The Italian Heritage Parade in San Francisco is the city's oldest civic event. It's also the nation's oldest Italian American Parade dating back to 1868.
This annual event is part of the Columbus Day celebration. It starts in Fisherman's Wharf and makes it way from block to block until it reaches SF's North Beach District. This area is also known as Little Italy.
The parade begins at 12:30 pm on Sunday, October 8 at the corner of Jefferson and Powell Streets. It heads straight down Jefferson and turns south at Leavenworth for two blocks.
It then turns again at Columbus and makes its final turn on Vallejo. Finally it circles back to Washington Square Park for the small family-friendly festival.
Saints Peter and Paul Bazaar starts on Friday, October 6 and runs from 5 pm to 9 pm. It's also all weekend long from 11 am to 6 pm on Saturday and Sunday.
The Italian Heritage Parade and activities at Washington Square Park are all free and open to the public.
The parade includes handcrafted floats, local high school marching bands, an appearance from Christopher Columbus, and performances by traditional Italian musical artists.
You will also find some great wine and food deals at restaurants along the parade route in North Beach. I recommend heading over to Columbus Avenue early to secure your outside spot to watch the parade and enjoy your Italian goodies.
The best way to get to the parade is to use public transportation. This event takes place the same weekend as Fleet Week, which draws thousands of people into the city all weekend long.
You can use the F-Streetcar, the 30, 45, or 49 buses, or the Powell-Mason cable car from Union Square (click here for my tips on avoiding the long cable car lines at Union Square).
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I recommend booking early if you want to stay nearby. The best place is in Fisherman's Wharf, where you can walk just a few blocks to the parade. Another great option is Union Square, as there are plenty of public transit options from there.
You can also look for the best hotel deals throughout the city if you want to stay elsewhere. Click here to check out their selection and to find the best rate.
Fleet Week: As mentioned above, this year's Italian Heritage Parade coincides with the large Fleet Week celebration. Both take place in Fisherman's Wharf. If you are attending the parade, make sure to also check out the great events for Fleet Week. Click here to learn more.
Arab Film Festival: If you are interested in learning about the real Arab cultures around the world, head over to this year's Arab Film Festival. This event allows independent Arab filmmakers to show you the stories that are not often covered on TV or in the movies.
Halloween: If you love Halloween, then you must come to San Francisco to check out this year's celebrations. It's one of the best places to be! You will find dozens of 21+ events, kids activities, and more. Click here for more information.