Everything You Need to Know About Carnaval
New Orleans has Mardi Gras. San Francisco has Carnaval. Beginning in February and culminating every year on the Memorial Day weekend, Carnaval includes a Fat Tuesday Mardi Gras party, the annual king and queen competition and, of course, the two-day festival and parade coming up May 27-28, 2017 in the heart of the Mission District.
Conceived 39 years ago by a group of local musicians, artists and residents who wanted to bring the spirit of Latin American and Caribbean culture to the city, Carnaval San Francisco has become the largest annual multicultural celebration in California and draws over 400,000 attendees each year. Produced by Brava! For Women in the Arts, the event is one of many supported by San Francisco Grants for the Arts.
Here are a few tips for Carnaval goers:
Where is the Mission District?
The Mission District is bounded on the north by Hwy. 101 near 14th Street, Dolores and Potrero Streets on the west and east, and Cesar Chavez Street on the south. The neighborhood’s namesake is Mission Dolores.
Where to eat in the Mission District?
While you can polish off a burrito at one of the local taquerias, the Mission District also has its fair share of Michelin star winners and new hot spots with more sophisticated fare. And if you’re still hungry check out Marcia Gagliardi’s (“the tablehopper”) suggestions in her “First Timer’s Eating Guide to the Mission.”
What to see in the Mission District?
In addition to the historic Mission Dolores, one of 21 missions established throughout California, there are hundreds of colorful murals throughout the neighborhood. A few blocks to the west, Valencia Street offers eclectic shopping and a crop of new restaurants. A number of dance organizations are based in the Mission including Joe Goode Performance Group and ODC Dance Commons. Other cultural attractions include Brava Theater Center, Creativity Explored, The Marsh and Z Space.
Public transit options to Carnaval include Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) stops at its 16th and 24th Street stations. Muni buses in the area include 9, 12, 14, 22, 27, 33, 48, 49 and 67; for schedules and information visit 511.org. Street closures the near festival and parade route will be in effect. Public parking is available at the Mission-Bartlett Garage, 3255 21st St., and 16th and Hoff Garage, 42 Hoff St. Parking may be limited on festival weekends. Use Lyft and easily call a car to get to and from the Mission right from your smartphone.
Wild SF and The Real SF (as part of its day-long tour) offer walking tours of the Mission. Free guided tours of the Mission are offered by City Guides. Precita Eyes Mural Arts and Visitors Center offers mural walks on weekends; customized tours are available by appointment.
More Reasons to Come
Even if one should happen to miss Carnaval, there are still a number of events coming up including the 20th Street Block Party in September, Dia de los Muertos in November and the San Francisco International Film Festival in the spring which in 2017 centered much of its programming in the Mission.