Caribbean Carnival fun about to hit high gear
It's time to jump up and wave your flag in the air at the exuberant party that is the Scotiabank Toronto Caribbean Carnival.
The massive event, which began during Canada's centennial year of 1967, officially launched earlier this month. But some of the biggest events are coming up this week.
On Wednesday, Harbourfront hosts the Calypso Stars Showcase at the West Jet stage. This free event, which starts at 7:30 p.m., features performances from the Calypso competitors of this past weekend, according to carnival spokesperson Stephen Weir.
Calypso is a form of musical expression that Weir described as uniquely Caribbean. The singers perform songs that are political but usually humorous commentaries on issues of the day.
Performer Structure (Bryan Thornhill) won the title of calypso monarch on Saturday for a poignant song about sex killer Russell Williams, beating out Macomere FeFe (Eulith Tara Woods, last year's monarch) and Panman Pat (McNeil).
At North York Civic Centre on Thursday, July 28 at 8 a.m., the carnival will give some Caribbean flavour to a swearing-in ceremony for new Canadian citizens.
Weir said the carnival, first known as Caribana, has its roots in the desire of new Caribbean-Canadians to give something back to their new country.
"We're going in to the swearing-in ceremony to encourage new Canadians to look to what we've done," he told ctvtoronto.ca.
Thursday evening features one of the carnival's showcase events -- the crowning of the king and queen following a dance-off.
Weir said this event is sold out every year and starts after sundown so the spotlights can reveal every glittering detail and colour of the often massive costumes.
"The only thing that limits the size of the costume is the strength of the person inside," he said, adding that some can approach 10 metres in height.
"They can be giant peacocks. They can be orca whales. They can be pirates. There's no end."
The event takes place at Lamport stadium. VIP seating costs $100. Sitting in the stands will set you back $30 in advance or $38 at the gate.
On Friday, July 29 at 7 p.m., Lamport will come alive with the sound of steel pan drums during the Pan Alive event.
"It's loud!" Weir laughed. "It's the only time in Canada that you'll see this many bands performing."
You'll everything from simple tunes and pop standards to symphonic music. Teams from Ontario, Alberta and Quebec will be competing, Weir said.
The event costs $25 in advance or $30 at the gate.
If you have any energy left after the preceding events, let alone the late-night parties, Saturday will bring the Grand Parade, a slow-moving but high-energy, all-day spectacle over a 3.5-kilometre-long route westbound from Exhibition Place along Lake Shore Boulevard.
The parade starts at 10 a.m. inside Exhibition Place. VIP seating there will cost $50, while regular seats are $15 -- a 50 per cent reduction from the previous year.
However, you can watch the parade for free along Lake Shore, starting west of where Remembrance Drive approaches the roadway.
Weir said the parade route is longer than previous years and offers more grandstand seating.
"Of course, it's free (outside the seating area) and we encourage people to line the parade route."
And if you see the newly crowned king and queen pass by, tip your hat, he said.