A woman dressed in an elaborate costume is enjoying the carnival

Toronto Caribbean Carnival | Destination Toronto

Tips to enjoy Toronto Caribbean Carnival (Caribana)

A woman dressed in an elaborate costume is enjoying the carnival

Toronto Caribbean Carnival | Destination Toronto

In 1967, Toronto's Caribbean community introduced Canadians to the festive Caribbean culture during Canada's centennial celebrations. This marked the debut of Carnival '67 in Toronto, which has since become an annual attraction in the city. It is now North America's largest multicultural festival, drawing well over a million visitors from all over the world.

Street carnivals are a beloved tradition in the Caribbean Islands, such as Trinidad, where the largest carnival is hosted. These celebrations symbolize freedom from slavery and are filled with passion, excitement and joy. Participants dress up in colourful costumes, dance to lively music and indulge in delicious food.

Today, over 6% of Toronto’s population is of Caribbean descent and this vibrant community continues to deliver the carnival experience to Canada’s largest city with gusto.

The Grand Parade is a marquee event that takes place at Toronto’s Exhibition Place. Here are the best ways to enjoy the Toronto Caribbean Carnival and the parade.

Join the parade and ‘play mas’

Thousands of carnival revellers enjoy masquerading at the carnival’s Grand Parade or ‘playing mas’. When you play mas you are part of a mas band that wears similar costumes. Anyone can play mas. Check out the mas bands participating in this year’s Toronto Carnival. Register to be part of a mas band and browse the types of costumes to purchase.

Tips:

  • The mas band website has additional information, such as where to pick up costumes.
  • If you are interested in seeing the costumes up close, there are opportunities to attend costume showrooms. 
  • Look for fashion shows that feature models with costumes and special events such as boat cruises.

Watch the Grand Parade

Paid seating is available for those who want to sit back and watch mas bands before they hit the parade route along Lakeshore Boulevard. Watching the carnival along the parade route is free. Only registered carnival revellers can dance with the mas band. Spectators can dance in designated areas. This helps move mas band faster to the end of the parade where mas bands will be judged and awarded for the best carnival experience and costume.

Details: Saturday, August 5, 2023, from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Location: Exhibition Place and Lakeshore Boulevard West

Getting to the Grand Parade

Take public transportation to Exhibition Place. The following TTC buses and GO Trains go to Exhibition Place:

  • Dufferin 29, Bathurst 511 (from Bathurst Station), Harbourfront 509 (from Union Station)
  • Take the Lakeshore line to Exhibition GO station

Learn about special GO Transit Services, including weekday group and weekend passes.

Information about additional TTC services

Attend exciting Toronto Caribbean Carnival events

There’s no shortage of entertaining Caribbean events around Toronto before and after the Grand Parade that can be enjoyed by all ages, including:

King and Queen Showcase

Feel the pure energy and enthusiasm as mas band leaders dance and showcase their large and intricate costumes to judges and an audience as they vie to be crowned Queen and King of the carnival.

Details: Thursday, August 3, 2023, from 5:00 p.m. to midnight. Ticket sales start at $45.00
Location: Lamport Stadium, 1155 King Street West, Toronto

Junior King and Queen Show

Cheer on infants to teens competing in the Junior King and Queen show. These talented kids sing, dance and confidently strut across the stage in the Junior King and Queen competition.

Details: Sunday, July 16, 2023, from 2:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Ticket sales start at $10.00
Location: Scarborough Town Centre, 300 Borough Drive, Scarborough
 

Junior Carnival Parade

Marvel at children showcasing their costumes at this family-friendly parade. This will include junior calypso singers, food vendors and arts and crafts. 

Details: July 22, 2023, from 11:00 a.m to 8:00 p.m ; Free
Location: Malvern Community Centre and Neilson Park, 1555 Neilson Road, Scarborough

Pan Alive

Did you know the steel pan is the only acoustic instrument created in the 20th century? Music lovers will enjoy attending steel pan competitions.

Details: August 4, 2023, from 7:00 p.m. until midnight. Ticket sale starts at $35.00
Location: Lamport Stadium, 1155 King Street West

Experience Caribbean cuisine

You will definitely work up an appetite during the festive celebrations. Fortunately Toronto’s diverse culinary scene offers many places to enjoy Caribbean food. Get a taste of the tropics at Caribbean eateries across the Toronto, such as:

Miss Likklemores

This upscale restaurant treats patrons to an assortment of flavours familiar in the Caribbean. If you’re looking for a meal with heat, homemade sauces range from mild to very hot.

Location: 433 King Street West, Toronto

Chubby's Jamaican Kitchen 

Selected in the prestigious MICHELIN Toronto Guide, Chubby’s offers a slice of Caribbean dining. Step into a tropical ambiance that boast delicious menu items such as the marinated jerk chicken, pork or shrimp cooked on the in-house wood-fired grill.

Location: 104 Portland Street, Toronto

Patois

Indulge in an award winning Chinese-Jamaican menu. Patois has a delicious selection of shareable offerings that create a unique dining experience. Weekend brunch is also on the menu for the late risers.

Location: 794 Dundas Street West, Toronto

Rasta Pasta

Located in Kensington Market, Rasta Past has serves favourite Jamaican dishes such as jerk chicken and ackee and codfish, in addition to fusion Italian and Jamaican creations.

Location: 61 Kensington Avenue, Toronto

Kaspace Café          

If you’re looking for plant based Caribbean cuisine, Chef Kevin Allwood has you covered with dishes such as ackee and salted tofu, jerk lentils and seamoss infused soursop. The restaurant in a modern and bright space. There’s also a market next door.

Location: 1183 Queen Street East, Toronto

Celebrate Emancipation Day and learn about Ontario’s Black history  

In 2021, Canada proclaimed August 1 as the official Emancipation Day. Toronto Carnival coincides with this momentous date

Learn more about Emancipation Day and Black history in Ontario at:

Ontario Black History Society provides information about Black history and heritage in Ontario.

Grey and Simcoe Counties are home to unique Black history museums, heritage tours and festivals.

Southwestern Ontario boasts a rich Black heritage with excellent museums and attractions dedicated to honouring the heroes of the Underground Railroad.

Find the perfect place to stay during the Carnival  

Plan a Toronto Caribbean Carnival getaway with one of Toronto’s many accommodation options. Stay close to the action at nearby hotels such as Hotel X, 1 Hotel Toronto or The Drake Hotel.

Several more downtown properties offer accommodation packages during this festive occasion.

Tip: book your accommodations well in advance of the festival!

Last updated: January 22, 2024

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