Caribbean carnival parade returns to Montreal in 2024

“I can't wait,” said Jason Forbes, president of the YUL Cultural Association, about the return of the Caribbean carnival parade to Montreal this summer after it was cancelled last year. Gareth Madoc-Jones reports.

The Caribbean culture parade will make its return to Montreal for its 50th anniversary this summer after being cancelled last year. 

The Caribbean Coalition Network of Montreal (CCNM), a group of local community associations representing seven different Caribbean Islands, will be taking charge of the carnival parade and other festivities to celebrate Caribbean culture this year. 

“This is a staple of our heritage and of our culture. So when it was removed, it’s kind of as if you’re removing something that is near and dear to our hearts,” said Jason Forbes, president of the YUL Cultural Association.

“Definitely us having it back is a sigh of relief more than anything else, because of the fact that it’s so important to us as Caribbean people.”

It’s being called the 2024 Carimas Festival and is scheduled to begin on June 9 with four events over a four week period. It will feature Ms Carimas beauty pageants, the Petit Carimas junior carnival, a parade for kids, as well as the main parade, the Carimas Grand Carnival on July 6.

Montreal Carifiesta
The 2013 Carifiesta parade underway in Montreal’s downtown core, July 6, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Mario Beauregard

Forbes and his organization, the YUL Cultural Association, will be in charge of handling the logistics for the two carnival parades.

“The carnival is not necessarily a parade, it is an actual street theatre. This is basically you’re having a lot of people who customly make costumes that represent enslavement and emancipation of our heritage from being, you know, emancipated from slavery,” explained Forbes, adding, “basically what it is that we are demonstrating through customized costumes on the road, the artistry of basically what it is to be black and be proud of where we come from.” 

After the Carimas Grand Carnival parade, there will be a family-friendly cooldown gathering in a park with music, games and food vendors called the Carimas Sizzle. 

The locations of the events and parade are still to be determined. 

“You’re going to expect a lot of energy. You’re going to expect a lot of, we call it togetherness, right. So no matter where you’re from, no matter even if you’re not from the West Indies, if you’re from Quebec, whether you’re French, English, black, white, we’re all coming together as one to just basically celebrate a great time together and be cognizant of knowing that we are all one as one Montreal,” said Forbes. 

The 2024 Carimas Festival takes over from the Carifiesta Parade organized by the Caribbean Cultural Festivities Association. The Caribbean parade was cancelled last year because the City of Montreal denied the organizers funding of about $30,000. 

The city official responsible for the file said organizers of Montreal’s Carifiesta festival and parade did not meet certain criteria for funding in 2023.

This year, the CCNM secured a $30,000 grant from the City of Montreal to host their festival, but the organization has also launched a fundraising campaign to raise another $75,000 to help cover the costs of creating the costumes and floats, as well as to support youth involvement, accessibility and community outreach.

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