Carnaval, traditionally a festival celebrating the onset of Spring and its associated themes of vitality and virility, actually serves as the annual unofficial kick-off of Summer in San Francisco. From Memorial Day to well past Labor Day, it’ll be hard to find a weekend without a festival or street fair of some kind happening in The City, not to mention the scores of other fairs, fests, fetes, parades and parties happening in towns and cities around the Bay Area.
The weather is predicted to be as summery as one could hope for a May day in SF, so you’ve got no excuse for missing this grand holiday opportunity to get happy with the locals.
CarnavalSF, the ultimate Mission District party, celebrates the blend of Latin cultures, flavors, musical styles, and traditions that make this neighborhood outstanding. Head to Harrison St. between 16th and 22nd Sts. on Saturday or Sunday to groove to funky latin and afro-latino rhythms, and savor a huge variety of ethnic cuisines made lovingly by locals. Art, dance, food and drink abound. The Carnaval parade, full of dance troupes, musical ensembles and sparklingly restored vintage Cadillacs (look for Grand Marshall Benjamin Bratt atop one) takes place Sunday beginning at 9 am. Try to get a spot close to the start of the route at Mission and 24th St. where the action is thick.
If you’ve misplaced your dancing shoes, or you’d rather use the long weekend to take a mini-break from The City, the seaside surf town of Santa Cruz, 72 miles south of San Francisco, is making an offer that’s tough to refuse.
Santa Cruz has for decades been a live music hot spot, and its annual music festivals are a big reason why. Despite being home to just under 60,000 people, the Santa Cruz Blues Festival has attracted some big name artists; this year Buddy Guy, Ben Harper and the Relentless 7s, Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks, and Taj Mahal highlight a deep and varied two day bill. The price is commensurate with the talent level though, $140 for a two day pass. Still, at a venue overlooking the Pacific, with headliner’s sets timed to coincide with sunset over the sea, this is one case of the blues that’s tough to resist.
You could continue your musical adventure by joining the crowd trying to score tickets to indie-psychedelic-pop favorite MGMT‘s sold out Saturday night show at the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium.