Kick off the summer at TD IRIE

Nothing says summer quite like community, music and culture. Whether it’s honouring our own background or celebrating our neighbour’s, soaking up the sun at a weekend festival is as Canadian as it gets.

At Celebration Square in Mississauga, the summer starts off with the TD IRIE Music Festival on June 22 and 23. 

The festival features music, dance and arts featuring Canadian, Caribbean and African-Canadian performers. The square will also be filled with arts and crafts, delicious food from a variety of Caribbean and international vendors and more surprises. The real highlight, however, are the live music performances. Various genres including reggae, soca, African, soul, Latin, world music and spoken word will fill the main stage all weekend.

This year’s headliners are Jamaican reggae artist Junior Kelly, dubbed roots ambassador and famous for his international chart-topping hit single If Love So Nice, and the dynamic soca performer Patrice Roberts, famous for hit singles A Little Wine and Sweet Fuh Days. Kelly performs on June 22, while Roberts closes the show on June 23. Also on the bill are the all female reggae band Rayzalution; Canadian soca sensation Jaxx; Level Exodus; and a special guest performance that organizers are keeping under wraps.

“The Festival connects us through music and opens doors to an inclusive tomorrow by increasing our sense of community belonging,” said Valerie Picher, TD Bank Group associated vice-president, community relations.

The very first TD IRIE Music Festival was presented in 2002, in collaboration with the Toronto Urban Music Festival. It has since continued to expose culturally diverse artists to hundreds of thousands of fans while providing an opportunity to celebrate African-Canadian culture. 

Dance performances have been integral to IRIE since its inception and this summer is no different. Dance Immersion, a non-profit dance company dedicated to promoting and showcasing dancers of the African Diaspora, will feature its 2018 Summer Showcase. A Youthful Joyous Movement will feature dancers from local groups NGoma Ensemble; Afiwi Groove; D’Lyfe; and Roots & Branches. The urban dance troupe K.I.D.S. will also be featured over the weekend.   

In addition to the performances, no festival would be complete without food. The weekend’s events will be complimented with Caribbean and international foods by a variety of food vendors. Also, a licensed bar will provide an assortment of beverages.

For those who want a bit more competitive edge in their eating, this year’s festival features the inaugural Best IRIE Jerk Competition on Saturday afternoon. The contest will be judged by a celebrity panel and receive the title of Best IRIE Jerk.

“We are proud to celebrate the 16th anniversary of one of the most highly anticipated free festivals in the Greater Toronto Area,” said Phil Vassell, IRIE artistic director. “We continue to be a family friendly celebration with something for everyone and we look forward to another fantastic year.”

The festival moves to Toronto Harbour to wrap up on June 24 with the third annual IRIE Boat Cruise. The cruise features a live performance by LFS Music and DJ sets from three of Toronto’s top spinners aboard the Yankee Lady III near Harbourfront Centre at 1 p.m. Tickets are available at TicketGateway.com.

Photo: This year’s TD IRIE festival features Junior Keely, Patrice Roberts and others at Celebration Square on June 22-23.

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