North America’s largest Outdoor Street Festival has Big Plans for its 56th Year May 31, 2023 (Toronto, ON) - Toronto Caribbean Carnival gave the media a sneak peek at what’s in store for the 56th year of the month-long festival that injects nearly half a billion dollars into the economy and attracts close to 2 million people to the Grand Parade alone. Hosted by CTV News Anchor Nathan Downer and CTV Reporter Jessica Smith, it was a packed house at the Ontario Science Centre on Wednesday, May 31st as the Caribbean vibes spiced up the space typically reserved for school excursions.
“We were so pleased to announce our partnerships with Toronto FC, Metrolinx, Disney, Grace Foods, Toronto Blue Jays, Bell Media, and Porter Airlines” exclaimed Mischka Crichton, Festival Management Committee CEO. “We are also grateful for the continued support from all three levels of government. The costs involved in putting on the events leading up to the Grand Parade, plus that massive street party have skyrocketed post-pandemic. We continue to look for funding and partnerships because we know how important this festival is to the cultural fabric of Canada.”
The theme this year is: Diversity and Culture Lives Here! A testament to the open arms of organizers who invite everyone to play mas, watch the events or support this showcase of pageantry and freedom. Guest speakers at the media launch included: Councillor Michael Thompson, Joe Sellors, Assistant Director of Arts and Culture Services at the City of Toronto, Lawrence Hughes, Executive Vice-President and Chief People Office at Porter Airlines, Justin Morrow, Technical Development Manager, MLSE and Karla Avis-Birch, Chief Planning Officer for Metrolinx.
“One of the areas we are continuing to build on is educating entrepreneurs on how to run their businesses efficiently and effectively through our Building Black Entrepreneurs Program,” explains Jennifer Hirlehey, Chair, Board of Directors - Festival Management Committee, producers of Toronto Caribbean Carnival. “We are also going into elementary and high schools and educating young people about the history, artistry and craftsmanship of costume-making.” The aim of the program is to highlight the historical importance and contributions of Canadians of Caribbean heritage, and by extension, African, Indian, Chinese, European and the many other places from where Caribbean people originate. The program also highlights the contributions of individuals from the Caribbean community to the wider Canadian society.
The brilliance of the Carnival was on full display with a mini-parade of masqueraders from featured bands; SugaCayne, Lux Carnival, Freedom Mas Band, Fantazia, Sublime Mas, Epic Carnival and Costume Creators Cultural Art showcasing the vibrant costumes that will be on the Lakeshore on August 5th. Much to the delight of the audience, the Ontario Steelpan Association (OSA) Steel Orchestra played some of new soca songs of the season mixed in with some classics. Representing, the Organization of Calypso Performing Artistes (OCPA), Henry Gomez aka King Cosmos got the crowd moving with his infectious song, Pull Together.
The Toronto Caribbean Carnival’s official public kickoff is on Tuesday, July 11th at Nathan Phillips Square from 11am to 8pm. Here is the schedule of events:
Junior King and Queen Showcase: Sunday July 16th at Scarborough Town Centre
Junior Carnival Parade: Saturday July 22nd at Malvern Community Centre
OCPA Calypso Showcase: Sunday July 20 at Latvian Culture Centre
King and Queen Showcase: Thursday August 3rd at Lamport Stadium
Pan Alive Panorama: Friday August 4th at Lamport Stadium
The Grand Parade: Saturday August 5th along Lakeshore Blvd.
Pan in de Park: Sunday August 6th at Neilson Park
TCC International Food Festival: Sunday August 6th at Neilson Park
This year’s Face of the Festival, Keyanna Bell was introduced at the media event and received a surprise on stage when she was presented with a pair of complimentary tickets for a Porter flight and TFC promotional gear. Bell says she is excited to take on her new role as ambassador for the festival. Other key events to watch out for:
Metrolinx will unveil a Toronto Caribbean Carnival themed double decker GO Bus as part of its role as the Official Transportation Partner
Through the multi-year partnership with Toronto FC, a special day of mentorship will be held at MLSE Launchpad for students in the Young Learners Program, which is supported by the Festival Management Committee, Toronto area schools and Toronto FC
TFC Caribbean Culture Night on July 8, 2023 to highlight the sounds, cuisine, revelry and arts of the Caribbean community; Junior Masqueraders will parade across the field at halftime
Toronto Caribbean Carnival teams up with the Blue Jays on Friday July 28th for pregame and interactive activities throughout the game
Partnership support is expressed with gratitude to the following: Scarborough Town Centre, Exhibition Place, Ontario Science Centre, Metrolinx, United Local 46, Grace Foods, Bell Media, CP24, OCAF, the Federal Government, Provincial Government of Ontario, City of Toronto, Toronto Blue Jays, Toronto FC, BBEP and Porter Airlines
For more information on events, tickets and media accreditation, please visit: torontocarnival.ca
To access video and photos of Toronto Caribbean Carnival, please join our media group here
Media Contact: Fennella@torontocarnival.ca
This event has been financially assisted by the Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund, a program of the Government of Ontario through the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, administered by the Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund Corporation.