Cultural Festivals in Canada

Every year, volunteers across Canada spend thousands of hours preparing for festivals that celebrate their heritage. Why do they do it?
Organizers from the Toronto Caribbean Carnival (Caribana), Canada’s National Ukrainian Festival, and the Icelandic Festival of Manitoba tell their stories.

The First Caribana
Caribana is one of Canada’s biggest multicultural festivals, annually attracting more than a million participants. The festival began 40 years ago.

Caribana was inspired by the Trinidad and Tobago Carnival, celebrated two days before Ash Wednesday in February. “The Mardi Gras festival (carnival) was taken over by slaves on emancipation as a parody of the elite,” explains Cox, who established the Black and Caribbean Heritage Collection at the Toronto Public Library.

The retired librarian adds that festival organizers decided to hold the Canadian festival in the summer because of the harsh winter weather.

A Multicultural Festival
The weekend event has grown into six weeks of Caribbean music, cuisine, and visual and performing arts. It now also includes the culture of Jamaica, Guyana, the Bahamas, Brazil and other countries.
Sometimes multiculturalism is misused.Multiculturalism is more than dressing up and dancing; it’s when people look beyond skin colour and see the same goals and the same desires.

The Icelandic Festival
Icelandic Festival each summer since 1932. The event attracts about 30,000 people. People come from Iceland to visit all the time.

Canada’s National Ukrainian Festival
Canada’s National Ukrainian Festival since 1965 to celebrate the culture of its large Ukrainian community.The three-day festival is promoted as the largest celebration of Ukrainian culture in North America.