Caribana Carnival Insider's Guidel
Caribana Carnival Insider's Guide
Mayor_David_Miller-circle.jpg ChineseNewYear-wCaribana.jpg  
Parade Tips
Caribana Lingo
Why is this a 3-day weekend



Toronto's Caribana takes its artform from Caribbean Carnival which is the National Festival of One Love throughout much of the Caribbean

 Do's &  Don'ts

1. Do Dress cool & comfortably. If you want to watch the parading bands consider arriving early, before time 10 am start time, with your own chair and other goodies. 

2. Remember the Carnival Route is 3.6 km long and there are many activities olong Lakeshore Therefore comfortable footwear is wise, particularly if you end up walking halfway home. Put the stiletto heels in your pack if you must be prepared for everything.

3. Do plan your route using public transit. Here's where to start Carnival transit.  Don't forget the exit strategy, this is not Iraq.

4. DO arrange a suitable meeting place with friends in case you get split up during the day. Particularly if you don't both have cell phones. Even then cell phones become less reliable the larger the crowd (noise and network overload) so pick your spot and time.

5. Essential Carnival equipment includes:

  • Sunscreen & lip balm: Apply 30 minutes before sun exposure and again at the parade for the best protection.
  • Sunglasses: UV rays are harmful to your eyes as well. Be sure to wear sunglasses with UV protection.
  • A hat: A wide-brimmed hat will keep you cool and protect sun-sensitive spots on your head and face.
  • DO drink plenty of water and bringing a few bottles or a tall one is a good ting.Drink plenty of fluids to stay well-hydrated to fight off heat exhaustion and stay cool.
  • DO bring cash money to buy food and other goodies and avoid the crush at ATMs

6. Bring your appetite: Leave room to try vendors' authentic dishes from the islands.

7. Remember that Carnival floats are large lorries, do not run across their paths and do not get too close to them.

8. Done the parade, and you want more. Well next weekend is the nearby Hamilton Carnival parade. If you want to polish your Carnaval resume there is a world class Caribbean Carnival circuit coming up over the next 30 days which features the two biggest festivals in Europe, Rotterdam Carnival and Notting Hill Carnival as well as arguably the largest parade in North America, Brooklyn Carnival. You will find many of the same performing headliners there with you.

Why Caribana is the
 weekend prior to the First Monday in August
The seventh month of July, is the centerpiece of the former seven Cities cultural calendar. The hot summer month needs August to cool down  At the center is the first Monday in August named after the founder of Toronto Lord Simcoe which also marks the conclusion of the Toronto Carnival or Caribana celebration. 
 John Graves Simcoe

John Graves Simcoe, the first lieutenant governor of Upper Canada (Ontario) is credited with trying to end slavery although it would not come for another 40 years when The Slavery Abolition Act was passed by the British Parliament on August 24, 1833.
August 1st is
Emancipation Day in Afro-Canadian communities. The holiday is also celebrated  in British colonies in the Caribbean and Guyana.

1793 Anti Slavery Act

Simcoe’s Anti-Slavery Act of 1793, as popularly believed, did not free slaves in Upper Canada; rather it provided for the gradual abolition of slavery – for freedom for future generations.  It began as a typical compromise.  Simcoe favoured complete and immediate abolition and considered issuing a proclamation to that effect at the beginning of his administration.   He is quoted as promising before he arrived in Upper Canada "not to give assent to any law that discriminates by dishonest policy between the natives of Africa, America or Europe".   This is considered naive.   The Upper Canada he was coming to was a Loyalist establishment, populated by recent immigrants who were naturally jealous of their property rights as British citizens, having forfeited practically everything in their defence of the Crown in the late Revolutionary War.   They were in no rush to deprive themselves of valuable property which they regarded as essential to their economic viability in the colony.

Slavery and Freedom in Niagara, Michael Power & Nancy Butler p9-10 [ more]

Caribana Lingo
Bacchanal - commotion, a wild party, a fight between neighbours, family or friends. Can be traced back to the Roman saturnalia

Calypso - a style of music that originated in Trinidad and Tobago. Calypso Songs, tales and popular critical comment, called calypso, are also essential ingredients of carnival.The songs often tell a story  to comment on life, love, politics and society. Calypso can also be called  Kaiso.

CANBOULAY- From the French canne brulee. Freed slaves in Trinidad celebrated Emancipation with ceremonial torchlight processions, drumming, and costumes that commemorated times of fire in the canefields. Originally celebrated on August 1, Canboulay eventually became incorporated into Carnival time in the spring.

Fête - a party, usually the parties around Carnival time are referred to as fêtes. The more crowded the fete, the better.  Music and dancing are essential elements.

Jouvert,  Jab Jab & JAB MOLASSIE:
Painted devil: a traditional Trinidad Carnival costume. ("Jab" is from the French diable.) Another well-known devil costume is the, who resembles a jester, but carries a whip.
More about characters

Jump Up - Dancing along with the band and becoming part of the parade.

King and Queen of Caribana - The costumes judged as the most outstanding at the King and Queen Show. These are usually gigantic affairs which requires crews to assemble.

Lime/Liming - a party or any get-together/to hang out with friends and acquaintances, indulging in “ol’ talk”

Mas' (Masquerade) Band - Each theme group is a band. Each band includes a live musical group, a float, masqueraders in costumes and people jumping up. The costumes are built and displayed for your selection in a Mas' Camps. This masquerade is a form of visual and musical story telling.

Soca - a type of music that originated in Trinidad and Tobago from calypso music. The lyrics of the songs usually have to do with partying, having fun and carnival time.

Steel Pan - Trinidad and Tobago, the much hailed motherland of Caribbean Carnival is most proud of having given the 20th century its only new acoustic musical instrument. The steel pan, is a percussion instrument originally made from discarded oil drums. The drums are cut to different depths to make the pan. The flat top is hammered in and divided into sections. Once tempered the pan responds with a wide range of notes when struck with the rubber knobbed short stick. The story of the steel pan is still being written for its sweet notes signal that Pan has entered the room. 

T&T or TnT - Short form of Trinidad and Tobago, where Carnival originates. Tree-nee the Trini pronunciation  anything or anyone Trinidadian (Trini)

Wine/Whining - To rotate the waist and hips while dancing. Winin' can be construed to be sexually suggestive dance but it easily passes the test for safe sex, always a concern during Carnival time.

Lot's more at