caribana 2020 cancelled

This is how Toronto reacted to Caribana being cancelled for first time in 52 years

The summer of 2020 is being pronounced over before it even begins thanks to the cancellation of yet another major festival: The Toronto Caribbean Carnival.

One of the biggest, if not the biggest annual event in Toronto, Caribana usually brings more than 1 million people and some $400 million into the city each July and August.

The beloved festival of Caribbean culture has been running each year since 1967, but such will not be the case for 2020 due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Festival organizers announced on Wednesday night that the Toronto Caribbean Carnival would be cancelled for the first time in 52 years "due to the continued developments concerning the spread of COVID-19, the severe public health threat, and global health crisis."

"In consultation with our stakeholders, which includes the Bandleaders, Ontario Steelpan Association (OSA), Organization of Calypso Performing Artists (OCPA) as well as our partners and other related cultural organizations, and taking into consideration the mass crowds that attend the events present a tremendous risk regarding the spread of the virus," reads a statement from the Festival Management Committee.

"It is therefore unanimous that the priority must be the health and safety of our patrons and having weighed all these considerations, there is no choice but to cancel this year's festival," the statement continues.  

"It is our responsibility to the City and our patrons to encourage social distancing, hand washing and self-isolation to support the efforts of our first responders and essential workers who are at the frontline of the COVID-19 containment."

Needless to say, Toronto residents are crushed.

Many people outside the city who had already planned trips to Toronto for Caribana 2020 are similarly saddened by the news.

Given how far out the date of the month-long event series is, some are worried about what the cancellation of Caribana means for other events in the city.

... and for what it means about how long this lockdown period will last.

With both Pride and Caribana now off the table, many are already lamenting a summer that never was.

Others are taking the opportunity to remind their peers that, as much as a summer without events will suck, things could be much, much worse.

"Yes banna. Sad, expected, a must," wrote one Twitter user. "We are privileged here that we can complain about ONE Caribana. Some nations deal with cancellations regular due to war, politics, or worse still, can't have them in the first place. We are blessed! Save lives this year, bun festivals until."

And others still are prepping to celebrate as usual, but in isolation.

All hope is not lost, however — there's still a chance that Caribana could move forward in what festival organizers call "a non-traditional format."

"Given the importance and economic value of this festival to the City, the province, the Federal Government, the tourism industry, and our community, we will work with our stakeholders and the community to assist the City with the recovery efforts," reads the cancellation announcement.

"Should the circumstances change, and permit restrictions lifted by July 1, 2020, we will seek to celebrate together in a non-traditional format the weekend of August 1, 2020."

Here's to hoping.

Lead photo by

Hector Vasquez


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