I type this wrapped up in my duvet with the heater on. Summer feels soooo far away. A little over a month ago I’d just returned from 10 days in Toronto for Caribana. Although not my first time in the six, this was my first trip where I was legally able to drink and fully enjoy (fyi you need to be 19 to drink in Canada).
This was my first time playing mas and we jumped with Tribal in the section Through the Looking Glass. Our costumes did not disappoint! Toronto’s carnival differs from Notting Hill in a few ways:
- There are barriers stopping the general public from mixing with those playing mas. It kind of gave the carnival a parade like feel but I’ve had a few negative experiences at Notting Hill where those who didn’t pay to jump got in the way of those who did, so I’m on the fence about this one.
- Its a dryyyy carnvial. By that I mean zero liquor. Toronto requires you to have licence to distribute alcohol. Our band did have some one the low but we came prepared with our which was fine.
- There aren’t any sound systems in the surrounding area. As I was playing mas I didn’t mind this but it’s something to bare in mind if you’re coming as a spectator.
- The sun shines! I sit here still sporting my costume tan lines at the end of September. Literally.
Caribana takes place on the first Monday in August (a bank holiday) but the party begins on the Thursday before. New Yorkers drive up and a whole heap of Americans catch cheap flights into Toronto. Imagine 4 days of boat parties, Cabanas and daytime drinking. The one thing I appreciated was the older crowd and that the clubs weren’t full of 19 – 23 year olds.
And then what?
As our costumes left us near enough half naked, prior to Caribana we were on a strict diet of green tea and leaves so I don’t have much to say on Toronto food eateries
A lot of Londoners only came up for the 4 days and so missed out on seeing more of Toronto. If you have the annual leave to spare I’d definitely extend your stay. The City Pass is a cheaper way to visit quite a few attractions and know where to begin.
We hired a car and drove to Niagara Falls which was about a 1.5 – 2 hour drive from downtown Toronto. Although it wasn’t my first time seeing the falls it was my first trip into the falls. We caught one of those boats that take you right up to it. The Canadian side is known for being the best side of the falls so the trip is worth every penny.
A Canadian colleague of mine advised me to catch a baseball game while out there. Now baseball isn’t realllly my thing but I’ve now managed to cross it off the list. Roch’s cousin kindly bought us tickets to see the Toronto Blue Jays play the Red Sox. Check out Roch’s Caribana blog on Foundations to Flights.
So would I go again? Definitely. The pound is strong against the Canadian dollar so if you plan well you don’t even need to spend a lot.