Caribana Carnival: A Popular Festival of Caribbean Culture

Caribana festival is the popular cultural and traditional Caribbean carnival, which is celebrated every year in Toronto, Canada. Caribana is the former name of the festival. Today, it is known as the Scotiabank Toronto Caribbean Carnival. It is the biggest street festival of North America, witnessed by approx. 2 million visitors every year. Hundreds and thousands of people from all over the world participate in the grand street parade, which is the final event of the carnival.

This Toronto carnival is one of the first Caribbean Carnivals along with Notting Hill carnival and the carnival celebrated in New York City. This annual festival was introduced to Canada by the immigrants from St. Lucia, Barbados, Jamaica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Antigua, Grenada and Dominica. This Toronto carnival (Caribana) is a beautiful reflection of different types of carnivals that are celebrated across the Caribbean islands. It is a three-week fiesta of Caribbean cultural, music, visual art, cuisine, revelry and performing arts. In the final week of the celebration, the Grand Parade of Bands is carried out.

The carnival was first celebrated in the year 1967 to give tribute to Canada’s Centennial. Earlier, it was known as Scotiabank Caribana; but in 2011, it was renamed as “Scotiabank Caribbean Carnival Toronto”. Street parade and the music are the major attraction of the carnival that energizes people and blows up the city. People enjoy and dance in the street parade as well as throughout the carnival celebration on the melodies and rhythms of Soca, Steel Pan, Reggae, Calypso, Chutney and Brass Bands. The biggest event of the carnival is the Caribbean Carnival Parade, which is going to be celebrated on August 1, 2015. Besides this big and main street parade, the Caribbean community celebrates a smaller pre-dawn parade, which is popular among people with name J’ouvert.

During the grand street parade, various Caribbean music artists perform in Toronto city. These musical parties are popularly known as “fêtes”. Bands are also an important part of the parade that compete with one another to heighten-up the carnival celebration. Besides musical performances and food festival, the carnival also attracts people because of its elaborated, colorful feather costumes. Varieties of quills are used to make these alluring costumes. Ostrich feathers, cocktail quills, pheasant feathers, turkey quills, etc. are some of the commonly used quills for this purpose. These fascinating feather costumes, props and the live dance performances bring the whole carnival celebration to life and make it a remarkable experience for everyone.