Toronto Caribana, or the Caribbean Carnival, is already underway for 2015. However, the main event, the Caribana parade, will take place on Saturday August 1st. It’s one of the largest annual summer Toronto events on the entertainment and culture calendar.
Yes, you could pay for a seat or a VIP view of the Mas bands inside the CNE grounds. But I would rather get a free view of the parade, or as much of it as escapes the CNE.
There’s another free event to wrap up the Caribbean Carnival in Toronto; but first, the parade.
The 2015 Toronto Caribana Grand Parade
The Caribana parade starts inside the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) grounds. That’s where the Mas bands are judged for their costumes and style; it’s not clear whether these bands will parade very far along Lake Shore Blvd or not.
However, the Caribbean Carnival parade also features cultural and guest (or “sponsored”) bands as well as steel pan bands.
All the bands exit the CNE grounds on Newfoundland Drive, which is just west of Strachan. They head west along Lake Shore Blvd W. The cultural, guest and steel pan bands continue west to Budapest Park, just west of the Palais Royale or Roncesvalles Ave.
However, the Mas bands go back into the CNE on British Columbia Drive, at the west end of the CNE grounds. It’s not clear whether they ever exit the CNE again.
To simply hear the steel pan bands and see the other floats, I’d head along the Martin Goodman Trail to any likely spot between, say, the Boulevard Club or Jameson Ave. and the CNE grounds. It’s never very far from Lake Shore Blvd W. along that stretch, and it should be easy enough to find a place to watch the parade.
To ensure seeing the Mas bands, pick a spot on Lake Shore Blvd directly opposite the CNE and due north of Ontario Place and it’s west channel. The Martin Goodman Trail will probably be pretty busy with onlookers, so don’t expect to make it a bicycle training event.
When is the Toronto Caribana parade? Sat. Aug. 1. They plan to start the parade inside the CNE grounds at 9:45am. If you plan for “island time” on Lake Shore Blvd, you will probably be right, but you might miss something.
Remember: Wear a hat and sunscreen; bring a bottle of water; and expect to buy some more water through the day. The phrase “hot, hot, hot” is not just a catchy song lyric!
Carnival Island for Caribana via the Toronto Island Ferry Service
Olympic Island, one of the Toronto Islands, hosts “Carnival Island” on Sunday Aug. 2nd, 2015. You must buy tickets for this event, although you could probably hear the music from one of the other islands while having a picnic.
You will definitely need to pay for transportation to the islands. The Toronto Island Ferry service has just launched online ticket sales, which may reduce your time waiting at the ferry dock (at Queen’s Quay and Bay Street). You buy the ticket online, and must print it yourself and bring that paper to the ferry dock. See the official Toronto Islands Ferries Schedules and Fees page for details.
I had ranted about the ferry schedule a few years ago; has it improved?
The Free Event that Wraps Up the Caribbean Carnival in Toronto
Finally, Toronto Caribana wraps up with an interfaith service at St. James Anglican Church on Sunday, Aug. 9 at 4pm. Head for 65 Church Street, just north of King St. It’s only about a block east from Yonge St.
Online References for the Caribbean Carnival in Toronto
Learn more about the 2015 Carnival Island (Caribana on Olympic Island) event.
This page explains the closing service for Caribana Toronto at St. James Cathedral.
Let me note that I’m surprised that the terms “Caribana” and “Caribbean Carnival” are both in use. Had there not been a problem because the current organizers did not have permission to use one of those phrases? I’m just reporting what is available online, and am not taking sides. I assume that they’ve already straightened out “who sells tickets” and “who gets the revenues”.
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Thanks for reading about two free Caribana 2015 events in Toronto.