A portion of Lake Shore Boulevard has been transformed into one giant, colourful Caribbean-themed party.
The 49th annual Caribbean Carnival grand parade began at Exhibition Place at around 10:30 a.m. and is wowing spectators along the 3.5 km route with awe-inspiring costumes and soca and calypso music.
"This parade is part of the fabric of this city," Ontario Education Minister Mitzie Hunter said at the ribbon-cutting ceremony at Exhibition Place.
"It's part of what brings us all together in one diverse city."
Toronto Mayor John Tory danced with Hunter immediately after the ribbon was cut.
"It's a great event in the city, both because it brings in a lot of people from all over the world to celebrate the Caribbean Carnival, but also because it's a celebration of our diversity, which is so important to the people in the city of Toronto and to how people see us around the world. On top of all that, it's fantastic fun," Tory said.
Toronto Police Service Chief Mark Saunders, Ontario Progressive Conservative Party leader Patrick Brown and Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath also helped launch the parade.
"We're gonna have a great time tonight!" Saunders said. "Good food, great music, good dancing! Let's all be safe and have a good time."
An estimated one million people are expected to watch the parade.
Roads were closed in advance of the parade and Toronto police say traffic conditions are expected to be heavy downtown.
Lake Shore Boulevard West is closed westbound from Strachan to Parkside Drive and eastbound from Colborne Lodge Drive to Strachan Avenue. Dufferin Street is closed south of Springhurst Avenue.
Meanwhile, a few Gardiner Expressway ramps have been closed as well. The eastbound Gardiner Expressway exit to Jameson Avenue, the eastbound Gardiner Expressway entrance ramps from Jameson Avenue and British Columbia Road, and the westbound Gardiner Expressway to Dunn Avenue exit ramps are all closed.
Police have restricted vehicle access on the following streets:
- Dufferin Street south of King Street West
- Dowling Avenue south of King Street West
- Stadium Road south of Lake Shore Boulevard West
- Queen's Quay West, west of Bathurst Street
- Springhurst Avenue west of Jameson Avenue and
- Springhurst Avenue east of Jameson Avenue.
Vehicle access west of Bathurst Street on Fleet Street and Lake Shore Boulevard West may be closed after the parking lots at Ontario Place and Exhibition Place lots are full.
The parade is scheduled to continue southbound on Newfoundland Drive and westbound on Lake Shore Boulevard West. A smaller portion of the parade will make its way onto Parkside Drive, while the Mas Bands will turn back into Exhibition Place at British Columbia Road.
The parade is expected to wrap up by 8 p.m.