Caribana 2014: Where to go, what to see
If you’re trying to get out to enjoy Caribana weekend, it’s easy to be overwhelmed. You’ll have questions about the parties that are happening and the difference between what’s hot and traditionally dry in the city. If it’s about variety, Toronto certainly isn’t lacking with its assortment of activities that cover all the bases from steel pans, costume fashion shows, fetes and the main attraction, the Grand Parade, with all its vibrant colours, feathers, music and food. But first, here’s a little background information about the celebration.
Much to the ire of some residents here in Canada, the popular festival took on a name change, from its original title Caribana to the longer: Scotiabank Caribbean Carnival. This is due to the fact that the founders who originally trademarked the name no longer run the festival. Despite the confusion, the reality is that you’ll still hear people refer to it as its original moniker, because it’s hard to get used to calling it something new after years of knowing it as Caribana. With that section of history out of the way, here’s a list of what you must take in this weekend.
The Grand Parade // Well that’s kind of a given. No visitor would come all the way to Toronto without attending the reason for the whole thing in the first place. At the parade you’ll enjoy all the customary sights and sounds that come with it: dancing, whining up, music, floats and costumes, along with West Indian inspired music from competing Mas Bands. The parade runs for approximately eight hours starting at Exhibition Place & Lakeshore Boulevard – 15 Saskatchewan Road on Saturday, August 2, from 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. Entrance to the parade costs $20 – $25.
JAMBANA – One World Festival // Not everything Caribana related happens in the downtown core. Head over to the Markham Fair Grounds, northeast of the city and enjoy at least one out of two days of this amazing festival. With everyone from The Mighty Sparrow and Marcia Griffiths on day one (August 3) to Cocoa Tea and Blakk Rasta on day two (August 4) this festival has something for everyone, including a domino village and anti-bullying village. Festival runs 1 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. each day.
Beyond De Lime // If you haven’t grown tired from palancing and whining up yourself at the parade itself, this 24 hour Caribana outdoor party and concert is for you. The food festival plus concert aims to go down on the Lakeshore at Ontario Place, 995 Lakeshore Boulevard West, Sunday, August 3, starting at 12 p.m.
The Main Event: HD Edition // Half of the fun during Caribana comes from the night life and the parties that come with it and The Main Event will definitely be one of the biggest of them all. The party will feature performances from major soca artists: Machel Montano & the HD Family, Fay Ann Lyons, Bunji Garlin, Patrice Roberts, Kerwin Du Bois, Famer Nappy and many others. The celebration will be held at The International Centre, 6900 Airport Road in Mississauga on Saturday August 2. Doors open at 9 p.m. Tickets cost between $70 – $115.
OVO Fest // What kind of list would this be if OVO Fest wasn’t given a mention? It’s sort of a rite of passage to go to something involving Drake when in Toronto. The fifth annual OVO Fest will be featuring the Atlanta, Georgia born and bred legends, OutKast, who will be its headliners. Drake usually keeps everything about guest performances under wraps, but it’s sure to have some great announcements if last year was any indication. If you’ve been fortunate enough to acquire tickets to the music spectacle, be there Sunday, August 3 and Monday, August 4 at the Molson Canadian Amphitheatre at 909 Lake Shore Boulevard West, located on the grounds of Ontario Place.
IRIE Fest // The TD Irie Music Festival returns with another jam-packed four days of culture and music at Nathan Phillips Square. Running since Friday evening when Alison Hinds brought down the square, Saturday features Richie Spice, Sunday Etana the Strong One and Monday a special Marley tribute. And from 3 to 5 p.m. on Saturday, be sure to stop by and check out the IRIE New Artist Showcase, show some love to those on the come up. The festival runs daily from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m.
The Sunday Blocko DJ Khaled // It may be a period that favours West Indian vibes, but this particular party makes no effort to exclude any genre through its focus on providing different sorts in every room. The Guvernment complex will be opened and undone this Caribana Sunday. A single ticket offers access to all four areas within the complex: The Guvernment Main Room, Chroma, Surface and Skybar. The addition of dining on some of the best Caribbean cuisines is of course a plus. Enjoy sounds from former 106 & Park DJ, DJ L and Hot 97’s DJ C Lo. As far as music is concerned, expect equal parts hip hop, soca, R&B and reggae. Doors open at Sunday August 3, from 2:30 p.m. and close at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $20 – $65.
Soca x Hip Hop @ Atlantis // It’s a given that super high profile events at Caribana can sometimes end up getting outrageously pricey especially if one is on a budget (see OVO). If you’re the type of attendee that wants to save, but not be excluded from a bash, the Soca x Hip Hop is likely up your alley. Expect to enjoy the music catered to your tastes, whether soca, reggae, hip-hop or R&B, and do it all right across from Toronto’s skyline. Atlantis features four rooms with live DJs in each. Tickets range from $30 – $55 at the Atlantis on 955 Lakeshore Boulevard West on Saturday, August 2.
Good Music: Love and Hip Hop Edition // If you can describe yourself as grown and mature with equal parts sexy, this is a definite option. Join Love and Hip Hop’s Tahiry Jose and former DJ on 106 & Park, DJ L at ACE Nightclub. The venue will be playing hip-hop, soca, reggae and R&B all night long. It’s about being sleek and clean, so no baggy clothing, sneakers or Timbs at this sophisticated and sensual event. Look out for it at the ACE Nightclub, 425 Adelaide St. W. on Sunday, August 3. Prices for this event range from $25 – $55.
Soca Sensation // Every party list has to include an all-white dress event, it’s the unwritten rule of party lists. The strict dress code is self-explanatory. Don’t show up wearing pink, orange, green or whatever it is other than the colour white. This party has two different rooms; soca and reggae in one and hip-hop and R&B in the other. Each guest will receive two complementary drink tickets. Doors open at 10 p.m. August 3, with the party going on until 3 a.m. at Fiction Club, 180 Pearl Street. Tickets cost $25 – $50.
REHAB: The Bad Boy Caribana After Party // Bad Boy Entertainment’s Quincy will be accompanied with Kakey, alongside his celebrity friends, for a Caribana after party if you’re not too tired from previous festivities. You’ll enjoy three floors of reggae, soca, hip-hop and R&B at Estate Nightclub. Tickets cost $40 – $60. Doors open at 10 p.m. Saturday, August 2, at 224 Richmond St. W.
As always, remember to do some stretches before hitting the parade streets and for the love of all that is good, wear comfortable shoes.
Words by. Jelicia Saulter + Archival Photos by. Urbanology Magazine