North America’s biggest street party is back, with music, mas and more! Here are the top festival-weekend events of Toronto Caribbean Carnival 2023.
We’re #OnDeRoadAgain as Toronto Caribbean Carnival (July 11–August 7, 2023) returns for its 56th year. Locals and visitors alike flock to the annual celebration of freedom and culture, which is also known as Caribana, its original name.
While events fill the month of July into August, the big festival weekend takes place August 3–7, when over a million participants and spectators are expected to attend the historic Grand Parade.
Looking to plan your own Caribbean getaway in Toronto? Here’s how to make the most of the four-day festival weekend’s music, dance, costumes and celebration.
Lighting of the CN Tower
See the CN Tower illuminated in red, yellow and green, in a nighttime celebration of freedom and diversity. This official kickoff to the City of Toronto’s Caribbean Carnival celebration is one the whole family will be excited to see.
Where: CN Tower, in the Entertainment District
King & Queen Showcase
The King & Queen Showcase (August 3, 2023) is a vibrant display of creativity and pageantry. This event features over 50 elaborate and large costumes centered around different themes. Competitors are judged on the intricate details of their costumes and by how well they reference their carnival Mas Band’s theme. The King and Queen are crowned towards the end of the night, which will be filled with live soca and calypso music, cultural performances and food.
Where: Lamport Stadium in the Liberty Village neighbourhood
Guest DJs and musical performers take centre stage at DayLit (August 4, 2023), a can’t-miss daytime pool party. Previous musical artists have included French Montana, DJ Khaled and more. While this year’s venue has yet to be confirmed, last year’s event was held at Cabana, known for its “all-Canadian-by-the-lakeside wonderland” vibe. Beat the crowds by booking early since this event always sells out.
Black and Gold
This glamorous nautical party (dress code: black or gold!) sets sail on Lake Ontario (August 4, 2023), filling the night with amazing music aboard the Empress of Canada ship. Take in the downtown skyline as you catch breezy lake breezes and celebrate into the night.
Where: 11 Polson Street (boarding location)
Pan Alive Panorama
The Ontario Steel Pan Association’s (OSA) Pan Alive (August 4, 2023) promises a vibrant evening of live steel pan renditions, sounds, tone and rhythm. This one-night showcase features Toronto’s professional steel pan community, which works to preserve and promote this dynamic cultural and musical art form.
In a typical showcase, steel bands will perform two songs each—including a “bomb tune.” This non-competitive event is all about shining a light on the creativity of the arrangers in a celebratory environment.
Where: Lamport Stadium in Liberty Village
The Grand Parade
North America’s largest carnival returns in 2023 with an all-new, performance-filled Grand Parade Central (August 5, 2023) hosted at Exhibition Place and Hotel X Toronto, near the parade staging grounds.
The Grande Parade itself draws a crowd of 1 million people from all over the world, who line Lake Shore Boulevard West to watch the carnival’s main event with its 10,000+ masqueraders, live steel pan performers, floats and more. Revellers can fuel up for hours of spectacle and celebration by digging into delicious Caribbean food and drinks along the route.
Where: Lake Shore Boulevard West and Exhibition Place
Carnivále Music Festival
Hosted by Rick Ross, the Carnivále Music Festival (August 5) promises to be one of the weekend’s biggest events with top hip hop, R&B, reggae and soca acts. Headline performers include Polo G, Lola Brooke, Jadakiss, DJ Envy, DJ C Lo, with more to be announced. This outdoor concert also includes 15+ interactive art experiences to discover.
Where: Markham Meadows
Get set for the hottest block party of carnival weekend—Sunday Blocko (August 6, 2023). Festival Sunday’s only daytime event, this breezy outdoor party is the perfect afternoon escape, with authentic Caribbean cuisine, music and possible star sightings. Previously featured performers have included R&B singer Mario, rapper Fabolous and DJ Khaled.
A sleek, all-white dress code event, Soca Sensation (August 6, 2023), features the best of soca and reggae at one of Caribana’s most stylish dance parties. Didn’t plan for the dress code? Hit our top shopping districts and malls for the perfect all-white party outfit.
Hot 97/ BET Allstar Celebrity Party
The 22nd Annual Hot 97/BET AllStar Celebrity Party (August 6, 2023) returns with over 20 of North America’s hottest hip hop, R&B, soca, calypso and reggae artists and DJs. This iconic collab is a huge success every year, and rumour has it that surprise big-name acts will be performing. Past guests at the carnival’s biggest indoor-outdoor event have included J.Cole, Meek Mill, Roy Woods and more, so it’s worth the commute out west.
Where: Rogue Nightclub in Mississauga