It has been an annual S.F. staple since it began, pausing once in 1985 due to an organization reshuffle. As the parade's executive producer, Roberto Hernandez, put it: "You don't cancel Christmas and you don't cancel Carnaval."
How Do I Get to Carnaval SF?
You can take BART: There are stations at 16th and Mission streets as well as 24th and Mission (Note: Mission St. is on the Parade route). Note track work this weekend will shutter some stations in the East Bay.
You can also get there via MUNI: Route 22, 33 & 55 on 16th St. Route 48 on 24th St. Some buses have been rerouted for Sunday.