Last year, South Georgian Bay got its first local taste of the Caribbean—a festival reminiscent of Caribana Toronto, North America’s largest Caribbean festival. With almost 700 guests and the Toronto Revellers as headliners, organizers said it was a smash success.
This year, Carnival North is doubling down on entertainment while chopping the price of entry from $45 to $25 to boost both accessibility and attendance.
“We had such a fun time last year, people raved about it,” said Kicha Holden, one of the main event organizers. “We know that for people from the Caribbean, Carnival, J’ouvert, Mardi Gras or Caribana (it’s called different things in different regions) is a family affair. Now it’s even better, especially with a dedicated Kid Zone play area, but more affordable for mom, dad, kids, grandparents to all come and enjoy the party.”
The event that brings Caribbean energy to southern Georgian Bay takes place Saturday, August 12, 2 – 11 p.m., in the beer garden, a lush stretch of lawn, at The Collingwood Brewery. It includes an all-day roster of musical entertainment, performances, dancing, and a dedicated Kids’ zone, complete with obstacle course, inflatables, basketball and a carnival marquis, a place where kids can have fun on their own.
Members of the Toronto Revellers will be in attendance from the start, putting on performances throughout the afternoon and going on into the night. Founded by bandleader and former Toronto Raptor Jamaal Magloire, the Revellers is a collective of masqueraders and performers who headline at Toronto’s annual Toronto Caribbean Carnival, winning Best in Show at Carnival 21 times: best costumes, best presentation of a band.
Food is a big part of Caribbean culture and Carnival North will not disappoint. Angie’s Place Caribbean Eatery, a Stayner institution for over 20 years, will be serving up delectable curries and rotis for purchase, while Barrie’s Creative Bean will provide more dishes, including Doubles, a delectable all-vegan fried delight. There will also be ice cream on offer.
The famous Rum Punch is back, thanks to local distillery Heretic Spirits, as well as The Collingwood Brewery’s ice-cold Caribanna Lager, a crisp, approachable beer with a hint of citrus hops, brewed specifically for Carnival North by head brewer Chris Freeman.
Guests will also find other Caribbean drinks, a selection of non-alcoholic drinks, plus a water station.
Holden and Burke see Carnival North as a testament to the proliferation of Caribbean outside of the Caribbean, and outside of the GTA, in the past 30 years. It’s also accessible to locals who want a taste of home.
“Terrisa and Nelson from Trinidad own the Pastel Hut in Thornbury,” said Burke. “They don’t want to drive all the way to Toronto and spring for an expensive hotel and two days of restaurant meals. Carnival doesn’t need to be an expensive weekend.” She rattles off more names of locals who are looking forward to a taste of home.
The Collingwood Library adds depth to the Carribean theme with a display of Caribbean history from July 31 to August 12. It focuses on the pioneers of Carnival, from the 18th century to the modern age, through calypso to soca music. Get a close-up look at the costumes on display, historical records, and artifacts of Island culture in Simcoe from years gone past.
Carnival North Details
Tickets & Info: https://www.carnivalnorth.ca/
Where: The Collingwood Brewery, 10 Sanford Fleming Drive, Collingwood
What: An authentic Caribbean festival including food, drink, music, dancing, performances, dedicated child play area, and more. Note: no dogs allowed.
When: 2 p.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, August 12
Cost: 18+ $25, 4-17 $15, 0-3 free
Transport: Lots of free parking; walk/bike via Collingwood Trails