What’s your favourite Toronto festival? Mississauga’s Carassauga is one of mine, and it’s almost free.
If you are making a collection of photos of every culture found in Toronto, it’s a great place to shoot. It’s also an opportunity to meet people of other cultures. While you wait for a show to begin, you can start a friendly conversation and learn something about your neighbours. You can talk with dancers and people selling hookahs or goji berries.
Of course you have to organize your visit carefully if you’re aiming for a lot of the 64 countries that are represented. The Opening Ceremony at the Hershey Centre there this Friday will have 14 cultural groups that will also perform throughout the weekend. There will be eight pavilions there, too. You will find six more in the Tomken Twin Arena. I would aim for these two venues if you’re collecting countries.
The other nine venues are spread all over Mississauga in skating rinks, churches and community centres. A free bus will take you to these places, but the buses only run every 30 to 60 minutes. Performances are usually on the hour or the half hour. Seeing more than about 20 can’t be done. Last year I tried to drive to a couple of outlying pavilions. I got lost and only found one.You can get a map this year with locations at one of the Information and Welcome booths at Hersey Centre.
How many countries do you think you can include in three days?
So what country or countries should you choose? How about a country you’ve been wanting to visit or are planning to visit? What country are your kids studying at school? Should you choose one in a church you’ve been wanting to look at like the Ukrainian or Macedonian ones? Are you learning a language you’d like to practice on a native speaker? Or looking for some interesting musical instruments or a performer for one of your parties?
Children’s activities could include music, story telling, and arts & crafts. Markets will have products and souvenirs. Some will have cooking classes and food samples. You can ask where you can get Maltese or Iraqi food in the GTA. Where can you buy Ethiopian injeera bread? Where can you get African drumming lessons? Where can you learn to play a steel drum or steelpan? Or take Indian cooking lessons?
The Iraq pavilion will give you another, better image of that war-torn country. You can find out what is happening in Egypt today. You might choose to visit a cultural centre like that of the Maltese or Portuguese. Maybe you’ve been wanting to buy a hookah, one of those fancy water pipes. You’ll find some at Carassauga. Alas, they are no safer than smoking cigarettes.
Carassauga is almost free. It costs $12 for three days of visits. Kids 12 and under are free. There’s free parking and free shuttle buses. Food of course is extra.
You’ll get the information you need about venues and times on its web-site: http://www.carassauga.com/. The festival is open Friday, June 3, from 7pm to midnight; Saturday, June 4, from 1pm to midnight, and Sunday, June 5, from 1pm to 7pm. The Hershey Centre is at 5500 Rose Cherry Place in Mississauga. Telephone 905-502-9100 for information. This year it’s starting guided tours with food, guides, reserved seats, and transportation, but they cost $75 per person.
You could have the time of your life exploring the world without having to take an airplane.