BY: LEANNE BENN
As Soca artist Alison Hinds would say, ‘get ready to wine’ Toronto. This year the city will be embracing Toronto’s 50th carnival and 2017 gives us a lot to celebrate, with Canada celebrating 150 years.
What better way to party than by ‘chipping down de road in de hot summer sunshine’ by playing Mas in one of Toronto’s longest-running cultural events. The Toronto Caribbean Carnival has rebranded itself with a new headliner sponsor; Peeks Social. The official name for the festival is now Peeks Toronto Caribbean Carnival 2017.
Executive Vice- President of Peeks Social, Nazreen Ali, expressed her excitement and continued support for one of Toronto’s largest cultural festivals. Peeks is all about sharing experiences and live streams of events all around the world, similar to the Toronto Caribbean Carnival and the diversity and culture of the various people across the Caribbean coming together in one city to celebrate.
One of the many partners’ of the Toronto Caribbean Carnival, The Ontario Science Centre has sponsored the Innovation in Mas award for the seventh consecutive year. This award displays the science behind some of the elaborate and beautiful costumes that different bands showcase on the day of the grand parade.
Dr. Maurice Bitran, CEO and Chief Science Officer at the Ontario Science Centre remarked, “Science is everywhere. The innovation and engineering that goes into the Caribbean carnival costumes is astounding. It is a true intersection of art and science.” Many band designers, such as Whitfield Balasco, who has been present since the start of the Toronto Caribbean Carnival, have a chance this year to showcase some of their hard work and colorful themes in the streets of Toronto. Some bands to look out for include, Carnival Nationz, Louis Saldenah, Toronto Revellers, Venom Carnival, SunLime Canada, Fantazia Carnival and Tribal Carnival among others.
There are some key changes taking place in this year’s carnival celebration. Along with the change of the major sponsor, this festival is the last remaining centennial project and because of this, new events are being added. There is now a Junior Carnival King and Queen showcase for the younger carnival participants to display their elaborate costumes, and this event will be held on July 16 at Woodbine Centre, ahead of the regular Junior Carnival Parade held on July 22 in Scarborough.
Another new event will be a special lighting ceremony at the CN Tower on August 1st paying homage to the roots of Carnival in various island countries, which relates to the emancipation of enslaved Africans in North America and the Caribbean. The colors displayed on the CN tower will embody the spirit of carnival, which is the symbolic representation of freedom and celebration. The grand parade will be held this year on August 5th and this is the main highlight of carnival season in Toronto. The parade route will be reversed along the Lakeshore in order to combat stormers, as people should respect the Mas’ costumed bands and revelers. This year, the Toronto Caribbean Carnival welcomes back Grace Foods as one of their sponsors, ensuring delicious Caribbean meals along the way.
The Toronto Caribbean Carnival stretches for approximately four weeks with activities starting on July 7 extending to the day after the grand parade on August 6th where there will be an event called ‘We Jamming Still’ featuring carnival music and performances to wrap up the carnival excitement. This event will be held tentatively at Centre Island.
The City of Toronto will also expect an influx of tourists from the United States as well as various parts of the Caribbean. The Honorable Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport, Eleanor McMahon, was a key speaker at the media launch for the Caribbean Festival on June 1st at the Ontario Science Centre, and she remarked that the City of Toronto and all caucuses are grateful for the culture and influence of the Caribbean Carnival over the years. The festival not only encourages the growth of the economy but it also showcases a positive vibe for the community and soul.
Be sure to stay tuned to all the wonderful and exciting Carnival updates and activates and look out for the Face of the Festival 2017, Ms. Rhianna Campbell and be sure to check out live coverage of the grand parade with Patricia Jaggernauth on CP24 Toronto’s Breaking News. For information on the Peeks Toronto Caribbean Carnival and to plan your activities, check out torontocaribbeancarnival.com.