Thanks to San Francisco’s status as a coastal city, melting-pot atmosphere and reputation for diversity, our city is home to a rich range of cultural experiences. Carnaval San Francisco is easily one of the most beloved. This annual celebration showcasing the vibrancy of the city's Latin American and Caribbean communities is held annually over Memorial Day weekend, and attracts thousands of people from all over the world to enjoy the food, music, dance, and art of these global cultures. Here’s a closer look at what to expect when you attend the San Francisco’s 45th annual Carnaval.
A History of Hedonism
The origins of Carnaval as a celebration date back to ancient European traditions. The explorers and settlers of the colonial era brought their customs to Latin America and the Caribbean during their travels. Over time, these traditions evolved and fused with the unique cultural identities of the local communities, resulting in the colorful and festive celebrations that are now known the world over as Carnaval. Similar to the Mardi Gras celebration in New Orleans (with which Carnaval shares common evolutionary roots), the event was intended as something of a “last hurrah” to sneak in a little debauchery prior to the onset of austere Lenten observations.
Carnaval in San Francisco
The Bay Area’s version of Carnaval was first held in 1978, and has become one of the city's most looked forward to and best-attended cultural happenings in the years since. Every year, this two-day event includes a spirited street fair, live music, art, irresistible food, unique vendors and community education), all culminating in a grand parade during the Sunday sunshine. The majority of the festival’s official events take place in the vibrant Mission District, which is known for its strong global cultural influences.
A Prismatic Parade
The highlight of the Carnaval Festival is undoubtedly the annual parade. Each year, the community displays its cultural pride via colorful floats, extravagant costumes, and energetic music and dance performances by both area and international troupes. Spectators and participants alike are treated to a non-stop feast of music, movement and magic that truly celebrates the diverse cultures that make up San Francisco. This year’s parade is slated to begin near the Grand Theater at 9:30 am, with the route taking the parade down the community’s arterial Mission Street from 24th to 17th.
Festive, Family-Friendly Fair
The famous Carnaval street fair takes place both days of the festival, and features incredible live music, dance exhibitions, and food vendors serving up an endless array of delicious dishes from around the world. Visitors can sample traditional South American cuisine such as empanadas, arepas, and plantains, as well as tropical flavors from the island nations across the entirety of the Caribbean. The street fair also includes a marketplace where craft vendors sell handmade art, clothing, musical instruments, take-home food, and other globally-inspired goods. Another popular feature at every year’s Carnaval is the Children's Pavilion, a dedicated area for kids to enjoy interactive art activities, face painting, and performances by dance groups. The Children's Pavilion is a safe and welcoming way for families to enjoy the festival together.
Carnaval truly offers no end of amazing activities for visitors to discover. In addition to the parade, music stages, dance exhibitions and street fair, attendees can also look forward to a number of other grand goings-on throughout the weekend. These include a kickoff party on Friday night, a Carnaval Fun Run on Saturday morning, and — of course — upbeat after-parties at local nightclubs and bars.
Hotel Caza is The Perfect Carnaval Stay
The Carnaval cultural festival is an important event for the entire San Francisco community, as it celebrates the diverse cultures that make up the city. Every year, people of all backgrounds become a part of this vibrant gala that honors the diversity and richness of the Bay Area, as well as serving as a testament to the power of international fellowship and understanding. Hotel Caza is proud to honor these communities, and offer those attending a fantastic accommodation option.
Check out our Special Offers Page to reserve the getaway package that best fits your plans, and we’ll see you at Carnaval!