Cariwest is lighting up the streets of downtown this weekend with a colourful parade and festival in Churchill Square to celebrate Caribbean arts and music.
“It’s just a festival of joy, happiness and it’s a lot of fun,” says Samantha Alexander, president of the Western Carnival Development Association. “Happy is probably the word that comes to mind the most. It’s a chance to learn about and experience Caribbean culture.”
The three-day festival kicks off with the costume extravaganza, a competition for the bands to showcase their larger-than-life costumes. A king and queen of the bands is chosen at the end of the night.
Head downtown on Saturday for the Cariwest Parade from noon to 2:30 p.m. The parade will be led by Mayor Amarjeet Sohi, who is Cariwest’s first ever parade marshal. The 1.7 kilometre parade starts on 108th Street and 99th Avenue and ends at Churchill Square where the party will be waiting to begin.
The programming on the square starts at 2 p.m. with the Parade of the Bands, a performance of 13 bands including the People’s Band, which anyone can join. The rest of the evening is filled with performances from local and international groups.
“We added a lot of entertainers this year, including a lot more international artists, which we’ve never done before, which is exciting,” says Alexander. “We’re expecting a lot more people to be attending the festival just to come out and see these bigger artists from the Caribbean.”
While at Cariwest, browse over 15 craft and retail vendors at the Caribbean Marketplace, eat your heart out at the 20 Caribbean food vendors and enjoy entertainment on the main stage. Bring your family, as the programming on Sunday is geared towards kids, including a Cariwest kiddie zone, parade and kid’s concert.
“Not everybody gets the chance to visit a carnival in the Caribbean, but this gives you a small taste of it here in Edmonton,” says Alexander. “It gives you the chance to maybe experience a different culture. It’s a great festival to come out to and feel a part of a community, part of the action and you can experience it in your own backyard without having to step on a plane and go somewhere else.”
Cariwest is on from August 5 to 7 in Churchill Square.