The 43rd annual Caribana festival kicked off Thursday at Yonge-Dundas Square. The Scotiabank Caribana runs to Aug. 2.
The largest festival and parade of its kind in North America is expected to draw 1.2 million visitors to the city, according to organizers.
The festival’s signature event, the Scotiabank Caribana Parade, will be held Saturday, July 31, at Exhibition Place and Lake Shore Boulevard, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The event is free, but tickets for seating inside Exhibition grounds can be purchased for $20 at www.caribanafestival.com.
Christina McCollin hasn’t missed a Caribana since she moved to Toronto from Trinidad in 1972.
For her, the annual festival is a chance to go home without ever leaving the city.
“I love it — all of it. Everything from home is here.”
McCollin “jumps up” with the Toronto Reveller’s — the band hosted by NBA centre and Toronto native Jamaal Magloire.
On Thursday she stood at the front of the Yonge-Dundas Square stage with her 11-year-old granddaughter for the official launch of this year’s Scotiabank Caribana.
The largest festival and parade of its kind in North America is expected to draw 1.2 million visitors to the city.
“With this type of weather, you can really pretend you’re on the islands,” said Nigel Joseph, head of Separate Tables caterers, who served up curried goat dinners and chicken rotis to the hungry masses.
“Caribana’s about beautiful women, delicious food, great music. It’s what Toronto needs right now.”
Scarborough-Guildwood MPP Margaret Best, who was born in Jamaica, described the first Caribana parade — a much smaller affair in 1967 — as “a gift to the people of Canada on its centennial.”