40th Annual Carnival San Francisco
You’ve been patient throughout an entire year, and now your self control is being rewarded! How, you ask? By the return of the 40th Annual Carnival San Francisco! Your brain might not even be entirely prepared for the waves of exuberance that are about to wash over you on May 26th and 27th on Harrison Street between 16th Street and 24th Street, but your soul is likely aching for this chance to celebrate life, music, and art.
Carnival San Francisco is, as many long-time attendees will tell you, an essential moment of San Francisco’s multicultural celebration. Going strong for 40 wonderful years, the theme for this year’s Carnival is “Roots of Carnival.” This means that the event will emerge as a remembrance of Carnival’s genesis: where it came from, why, and how it has transformed over the years.
The first Carnival San Francisco was held in 1978, and now those who can recall dancing to the Caribbean, Latin, and African beats as children are bringing their own youngsters (and grand-youngsters) to the event for an initiation into the possibilities of music and cultural expression. This year’s Carnival is aimed at igniting a passion for the history of the event, something that is increasingly important as the rampant gentrification of San Francisco threatens to overturn much of the historic diversity of this area.
As is the case for many such events, the highlight of Carnival is the Grand Parade. This year, the Grand Parade will take place at 9:30 in the morning on the second day of the Carnival celebration (May 27th). It’s a good idea to get there early for the best spot on the curb to watch the dizzying array of parade floats, bands, dancing troupes, costumed groups, and other celebrants weave down the street in full and unforgettable color.
Just because the Grand Parade is a highlight does not mean that the rest of the event is a throwaway. Coming to Harrison Street on May 26th and 27th will afford you the chance to wander through the booths selling original artworks and handcrafted wonders, eat at local food carts and restaurant booths that specialize in various global delicacies, and stand on almost any street corner and listen to musicians, watch performers, and generally join in the revelry of the Carnival moment.