A 30-year-old tradition returns to the Bay Area when the San Francisco Cultural Arts Traditions Carnaval festival, one of the largest multicultural celebrations in California, kicks off this weekend.

Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to attend the two-day event, which will include a parade Sunday morning, to celebrate Latin American and Caribbean culture, according to event organizers.

This year’s festival, which is called “Colors of Sound, Splashes of Culture,” will include a dance pavilion, health pavilion, drum grove, kids’ area, food pavilion, soccer pavilion, live entertainment stage, and green zone with eco-friendly products and exhibits.

Dancers will teach and perform salsa, samba, reggae, tango, hip-hop, merengue, calypso, cha cha cha, cumbia and mambo, event organizers said. Vendors will sell traditional food and crafts.

The festival parade will feature grand marshals Peter and Benjamin Bratt, who will be joined by the cast of their new movie “La Mission.”

A float will also feature the King and Queen of Carnaval, who were selected earlier this month in a competition.

Event organizers are encouraging festivalgoers to use public transportation, especially Sunday, when many streets in the Mission District will be closed for the parade, according to BART officials.

BART will run extra long trains this weekend to accommodate crowds going to Carnaval and other Memorial Day weekend events.

Both Mission Street BART stations are a short walk to the Carnaval festival, which will be held on Harrison Street between 23rd and 16th streets.

San Francisco Cultural Arts Traditions was formed in December to encourage and celebrate multiculturalism. The city’s Carnaval celebration began 32 years ago in the Mission District.

Carnaval will last from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The parade will begin at 9:30 a.m. Sunday at 24th and Mission streets.

Photo: Steve Rhodes

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