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Carnaval Returns to the Mission This Weekend

The place to be this Memorial Day weekend

Signaling the end of spring and the impending summer season to come, the annual Carnaval festival returns to the Mission this Memorial Day weekend. The annual two-day event features dance, music, food, and a glorious (not to mention much-needed) appreciation of the Mission District's history.

Founded by a group of artists in 1979, the festival was initially held in Precita Park and later Dolores Park before centering in the heart of the Mission on Harrison Street between 16th and 24th Streets. The entire party spans eight blocks and goes all day on May 28 and May 29.

This year's theme, ¡Viva La Madre Tierra!, which is Spanish for "Mother Earth," tips its hat to Mother Nature's far reaching effects in many cultures worldwide.

On Sunday, the Grand Parade will begin at 9:30am at the corner of 24th and Bryant Streets, then proceed west to Mission Street. Color, feathers, dancing, low-riders, and an overwhelming sense of neighborhood pride will be in order.

Per the official Carnaval site, "Brazilian-style 'escola' samba schools with up to 300 members dance through the streets in fantastic feathered headdresses or sweeping Bahia skirts, while Caribbean contingents perform the music and dance of the Bahamas, Cuba, Jamaica, Puerto Rico and Trinidad." Mexican Aztec performers, African drummers, Polynesian dancers, Japanese drummers, giant puppets and folkloric groups will also be on-hand during the parade.

All of this is prefaced on Saturday by a street party that will prove hard on both your dancing shoes and your liver. Not to be missed.

Expect road closures and Muni reroute throughout the weekend in the Mission. (Really, we suggest not driving there if at all possible.)