The questions from Caribana 1st timers started early (which I'm glad to see), so I'm doing the annual visitors and newbie mas players post now.
Here's last season's post, check it out regarding fetes, and pre & post parade events:
So You're coming for Caribana
When you comes depends on if you want to go to any fetes the weekend before.
Trini-in-Toronto says he would stay down near the lake because:
1. It’s a close walk to the Harbourfront Center where there will be lots of free entertainment in an open air atmosphere.
2. You are walking distance to restaurants, transit, fete venues, shopping, & a liquor store. It’s a real nice and safe tourist area, where you can walk around and that week, you will see lots of Trinis in the area.
3. There are a bunch of Caribana boat cruises that you can walk to, and they usually have top name entertainers performing. (check out Toronto-lime for boat cruise and other fete listings.)
Trini-in-Toronto actually searched for a list of hotels within 1 KM of Harbourfront Centre. Early bookings are always best, as Caribana attracts 1 million people.
0.0 km WESTIN HARBOUR CASTLE - 416-869-1600
0.0 km Radisson Plaza Hotel Admiral Toronto-Harbourfront - 416-203-3333
0.6 km InterContinental Toronto Centre - 416-597-1400
0.8 km Renaissance Toronto Hotel - 416-341-7100
0.9 km The Rosemont Residences - 416-340-1221
0.9 km Strathcona Hotel - 416-363-3321
0.9 km Residence Inn Marriott - 416-581-1800
0.9 km Strathcona Hotel - 647-438-2290
1.0 km SoHo Metropolitan Hotel & Residences - 416-599-8800
1.0 km Fairmont Royal York - 416-368-2511
You can always do a proximity search to the CNE, where the parade is. Or any downtown hotel will work. When staying elsewhere in the city, best to choose a hotel within walking distance to a subway.
Bands will launch in April, May & June, with registration shortly after. There are big bands (@500+ masqueraders) and medium sized bands (minimum of 75) to choose from (see band list to the right of the blog).
If it were me coming from stateside, I would want to go with a band that has great online registration, as that's quite important. I would also want my email inquiries to be answered promptly.
As I've never had to register online with a band, maybe a foreign masquerader can tell us how it went for them in the past.
As far as costumes go, you can check out band launch costumes pics from last year:
You could always wait for when bands update their websites with new 2010 costume pics (which will hopefully happen soon after their launches). Some bands put on a more traditional mas for Caribana, and of course, there's bikini & beads mas. Whether you want some coverage or to go "skimpy", you'll have quite a costume selection for sure. If you're interested in reviews, I'd read the comments from masqueraders here about what they thought of their costumes, the band's customer service, and the on the road experience.
The event listings are here: http://www.caribanafestival.com/pagedisplay.aspx?i=203
Planning ahead is best, let me know if you have any other questions.