SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – There will be all kinds of colorful costumes around San Francisco’s Mission District this weekend. That’s because a major celebration – the Carnaval – is back.

Carnaval is a deeply rooted tradition in San Francisco. With the exception of a two-year break during the pandemic, the event has been a dazzling display of Latin talent for four decades.

The revelry is an ode to the homelands of the city’s historic Latin American community. Thousands of musicians and dancers make their way both between and atop decorated floats, bringing with them the gift of song and dance born in countries far and wide, like Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, and Cuba.

It’s a tradition dating back to 1979, and the memories for the festival’s executive director Rodrigo Duran go way back. He attended the parade with his mother as a kid.

“So, I’m a Carnaval baby. My mom was actually pregnant seven months with me on a float about 33 years ago, so I’m a product of Carnaval, literally,” he said.

Duran explained that the festival is so much more than what meets the eye. Throughout all the fun, the Mission becomes a place for people to unite and do business.

“A lot of us didn’t have the privilege to this day to join a country club or be part of a space where you intentionally network,” Duran said. “Well, Carnaval always served as that platform. The festival and parade is a point for people to meet, to engage, to have dialogue and discuss and make business.”

And for this year’s Oakland-based headliners Los Rakas, Carnaval is exactly how the Panamanian hip-hop duo linked up.

“We got a lot of history with Carnaval,” said Raka Dun, a member of the duo. “Me and Rico have disconnected for like a year and then we meet up back again at Carnaval, and that’s when I told him, ‘Yo, I’m making music to come check me out at this stage on this street.’ He came and checked me out and ever since we been making music.”

“We from Panama but it was also born from out here in the Bay, so it’s an honor,” said Raka Rich, the other member of the duo. 

Musicians will be up on stage entertaining audiences well past the end of the parade at 2:00 p.m. But if you want to catch all the action, head over to 24th and Bryant Streets at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday. The parade will make its way down mission street to 15th Street and Harrison Street, where it will end around 2:30 p.m. For a full route of the parade, click HERE