Bay Area/ San Francisco/ Arts & Culture
Published on May 28, 2024
PHOTOS: San Francisco's Carnaval Celebrates Culture Over Memorial Day WeekendAll photos: Cheryl L. Guerrero/Hoodline

The “largest multicultural celebration on the West Coast” brought crowds and lots of cultural color to the Mission District over the weekend. The Carnaval San Francisco Festival and Parade honors the diversity of our state’s Latin American and Caribbean heritage.  This year’s 46th annual festival filled the streets and attendees reveled in the sunshine for the Grand Parade on Sunday.

This year’s theme, “Honoring Indigenous Roots,” is something organizers said has “always been a part of our Carnaval culture."

A dancer from Raio de Luz Samba Performers. | Photo: Cheryl L. Guerrero/Hoodline

This year’s Grand Marshal of the parade, Dr. Rigoberta Menchú Tum, highlighted the importance of indigenous culture and activism. Dr. Menchú Tum, the 1992 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, is a Maya K’iche’ woman from Guatemala, as well as a human rights activist, writer, and political figure.  Her 1983 book, I, Rigoberta Menchú, detailed the hardship and injustice of her early life as well as the murder of her family by the military. 

Executive Director of Carnaval San Francisco, Rodrigo Durán, called her a global icon and personal hero. “We are grateful to have her as our Grand Marshal,” Durán said in a statement, “Her tireless commitment to social justice, her unwavering resilience, and her dedication to empowering and uplifting women and indigenous communities serve as a beacon of inspiration.”

Grand Marshal of the Parade, Dr. Rigoberta Menchú Tum. | Photo: Cheryl L. Guerrero/Hoodline

Carnaval’s King and Queen this year were Yeison Jimenez and Monica Mendoza. Jimenez, a Colombian dancer, has been dancing with Mi Tierra Colombiana and the San Jose City College Dance Department. Mendoza is “Champion of the Marinera Norteña,” the national dance of Peru.

This year’s parade featured almost 70 contingents of dancers, musicians, schools, and floats. The over 3,000 artists represented cultural heritages from Mexico, Brazil, Puerto Rico, Peru, Cuba, Guatemala, and more. 

Here are more scenes from Sunday’s celebration: 

A samba dancer enjoys the sunshine.

The Nicaragua Danza, Hijos del Maíz dancers. 

A dancer with Esforço! during the parade.

The Ballet Folklórico Pubelo Nuevo group lines up. 

A member of Asociacion Mayab makes her way through the parade route balancing a bottle on her head. 


Lowrider bicyclists line up as part of the starting contingent. 


The dancers from Cathedral City High School Ballet Folklorico perform.


Members of Grupo Samba Rio dance before the start of the parade.


A dancer with Bloco Ginga Brasil during the parade. 


The Raio de Luz Samba Performers dance on Bryant Street before the parade. 


A member of the Cathedral City High School Ballet Folklorico contingent. 


A member of the American Indian Cultural Center dances on Mission Street during the parade.


An Aquarela Samba Dancers and Samba School member smiles for a portrait.


Performers on stilts make their way down Mission Street.


La Cumbiamba Colombiana dancers during the parade.


Miss San Simon CA with the Caporales San Simon Cochabamba – California contingent. 


Danza Mestiza performs.


Dancer with Xiuhcoatl Danza Azteca, which opens the parade every year with a blessing.


Part of La Selva Loca contingent dance down Mission Street.

Nicaragua Danza, Hijos del Maíz dancers make their way down Mission Street.