The Toronto Caribbean Carnival officially kicked off the 2021 Festival Season with two back-to-back events held on June 15th, 2021. The virtual launch included a media press conference, followed by an Instagram Live Event hosted by news journalist Brandon Gonez, along with a grand prize giveaway to win a 5-night stay for two at Stonefield Villa Resort in Saint Lucia. Premier Doug Ford, Mayor John Tory, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, Deputy Mayor Michael Thompson, and soca recording artist Richardo Drue were in attendance.
The 2021 Festival Lineup of events during the live event, will include two new programs: “Carnival Eats Passport Program, and a “Carnival Food Festival.” The whole month of programming will begin on July 1st, concluding on Emancipation Day, Sunday, August 1st, 2021.
This year the Carnival celebrates its 54th anniversary since its inception in 1967. The Festival Management Committee, producers of the Toronto Caribbean Carnival, have reimagined the carnival experience to showcase Caribbean artists, support the economic recovery of local Caribbean businesses, educating on the history of Emancipation, and celebrate Freedom and Diversity.
With the Grand Parade canceled for the second year in a row amid the Covid-19 pandemic, a curated program will feature a King & Queen Showcase, Junior Carnival, and Pan Alive.
During the live broadcast soca artist, Richardo Drue crowned Lateisha Williams as the “2021 Face of the Festival” and Celena Seusahai as the “2022 Face of the Festival”. Both women will play a vital role in promoting the carnival and tackling challenging issues on women’s rights, body positivity, and discrimination.
Festival-goers were encouraged to support local businesses through participation in the “Carnival Eats Passport Program” from July 2nd to July 31st. Participants can dine around the city to experience different Caribbean restaurants highlighted in the program by registering for a digital passport to gain rewards and prizes weekly. Visit www.torontocarnival/carnivaleats for more info.
The 1st annual “Carnival Food Festival” will run on July 31st and August 1st, with various Caribbean food and live entertainment. Check www.torontocarnival.ca in the coming weeks.
Premier Doug Ford Response said he was “absolutely 100% there will be a festival a grand parade in 2022”, while Mayor John Tory added that Tornto produces three globally recognized festivals – Toronto International Film Festival, Pride and of course the Toronto Caribbean Carnival. These festivals are critical to the economic health of Toronto.
“My personal favourite events would be the King and Queen Show on Thursday and Pan Alive on the Friday and of course the grand parade on the Saturday. I think people will be surprised to see that the FMC has put all these elements into a virtual package that they could really enjoy.”
Michael Thompson deputy mayor of Toronto was pleased that Emancipation Day is being officially recognized in Canada for the first time this year, “and it cannot come too soon. Emancipation Day is about education and speaks to people feeling unshackled.” While some see nothing but sexuality, “the costumes represent freedom and it also celebrates where we came from.”
The face of the festival for 2021 is Leticia Williams, while the face for 2022 will be Selena Seusahai.