It is without a doubt that the Calabar Carnival is one of the biggest, longest, and most exciting tourism events experienced in West Africa. The Calabar Carnival is also known as Africa’s Biggest Street Party or the Pride of Nigeria. It is an annual event that is held every December as an activity to mark Christmas celebrations.
The Calabar Carnival is said to be Nigeria’s biggest carnival that is internationally recognized. It is a very entertaining and colorful event that features different competitions and huge cash prizes to be won as well.
From its name Calabar Carnival, Calabar is the capital city of Cross River State which is also known as Canaan City located in the South-East of Nigeria.
The carnival was pioneered in 2004 by Governor Donald Duke of Cross River as a way to promote tourism and improve the local economy.
The then one-month event which was later reduced to two weeks by Governor Benedict Ayade after he was elected is drafted each year by the committee in charge of tourism and cultural activities. In 2009, the festival committee organized a “Carnival Cup”, a football competition among the five competing carnival bands, the Seagull, Passion 4, Masta Blasta, Bayside, and Freedom.
The two-week festival also features music performances from both local and international artists, the annual Calabar Carnival, Boat regatta, Fashion shows, and Beauty pageant (Miss Africa) – was introduced in 2016, Christmas Village, Traditional dances, and the annual Ekpe Festival that attracts thousands of tourists from within and outside the country.
The carnival also entails essay writing competitions that involve secondary and tertiary institutions, designed to promote reading culture amongst the youths of the State and to imbibe in them the carnival culture.
In 2015, the festival was held under the theme “Climate Change”, as it hosted more than 15 countries according to Gov. Ben Ayade. Also, in 2017 it was tagged “Migration” connoting that migration has a long history in Africa and it has been the home of many cultures for centuries.
The 15th edition of the carnival was in 2018 with its theme “Africanism” and was held to tell the African story from the African perspective.