Community media get first look at 2023 Toronto Caribbean Carnival plans

This year’s theme is ‘Diversity & Culture Live Here’

Kerri (left) and Kyra

An open invitation has been extended to Canadians, as well as visitors to the country, to participate in the 2023 Toronto Caribbean Carnival (TCC).

Participation in the festival, which would be formally launched in July, is encouraged for people of “all backgrounds, of all colour and all orientations’’, said lawyer Jennifer Hirlehey, chair of the festival organizing team.

The carnival’s aim is to “express joy’’, Hirlehey told an audience Wednesday at TCC’s media launch at the Ontario Science Centre.

The launch, hosted by CTV news anchor Nathan Downer and CTV reporter Jessica Smith, included modelling of costumes; calypso and steelpan music performances; and the introduction of some festival sponsors and TCC officials including CEO Mischka Crichton and general manager Adrian Charles; as well as this year’s “Face of the Festival’’, Keyanna Bell.

Hirlehey, in her remarks, said the cost of producing the carnival had increased “significantly’’, and appealed for greater corporate and public sector financial support from all levels of government. “And in return, you get the best party in the world’’, she said.

Jennifer Michelle Hirlehey
Henry “King Cosmos” Gomez

The 2022 carnival is reported to have attracted about 1.76 million attendees for the final weekend of festivities, and injected an estimated $467.6 million into Ontario’s economy.

The theme of Toronto Caribbean Carnival 2023 is, “Diversity & Culture Live Here’’.

The July 1 official launch, at Nathan Phillips Square, will be in two parts, general manager Charles said. There will be a morning session beginning at 11; and an afternoon segment, from 4 pm to 8 pm.

“Our job here at the Toronto Caribbean Carnival is to spread joy, to promote diversity and to highlight our community’s talents,’’ said Hirlehey. “We encourage you to join us and to participate in this carnival. Because for us, it is not about colour; it’s about culture.’’

Porter takes flight with carnival

Hirlehey’s sentiments were echoed by CEO Crichton. “The Toronto Carnival is for all people,’’ she said.

Beyond the carnival, TCC has other broader objectives, Hirlehey said.

“One of the areas we are continuing to build on is educating entrepreneurs on how to run their businesses, efficiently and effectively, through our Building Black Entrepreneurs Program,” she explained. “We are also going into elementary and high schools and educating young people about the history, artistry and craftsmanship of costume-making.”

Among other scheduled Toronto Caribbean Carnival events for 2023 are:

  • Junior King and Queen Showcase: Sunday July 16th at Scarborough Town Centre
  • Junior Carnival Parade: Saturday July 22nd at Malvern Community Centre
  • OCPA Calypso Showcase: Sunday July 20 at Latvian Culture Centre
  • King and Queen Showcase: Thursday August 3rd at Lamport Stadium
  • Pan Alive Panorama: Friday August 4th at Lamport Stadium
  • The Grand Parade: Saturday August 5th along Lakeshore Blvd.
  • Pan in de Park: Monday August 6th at Neilson Park
  • TCC International Food Festival: Monday August 6th at Neilson Park

 Other key events to watch out for: 

  • Metrolinx will unveil a Toronto Caribbean Carnival themed double decker GO Bus as part of its role as the Official Transportation Partner
  • Through the multi-year partnership with Toronto FC, a special day of mentorship will be held at MLSE Launchpad for students in the Young Learners Program, which is supported by the Festival Management Committee, Toronto District School Board and Toronto FC
  • TFC Caribbean Culture Night on July 8, 2023 to highlight the sounds, cuisine, revelry and arts of the Caribbean community; Junior Masqueraders will parade across the field at halftime
  • Toronto Caribbean Carnival teams up with the Blue Jays on Friday July 28th for pregame and interactive activities throughout the game.