Caribana Festival

Caribana Weekend 2024

North America’s Largest Caribbean Carnival.

Toronto’s Caribbean Caribana festival is also the largest cultural event in North America and it has grown exponentially since its inception in 1967. The festival now spans three weeks, attracting over a million tourists for the August weekend finale. The festival attracts families, young singles, and celebrities, with the main parade occurring over Canada’s Simcoe Day Weekend in August.

The festival also coincides with the August 1st holiday known as Emancipation Day. This holiday celebrates Britain’s passage of the Slavery Abolition Act, which marked the start of freedom for 800,000 enslaved people in all its colonies on Aug. 1, 1834. The Caribbean tradition of parading through the street was founded in celebration of freedom and emancipation from slavery.

The final weekend is marked by the street Parade of Bands, featuring costumed dancers and live Caribbean music. Each band displays an artistic theme through costume-making, with a judging spot evaluating each band’s costume design, energy, and presentation.

The kings and queens of the bands compete on stage at Lamport Stadium to be named King and Queen of Carnival. In addition to the main parade, the Caribbean community also celebrates a smaller pre-dawn parade called J’ouvert, which is modeled after Caribbean festivals like Spice Mas and Trinidad Carnival. J’ouvert is a rhythmic part of the Carnival celebration, featuring steelpan bands and improvised musical instruments. Spectators and performers are often covered in mud, flour, baby powder, or water-colored paints, often resembling evil spirits to ward off.

Other Festival Events include:

  • Junior Carnival Parade
  • Junior King and Queen Showcase
  • Fêtes (parties): Leading up to the main parade a number of Caribbean music artists perform in Toronto. These parties are generally called “fêtes“, for a French-Creole Caribbean word meaning “festival”, and usually start in June/July.
  • Jump-ups (dances)
  • Picnics (Food Fest): Picnics are two days of feasting and dancing to music.
  • Calypso tents (shows)
  • Talk tents: Talk tents contain shows featuring storytellers, comedians and others well versed in oral traditions.
  • Gala (Carnival Ball): The gala is an evening of elegance celebrating Carnival music, arts, and the works of the pioneers of the Caribana festival.
  • Pan blockos/blockorama (steel band street parties)
  • Carnivale Music Festival
  • and more!

Date

Aug 01 - 05 2024

More Info

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Location

Throughout central Toronto, Canada

Organizer

Various
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