If a trip to the sunny south isn’t in your near future, the next best thing is a visit to the Scotiabank Toronto Caribbean Carnival, taking place July 7 – August 5 in downtown Toronto.

Bringing the culture of the Caribbean to Canadians each year, this lively festival features a spectacular array of events, including a children’s parade, outdoor concerts, the King and Queen Contest, a steel pan orchestra competition, the Carnival Ball and of course, the Grand Parade.

On July 18, The Junior Carnival Parade will take place in and around Neilson Park in the Malvern community with over 2,500 children performing for the judges and playing Mas. It will truly be a spectacular sight! On July 19, don’t miss the Ignite Pan Performances at Fort York, held in conjunction with the Pan Am Games. Ticketed events include the Carnival Ball on July 24 in the Liberty Grand Ballroom, the Calypso Extravaganza on July 26 at the Chinese Cultural Centre, the King and Queen Contest on July 30 at The Allan Lamport Stadium and Pan Alive on July 31, also at Lamport Stadium.

The highlight of the festival is the magnificent Grand Parade that will take place on Saturday, August 1 around the Toronto Exhibition grounds. Masqueraders in vibrant costumes and Steel Pan bands will be on display along a 3.5 kilometre stretch from Exhibition Place to Lakeshore Boulevard. Millions will visit the parade, which takes place between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. during the last weekend of the festival. If you’re keen on catching an unobstructed view, paid viewing areas will be available for a $15 fee.

Toronto’s “Caribana” began in 1967 as a three-day event and has grown into a three-week Caribbean extravaganza that proudly carries the title of being North American’s largest cultural festival of its kind.

Be sure to come hungry and satisfy your craving for delicious roti and jerk chicken and treat your eyes and ears to the dazzling sights and sounds of the islands at this year’s festival. For more information and to plan your visit go to www.torontocaribbeancarnival.com.