A million Caribbean carnival fans is expected to attend the two week long Caribana festival in Toronto Canada that is now underway. Arguably Caribana may be regarded as the biggest Carnival gathering in the world. With fans from all corners of the world converging on the streets of Toronto.
Established in 1967, the Caribana festival has morphed from a community-based parade to a Scotiabank-sponsored two-week festival. Caribana is modelled on Trinidad’s Carnival, which is based on centuries-old traditions of dancing in masquerade (hence the term “mas” bands to denote costumed bands playing steel drums, or pan). As in Trinidad, Caribana features steel pan competitions, the crowning of a King and Queen, and a pre-dawn parade called J’Ouvert. Though most performers and participants are of Caribbean descent, some are merely Carib-ophiles who get in the groove with similar gusto.
“I take a lot of artists to be interviewed. If I take them to a television station where there are a lot of Caribbean-Canadians working, there’s a real buzz. But when I bring them to another outlet which isn’t quite so diversified, they have no clue,” Caribana rep Stephen Weir said in a recent interview.
Caribana is expected to generate over $438 million according to a Toronto Star report published earlier this year – almost double the economic impact of Toronto’s Film Festival, Jazz Festival and Pride Week combined.