Mission Craziness

Carnaval isn't just an excuse for dancing in the streets and ogling Brazilian showgirls — there's also the food, the artwork, the rich tapestry of culture and history … okay, we give, it’s about dancing in the streets. Even if you can't samba in Rio, you can still get your fiesta on at the 30th anniversary of Carnaval San Francisco, which features a tantalizing swath of Latin American and Caribbean festivities across seven city blocks. This year's theme is "Many Cultures — One Spirit," a nod to the heterogeneous soul of Latin America and its shared traditions. "Carnaval" literally means "farewell to the flesh," but considering that the pre-Lent hedonism happened months ago, the festival isn't all libidinal craziness. This year's treats include a dance pavilion, where wallflowers and show-offs alike can learn to calypso, cha-cha, and cumbia; a health pavilion offering free screenings and information; and a Niñolandia, so the little ones can do their own thing. It also has a Zona Verde (Green Zone) spanning one block and making the festival the largest outdoor green event in the city. The eco-friendly space includes demonstrations on sustainable living, healing ceremonies reflecting the traditions of indigenous Latin cultures, and a feel-good message of peace that puts Mama Earth front and center. This year's musical headliner, New-Jersey based deSoL, draws from a medley of Latin and American influences to create distinctively percussive, party-vibe rhythms.

The Carnaval San Francisco Festival starts at 10 a.m. on May 24 and 25 on Harrison (between 16th and 24th sts.), S.F.
Sat., May 24, 9:30 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sun., May 25, 9:30 a.m.-6 p.m., 2008

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