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The San Francisco Carnaval festival and parade are this weekend. Here's what to know

"Watch live: San Francisco Carnaval Parade is broadcasting and streaming on PIX+ and CBS Bay Area." by KPIX | CBS NEWS BAY AREA on YouTube

Troupes of samba dancers, percussion ensembles, lowriders and a wide range of Latin music are just some of the delights in the Mission during the San Francisco Carnaval festival and parade this weekend.

The 46th annual Carnaval Festival and Grand Parade celebrates the diverse Latin American, Caribbean and African roots of the city's Mission District and the Bay Area overall. The are five main stages, 50 local performers and 400 vendors -- including food, which can be a boon to those who dance to the performances for hours or just love to eat.

What is Carnaval San Francisco?

Carnaval San Francisco cultivates and celebrates the diverse Latin American, Caribbean and African Diasporic roots of the Mission District and the San Francisco Bay Area. The annual festival and parade provide an outlet for hundreds of artists and educators to express themselves through dance, music, the visual arts and by creating spaces for community learning, school-based education, and advocacy.  

Where is the San Francisco Carnaval Festival?

The free two-day festival covers 17 blocks on Harrison Street between 16th and 24th Streets, and is billed as the largest and longest-running multicultural celebration in California, drawing upwards of 400,000 people.

2024 SF Carnaval Festival map
2024 SF Carnaval Festival map SF Carnaval

The festival grounds will feature a rich assortment of food, music, dance, arts, crafts, a new tech and gaming pavilion and other fun activities. The festival is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. both days and there are multiple entrances at both ends and along the length of the festival site. While it is a free event, donations are accepted and appreciated. 

What is the 2024 Carnaval San Francisco theme?

The theme for this year's Carnaval San Francisco is "Honoring Your Indigenous Roots."  While the idea of honoring indigenous heritage has always been central to Carnaval SF culture -- the Carnaval parade is started every year with a blessing ceremony from local Aztec dancers -- organizers felt it was important to acknowledge the spirit of indigenous people around the world and how important it is for humanity to co-exist with all of creation.

Who is performing at the Carnaval SF Festival?

There are dozens of bands and DJs performing over the course of the weekend, but the festival is highlighting several headliners who will be appearing. Noel Torres -- a regional Mexican singer/songwriter and accordionist who has been playing professionally since he was 15 years old -- takes the 22nd and Harrison stage at 4 p.m. Saturday, at the same time 21st century salsa and timba group Pirulo La Tribu from San Juan, Puerto Rico, deliver their modern twist on traditional Latin sounds at the 17th and Harrison stage. Cuban Latin pop singer Franco (aka Franco Javier Iglesias) plays the Caravana de la Bahia Stage at 23rd and Harrison at 5 p.m. and Banda Blanca plays that same stage at the same time Sunday.  

When is the Carnaval Grand Parade?

The crowning event of the 46th Annual Carnaval San Francisco is slated to begin at 9:30 a.m. at the corner of 24th and Bryant streets, proceeding west to Mission Street, then north on Mission down to 17th Street, where it will turn east and flow into the festival area. 

The  60-contingent line-up features over 3,000 artists representing the cultural heritages of Brazil, Mexico, Panama, Bolivia, Cuba, Peru, Puerto Rico, Nicaragua, Colombia, Trinidad & Tobago, Guatemala, El Salvador, and more. The Grand Parade will cover 20 blocks in the Mission. If you can't make the parade in person, CBS New Bay Area will be broadcasting and streaming all the action live starting at 10 a.m.

How will the Carnaval San Francisco impact traffic?

To accommodate the festival and parade, streets in the Mission District will be closed beginning as early as the afternoon of Friday, May 24, through early morning Monday, May 27. Muni will reroute around the Harrison St. festival site and the parade route.  

On Sunday, the following streets will be closed from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. for the parade, staging and takedown.

  • Mission between 15th and 24th streets
  • 15th St. between Mission and Alabama
  • 24th St. between York and Mission
  • Bryant between 17th St and Cesar Chavez
  • Harrison between 15th and 16th streets
  • Treat between Harrison and Alameda

Additional information on street closures and Muni reroutes is available on the SFMTA website. Drivers in the area should be advised to expect delays on the streets that are open.

Given the parking and traffic restrictions, BART will provide festival and parade attendees with an easy way to get to the Mission.

Additional information on the festival and parade are available at the official Carnaval San Francisco website.

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