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Toronto's Top Festivals, Parades & Holiday Events 2010

WinterCity Festival
WinterCity Festival
Photo: Tristan Savatier

1. Scotiabank Caribana Festival
This two-week festival, which includes calypso concerts, an art exhibition, and a parade of more than 11,000 performers dressed in jeweled costumes and feathered headpieces along Lake Shore Boulevard, attracts more than one million people annually. The festival begins in mid-July.

2. Pride Week
Last year, Pride Toronto won its bid to host World Pride 2014. This year, the nonprofit organization marks the 30th anniversary of Pride Week, one of the city’s largest arts and cultural festivals. The festival gets under way June 25 and concludes with the Pride Parade on July 4.

3. Santa Claus Parade
More than half a million viewers line the streets of Toronto for the Santa Claus Parade, which celebrated its 104th year in 2009 and adopted a new route designed to pass Yonge-Dundas Square. The parade included 24 floats, 22 bands, and 180 celebrity clowns. The parade takes place in mid-November.

4. Toronto Jazz Festival
TD Canada Trust has extended until 2014 its title sponsorship of this festival, which features 1,500-plus musicians performing in more than 350 concerts. Last year the Shuffle Demons attempted to set a Guinness World Record for the largest saxophone ensemble at Nathan Phillips Square. The event takes place from June 25 to July 4.

5. Toronto Fringe Festival
The city’s largest performing arts festival, which turned 21 in 2009, included performances in nontraditional venues and an expanded FringeKids! program last year. The festival, from June 30 to July 11, includes more than 150 shows in 25 venues across the city.

6. Cavalcade of Lights

This monthlong festival, presented by Scotiabank, returned to Nathan Phillips Square for its 43rd year from November 28 to December 31. Festivities included the lighting of Toronto’s official Christmas tree and weekly concerts with performances by Steven Page, Matt Dusk, and Fritz Helder & the Phantoms. The event gets under way in late November.

7. Beaches International Jazz Festival
Fifty musical acts lined a two-kilometre stretch of Queen Street East for the festival’s three-day Streetfest, which drew close to one million people in 2009. The event, which includes performances in Woodbine Park and Kew Gardens, workshops, and a marathon, marks its 22nd year July 16 to 25.

8. WinterCity Festival

Sponsored by RBC, the festival returned for its seventh year from January 29 to February 11. The two-week event included themed skating parties at Nathan Phillips Square, arts events at local institutions, and the Winterlicious prix-fixe dining promotion at 150 restaurants.

9. New Year’s Eve in Nathan Phillips Square
More than 40,000 people gather outside city hall to ring in the New Year at this event hosted by (and broadcast live on) CityTV. In 2009, TV hosts Gord Martineau, Tracy Moore, Kevin Frankish, and Dina Pugliese led the 25th annual countdown.

10. Scotiabank BuskerFest
This four-day street festival to benefit Epilepsy Toronto marked its 10th anniversary in 2009 and kicked off with the inaugural BuskerBall fund-raiser at the St. Lawrence North Market. The festival has raised more than $1 million and is the largest of its kind in North America. The next event takes place from August 26 to 29.

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