By Nathalie Taghaboni

Toronto’s Scotia Bank Caribana is in its 42nd year

This year’s festival continues through August 3.

Ever been to a carnival? No, not the one with carousels and cotton candy.

I’m talking about the Mardi Gras in New Orleans; the revelry in Rio de Janeiro; or the sensory overload of the bacchanal in Trinidad & Tobago.

With today’s gloomy economy, it would be difficult to get to these places, but what if I told you there is a way to hear all the music, feel all the excitement and see all the stunning color that is carnival, without spending your entire nest egg?

Pack the kids in the car, take Route 11 north to Interstate 94, turn east and drive for 3 short hours until you see a sign saying “Party over Here!” and voila! There you are, smack dab in the middle of way too much fun.

Toronto’s Scotia Bank Caribana is in its 42nd year.

This year’s festivities are already underway with boat cruises on Lake Ontario, exhibits and shows throughout the city. It launched officially July 14 and continues through August 3.

There are some events that you simply must not miss. On Thursday, breathtaking costumes take the stage to compete for the coveted titles of King and Queen of Caribana. These are not floats, nor are they mechanized in any way, but they can be as high as 60 feet and almost as wide, carried by one individual. The costumes are handcrafted and created exclusively for the event each year.

Like steelpan music? Top Toronto steelbands will be taking part in the Pan Alive competition held Friday, each vying for the bragging rights as the winner of this grand slam of pan music.

On Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Toronto is completely transformed into a kaleidoscope of color and sound. The Parade of the Bands is on Lakeshore Blvd. Wave after wave of masqueraders take to the streets in what can only be described as WOW!

If you have a smidgen of energy left, you can catch a ferry boat ride over to the Toronto Islands on August 2 to enjoy the food and music of the Caribbean. There is lots of room to spread out a blanket and lay back to enjoy it all.

Don’t forget to ensure you have proper travel documents. Even though it’s just next door, Canada requires you to have a current passport to enter and you will need it to get back into the U.S. The dollar exchange is in our favor with the U.S. dollar currently worth $1.14 Canadian.

For further information on the festival, visit www.caribanafestival.com.

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