As the summer comes to a close, excitement had been building for the annual Toronto Caribbean Festival. Formerly known as Caribana, this multi-faceted event brings together people of all nationalities and walks of life together in a spectacular celebration of Caribbean culture. The weekend of August 3rd-6th was the pinnacle of the month-long celebration of Caribbean culture, highlighted by the colorful and high-energy parade on August 4th running through Exhibition Place and along Lakeshore Boulevard. Hundreds of revelers in costume representing 11 Mas bands jammed down the road with hundreds of thousands of locals and tourists who all flocked to Canada’s biggest city to join the celebrations with food, drink, and – of course – lots of dancing.
This cultural festival was founded in 1967 in Toronto, and eventually grew to be one of the biggest festivals of its kind. The weekend is not one to be missed, with many Fetes, J’ouverts, picnics, boat cruises and parties to keep enthusiastic participants occupied while experiencing one of the most diverse cities in the world. The Junior Carnival keeps the youngest revelers engaged with a parade to call their own, while the King and Queen show crowns those who have the best-themed and most elaborate costumes as an introduction to the weekend before the main parade. The annual Gala that accompanies the weekend is a graceful evening of art and music, while the many talk tents provide comedy and stories vital to maintaining the oral traditions of Caribbean culture.
Run by CEO Denise Herrera-Jackson, this is now the largest street festival in North America, bringing in over 1.3 million tourists and over $400 million annually into the province of Ontario’s economy. It follows the format of the carnivals held in Trinidad and Tobago, and has grown from a legacy born out of slavery into one of the most-anticipated events of the summer in North America.
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