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Carnaval San Francisco 2021: Details on One of the Largest Celebrations on Memorial Day Weekend

Jill on a windy day at the Golden Gate Bridge

by Jill Loeffler  •

  1. Updated May 7, 2021

Carnaval San Francisco will be much smaller and will not have a parade in 2021. This year, they are turning this popular event into more of a resource fair for the local community.

All events this year are at John O'Connell High School (2355 Folsom St, San Francisco, CA 94110), on Harrison between 18th and 20th Streets as well as on Alabama between 19th and 20th Streets. 

Some of the activities you can expect this year include services and resources to help Latino residents that have been and continue to be hit hard by the pandemic. Services include health screenings, COVID-19 resources, employment, education, and more. There will also be a handful of small dance performances and other entertainment. 

The event is free and will run for two days during Memorial Day Weekend. It's on May 29 - 30 from 12 pm to 5 pm both days.

Previous Year's Festival & Parade Details

Below you will learn more about how this festival and parade usually runs. The details below are from 2020 (which they ended up cancelling), but will give you an idea on what to expect in 2022 and beyond.

Carnaval San Francisco is a large, two-day celebration in the colorful Mission District. This year's event is on Memorial Day Weekend, May 23 - 24, 2020.

This SF festival celebrates Latin American and Caribbean arts and traditions. It runs from 10am to 6pm both days.

Colorful dancers in the annual Carnaval Parade in San Francisco

The highlight of the weekend is the Grand Parade on Sunday, May 24. It starts at 9:30am and lasts until around 2pm.

During the parade, you will have the chance to see more than 30 music and dance groups. Each one showcases elements of the year's theme. Here are just a few pictures from previous years.

A parade in SF's Mission District
Dancers in the Carnaval Parade in SF
Performers in green at the parade in SF
Colorful dancers in parade

The parade starts on 24th and Bryant Streets. From there, it heads west to Mission Street. It continues north on Mission to 17th Street, and ends at 17th and Harrison.

Here is a map of the parade route.

A map showing the Carnaval Parade Route in the Mission SF

Disclaimer: I receive a small commission from some of the links on this page.

More Festival Details

Carnaval San Francisco stretches out along eight city blocks of the Mission (find other things to do in this SF neighborhood). Most of the festival takes place on Harrison Street between 16th and 24th Streets.

The event is free, although they usually request a donation at the entrances.

This family-friendly event includes food, music, dance, and arts & crafts. You will also find other fun activities throughout the weekend.

Live Music

On every corner of the festival, DJs will be spinning Latin and Caribbean music such as cumbia, cha cha cha, tango, and salsa. You will hear hip hop rancheras, samba, and reggae music as well.

Carnaval San Francisco will also include several areas of live bands.

The main stage is at the corner of 17th and Harrison. This is where you will find the most popular performers during the festival.

Additional entertainment will be at the following locations:

  • 20th and Harrison
  • 22nd and Harrison
  • Inside the Art Pavilion
  • At the 18th Street DJ Booth
  • At the 19th Street DJ Booth
  • At the 22nd Street DJ Booth

Click here for a full schedule of performances this year.

Places to Stay

If you plan to stay all weekend long, then I recommend finding a great hotel in Union Square. This centrally located district is just a quick 15- to 20-minute bus ride away from the Carnaval San Francisco Festival.

Click here for my recommendations in this district.

Click here to find great deals in Union Square on TripAdvisor.com.

Weather in May

The weather in San Francisco for Carnaval is wonderful. It's usually around 60 to 65 and sunny. I recommend wearing layers in case the breezes kick up and cool it down a bit.

>> Visit my weather in May page for more details

Tips to Get Here

From Union Square

  • BART: The fastest way to get here from Union Square is by taking BART. It picks up at the underground station at Market & Powell Streets. Take it to either the 16th or 24th Street Stations. Then head six blocks east to Harrison Street (you will need to cross Mission Street to get there).
  • 27-Bryant Bus: You can also pick up the 27 on the corner of Market and 5th Streets. This will take you to 18th and Bryant. Once you get off the bus, walk two blocks east to Harrison Street

From Fisherman's Wharf

  • 49-Mission Bus: The best way to get here from Fisherman's Wharf is by taking the 49-Mission bus. Pick it up on the corner of Van Ness Avenue and North Point Street. It will take you all the way to the Mission District. Hop off at the 18th Street stop and head across Mission Street toward Harrison. It's about a six-block walk.
  • Note: Since the parade goes down Mission Street on Sunday, the route for this bus will change that day. You will probably need to get out at the 16th Street stop on Sunday in order to get to the festival and parade. Ask the bus driver for the stop closest to your destination.

Other Top Events on Memorial Day Weekend

Memorial Day Event at the National Cemetery: One of the biggest events this weekend is at the National Cemetery in the Presidio. It starts with a military parade, followed by speeches by top local officials, then ends at around 1:30pm with a 21-gun salute. Click here for more details on this annual event.

SF Theater: Every Memorial Day Weekend, you will find a variety of theater productions. On stage, you will find everything from Broadway musicals like The Lion King, to small independent shows at intimate theaters throughout the city. Click here to learn more about this weekend's theater shows.

Free Walking Tours: If you want to learn more about the history of SF, then head out on one of the free walking tours offered by SF City Guides. Each day, you will find around 6 to 10 tours a day. They cover topics such as Fisherman's Wharf, the Gold Rush, and the Golden Gate Bridge. Click here for a schedule of walking tours for this holiday weekend in SF.

Carnaval: Tips to Attend this Memorial Day Weekend Celebration

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