Living: Seeing the World From Your Own Backyard

by Sandra Fletcher

The United Nations thinks that Toronto is one of the world’s most multicultural cities. Probably, Ontario is one of the most culturally and ethnically diverse areas on the planet. It only makes sense that we enjoy all that our area has to offer and sample the celebrations of the world that take place right where we live!

Capital Region

Head over to Ottawa and experience Canada Day! Ottawa traditionally hosts the country’s largest celebration of Canada’s birthday every year on Parliament Hill on July 1st. This event is free and fun for the whole family. There are concerts, street performers and shows. Stay until the evening to see the amazing fireworks display over the parliament buildings!

Ottawa also hosts the TD Canada Trust International Jazz Festival from June 20th to July 1st at Confederation Park. Michelle Francis, the Director of Client Services for the Festival stated, “It’s part of the festival’s goal to present cultural music to our audiences while at the same time reaching out to the various cultural communities in the region.” Many acts from around the globe will be performing this summer. For ticket information contact their offices at 1-888-226-4495.

SouthWestern Ontario

Sunfest takes place outdoors in Victoria Park in London from July 3 to 6. It is a global arts festival and admission is free. At the festival you can experience the music, dance and jazz from artists from around the world. In addition, there are craft and food vendors sampling the arts and foods of a number of countries and cultures. More information can be found at www.sunfest.on.ca.

Windsor, the US/Canadian border offers its own celebration, Bluesfest! From July 10 to the 13th the city is full of music inspired by the blues musicians of the southern US; recognized blues artists perform throughout the weekend. You can find more information about concerts and costs at www.thebluesfest.com.

Toronto – Fun in the City

From May through September Toronto plays host to many events, festivals and celebrations.

Celebrate Greece and its traditions by attending the annual Taste of the Danforth. Held each summer on the second weekend of August, the outdoor street party is Toronto’s largest open air street festival. It takes place along Danforth Avenue from Broadview to Jones. Your family will be entertained by the sounds, scents and tastes of this large Greek community!

Caribana celebrates the cultures of all of the Caribbean nations from Trinidad to Jamaica through the entire West Indies. There are many events held from the kick off on June 15th which end at the giant Caribana Parade on Saturday August 2nd. The parade itself, now in its 41st year boasts a 3.6 km parade route full of the music, colour, costumes, and art of the Caribbean nations. The complete guide to Caribana and all of its festivities can be found at their website www.caribanatoronto.com. Every weekend Toronto’s Harbourfront hosts different cultural events as part of its rich multicultural programming. Each event celebrates the unique qualities of several country’s arts, music, dance, food and people.

  • South Asia Calling takes place from August 8-10 and celebrates the diversity of South Asian culture.
  • Telus Taiwan Fest is held August 22-24 and showcases Taiwan and Taiwanese Canadian performers and traditions.
  • The Ashkenaz Festival is from August 19 to September 1 and blends all the parts of Yiddish cultural practices.

Many events and festivals are free! www.ontariotravel.net is an amazing resource to find out what is happening around Ontario. According to their web site their mission is “to showcase Ontario as a four-season must-see travel destination at home and internationally.” Many of the festivals and events it lists show the range of cultures that co-exist here in Ontario. These include celebrations of Aboriginal traditions, Religious Celebrations and explorations of Canadian History.

Fun, exciting, multicultural events are available for you, to get a taste of the nation that you now live in. “Canadian” does not mean ONE culture but the cultures of many. Be sure to enjoy exploring your own back yard this summer!

CNM