Toronto's Caribana festival will reach a milestone in 2007, marking 40 years as one of the as the largest celebration of Caribbean culture in North America.

Organizers promise that this year will be a major event.

"For our 40th anniversary we will be bigger and better than ever," Joe Halstead, president of the Festival Management Committee said.

Each year the festival attracts more than a million participants, including hundreds of thousands of tourists, to the activities which culminate in a colourful parade of costumes, floats and music along the lake shore.

Organizers will get help achieving their goals from a record amount of corporate sponsorship.

"We're very excited that at this time in our development in January, we've already signed six major Canadian corporations to be partners with us and that makes us very, very pleased," Halstead said.

The official television sponsor is CTV, which will provide news coverage and more.

"You'll be able to keep up with everything that's going on with Caribana just by watching CTV News," Sandy Fraser with CTV's promotional department said.

"But also, we're going to be behind it and when you go to the events you're going to see our logos (and) our people there."

Caribana organizers have raised $100,000 in corporate sponsorship so far this year. That is in addition to $800,000 worth of support from the federal, provincial and municipal levels of government.

Other corporate sponsors include:

  • Roots Canada;
  • The Toronto Sun; and
  • Heineken

"It's an incredible event for the city of Toronto," Geoff Ross of Molson said.

"It generates thousands of tourists from around the world and Heineken is a perfect beer for the fit, which has global appeal and we think it's a good fit for our brand."

The high levels of corporate sponsorship are in contrast to previous years when the festival has faced financial struggles.

The Caribbean Cultural Committee (CCC) organized the festival for 38 years. But accusations of fiscal mismanagement leveled by city hall forced a change in how Caribana is planned in 2006.

The City of Toronto stepped in and replaced the CCC with the Festival Management Committee.

Organizers also announced a major change to the cultural festival that occurs after the parade. Instead of happening at Olympic Island, the two-day event will be held at the Molson Amphitheatre at Ontario Place.