Toronto’s Caribana Festival has its roots in the Caribbean and made its way to America via immigrants who wanted to retain their West Indian festival tradition. The festival is now an annual celebration of Caribbean culture in Toronto, a city with West Indian immigration dating back to 1796. From steel pan to soca and calypso, the music of Caribana is a true representation of the spirit of the West Indies. This year, Toronto’s Caribana celebrates its 50th anniversary, and 2 million people are expected to attend.
(Read: Caribana Survival Guide)
Caribana Dates & Location
Caribana events kick-off on Friday, July 9th with an opening church service and continue through Sunday, August 6th. Events are spread out across the city, but the main Caribana parade will commence at Exhibition Place and progress down Lakeshore Blvd. Find more location information for Caribana events below.
Caribana events range from daytime pool parties to dancehall nightclubs- each promising a full-on Caribbean experience, from the music to the energy and, of course, the food. The celebrations start on Thursday afternoon and continue into Sunday evening. From foam parties to nightclubs and boat rides, there will be no shortage of fun at Caribana this year. Caribana events take place from Thursday through Sunday and range from $20-$50 admission per event.
If you’re having trouble deciding which events to attend, here’s a rundown of the top Caribana events for 2017:
Thursday – Dayfete on the Roof is a daytime rooftop party with incredible views of the city, live DJs and drinks flowing all day long. It’s the perfect way to kick-off Caribana weekend. This event is from 1 pm – 7 pm at Cube Nightclub.
Friday – Daylit is a Cabana Pool Party hosted by DJs from Hot 97 and Power 105.1 on Friday afternoon from 12 noon – 7 pm for the 19+ crowd.
Saturday – Carnaval in the 6ix is a Soca, Hip Hop and Reggae nightclub event. This year will be hosted by Rich Homie Quan and Kardi B. This event is from 10 pm – 2 am for ages 19+.
Sunday – Sunday Blocko is the one event you can’t miss. It’s a celebrity-filled affair with traditional foods, music and dancing to conclude the weekend’s festivities. This event runs from 12 noon – 7 pm for ages 19+.
If you’re looking to attend multiple events throughout the festival, the weekend passes are your best bet. See the ticket section below for more info.
Caribana passes allow you to select from all Caribana events and choose the three that you’d most like to attend. Tickets for each event may also be purchased individually.
Weekend Value Pass – $45/person
This pass gets you three event tickets from Thursday to Sunday. Select from nightlife events only.
Ultimate Weekend Pass – $60/person
This pass allows you to select three different events from Thursday to Sunday for both day and night parties.
Sunday Blocko Pass – $60/person
This pass gets you three events from Saturday-Sunday, including one The Sunday Blocko hosted by DJ Khaled and Fabolous.
Daylit Pass – $60/person
Get three event tickets- one daytime and two nighttime on Saturday and Sunday only.
Weekend Day and Night Pass – $100
Choose three events (two daytime and three nightlife) from Friday to Sunday.
Costumes are an integral part of the Caribana celebration. You’ll find everyone from parade participants to onlookers decked out in feathers, rhinestones, headdresses and the like. Both men and women dress up. There’s absolutely no reason to show up to Caribana without at least a touch of festive garb.
Caribana Grande Parade
There is no doubt that the Grande Parade is the highlight of the weekend. This lively event is the embodiment of Caribbean culture and a staple in the Caribana celebration. Hundreds of performers dressed in extravagant and eye-catching costumes march to the sounds of steel bands as onlookers gather along the route from Exhibition Place down Lakeshore Blvd.
The Grande Parade takes place on Saturday, August 5th at 10 am. The parade is free unless you’d like entrance to the party at Exhibition Place where Masquerade Bands, better known as Mas Bands, will play until 8 pm.
The goal of Carnival Village is to promote and celebrate Caribbean heritage within the local community. Organizers will host educational activities, workshops, performances and concerts for the week leading up to Caribana weekend. Local organizations and community members come together to create this multidisciplinary program. All events take place in Toronto’s Regent Park.
Getting to Caribana
Car – Don’t do it. Seriously.
Metro – The TTC will get you anywhere you need to be during Caribana weekend. Take advantage of this immaculate public transport system.
Walk – Stay close to the festival and walk over. Or better yet, strut over in your fancy costume.
Where to Stay in Toronto
Toronto will be in full party mode for the entire week leading up to one of the city’s largest festivals. Millions of people come from out of town to join the celebration, which means thousands of fully booked hotel rooms. If you still need a place to stay for Caribana, we’ve put together some great finds.
Accommodation options in Toronto range from $44/night in a 2-bedroom house to $336/night 4-star Noah Suites less than a mile from the parade venue. This luxury, downtown Toronto 2-bedroom goes for $64/night. Or stay close to the festival in The Fairmont Royal York for $272/night.
You have options, but they won’t last long. So grab ‘em while they’re available.