Rastafest is Canada’s largest celebration of Rastafarian heritage and culture. The festival is a multi-disciplined, family fun event highlighting different aspects of the Rastafari culture. The festival draws from the rich and diverse Rastafarian lifestyle, culture, and history.
Activities include: music, dance, ancestral drumming, arts/crafts market place, ital food cuisine, children/youth activities, writers’ corner and a live concert featuring national and international reggae artists from Canada, the United States of America, and the Caribbean. The festival is produced by Rastafest Inc and promoted by Masani Productions Inc. Rastafest is not only created for entertainment, fun, and excitement for the entire family but it also provides an opportunity for networking amongst small business entrepreneurs at the Kijiji Market Place. Rastafest is a unique festival: while entertaining, it has an educational focus, i.e. an information booth is set up at the writers’ corner whereby patrons can educate themselves about the Rastafari livity through readings by Rastafarian writers. Special emphasis is placed on children and youth as active participants at the festival whereby various activities are staged in the daytime for them.
Rastafest is a continuation of international and national Rastafarian initiatives in Canada and Jamaica, namely: Rastafari Cultural Workshop in Toronto – 1977; First International Rastafarian Conference in Toronto – 1982; Second International Rastafarian Conference in Jamaica – 1983; Voice of Thunder: Dialogue with Nyah Binghi Elders in Toronto – 1984; Kulchajam in Toronto – 1985; Rastafest in Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal – 1993; Rastafest in Ottawa – 1994/1995; Rastafest in Jamaica – 1996/1998/2012; Rastafest at Harbourfront from Saturday, August 5 to Sunday, August 6, 2006 and at York University on Saturday, September 30, 2006. The festival was staged at York University from July 19 to July 22, 2007 however due to the overwhelming support from the patrons the festival ventured out to the Jane and Finch community and was successfully staged in the parking lot of Jane and Finch Mall from 2008 to 2010. The festival flourished in numbers in the parking of Jane Finch Mall despite the negative stereotype of the Jane Finch community. To accommodate the steady growth of the audience the festival was moved from the Jane Finch community to Downsview Park in 2011 where it has been staged up until 2016.
MISSION AND VISION
The mandate of Rastafest is to use the arts as a vehicle for strengthening community resiliency by contributing to the collective, cultural, and enrichment of the African-Caribbean-Canadian community. Rastafest is use as a vehicle to help patrons recognize Rastafari’s contribution to the growth and positive image of the multicultural society in Canada