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Ontario Parades:
Street Parties and Performances

Sometimes a vacation destination isn't a place, it's an event. Ontario parades celebrate the diversity of life in Ontario.

The big ones are in Toronto but there are smaller versions, particularly of the Santa Claus Parade, in most larger Ontario towns.

Probably the biggest parade of them all is Caribana.

This Caribbean Festival started in 1967 as a way for folks from Trinidad and Tobago to re-live the carnivals of 'back home' and it has grown steadily to embrace aspects of all the different Caribbean islands' cultures.

Ontario Parades -- Caribana

Ontario Parades: caribana float

Color, music and rhythm are the order of the day here and, as you watch the parade on a hot July/August Toronto summer day, with the blue sky and lake as a backdrop, you can almost imagine yourself in the Caribbean.

Ontario Parades: Caribana performers

The Caribana parade makes its way along Lakeshore Boulevard from about noon to four or five in the afternoon, with colorfully costumed dancers and floats of a variety of sizes and colours.

It pays to arrive early to get a good view because the front rows along each side of the road quickly fill up.

Ontario Parades: Caribana float

The south (lake) side is more accessible with a long unbroken view, though with limited places to sit; however, once the parade begins, you have to stand anyway to see anything.

The north side has trees and buildings along the route so it isn't so accessible.

However, the north side does have a bank to sit or stand on so you can see over the fence that mars the view on the south.

Ontario Parades: Caribana performers

As with most festivals, the parade is free to watch. The events though generally have an entrance fee.

To enter Exhibition Place, where the parade ends, does cost you money, see their site here for latest information, but it's worth it to see the costumes and floats up close.

You can see more parade pictures here.

Other Parades

The other two big parades in Toronto are the Santa Claus Parade in November, running through to December for other towns, and the Pride Parade in June.

Ontario's most popular parades are undoubtedly the Santa Claus ones and not only because it gives free candies to the kids. Every major town and city holds a Santa Parade and they all get a large turnout because so many of the local townspeople are involved.

One recent (in the last 20 years anyhow) development in Santa parades has been the local farmers dressing up their tractors and other moving machinery for a Christmas Parade of Lights or Christmas Tractor Parade. Many rural towns hold them now so if you're visiting in late Fall, look out for one of them.

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