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Ever heard of a party so lit it involved the whole town?! Well, now you have! From the outskirts of the city, down its remote parts, and straight through the very heart of the state, the Calabar Carnival is a totally awesome fun-filled fiesta. Termed the biggest street party in Africa this century, the state-wide carnival has successfully become a unique event where people from all over the country and beyond go to have crazy fun and experience amazing hospitality.
The Calabar Carnival has put Cross Rivers State in the frontline of the country’s tourism export package. From the resplendent costumes to the dazzling dance moves, from the intoxicating musical atmosphere to the large array of funfare, not in any way forgetting the irresistible warmness of the local people, the Calabar Carnival will guarantee you end your year in style!
A Brief History…
The Carnival has come a long way. Beginning in 2004, when the then governor of Cross Rivers; Mr Donald Duke, had a vision of making his state the focal point for tourism and hospitality in Nigeria and Africa as a whole, the month-long carnival has grown to become a phenomenal force to be reckoned with gathering repute both internally and externally and presenting a perfect stage from emblem visibility for buyer and market awareness. The carnival has so far served, not only as an avenue for relaxation and fun, but also to amplify more facets of localized heritage and culture, at the same time strengthening the capability of the local people to take part in an economically beneficial way.
Tradition of the Carnival
The carnival starts on the 1st of December and lasts until the 31st, providing enough time for visitors and millions of spectators to explore the city. Events at the carnival are drafted each year by the committee in charge of tourism and cultural undertakings while encouraging and allowing room for new initiatives to be presented every year. In December 2009, Carnival Committee organized “Carnival Cup 2009”, a football competition amidst the five competing carnival musicians – Seagull, Passion 4, Masta Blasta, Bayside and Freedom. Other amazing events and activities are always invented and improved to make the experience a more wholesome one.
Some of the main features of the Calabar Carnival include;
- The opening ceremony where the Governor of the state reads out the carnival speech and unveils the theme.
- Parades by different teams and groups dressed in dazzling colour combinations
- Musical performances by different artists; both homegrown and foreign-based artistes.
- Different musical and dance displays by professional dance crews and local traditional dancers.
- Witness the traditional Ekpe carnival that holds in the state around the same time
- Different types of fanfare events go on throughout the month; ranging from Boat regatta, Trend shows, Christmas town, Traditional promenades.
- Catch a glimpse of the crème de la crème of society as they party and dance through the streets.
- Cash prizes and other rewards are awarded to different categories which include: best dressed, best dancers, and so on.
Significance of the Carnival
The significance of the Calabar Carnival cannot be over-emphasized. However, there are some key points worth noting.
- The carnival has helped to increase stakeholder interest in the state while luring more investors to the state.
- It serves as an avenue for indigenes and foreigners alike to relax and have fun after the hustle and bustle of the year.
- The carnival has quadrupled the state’s revenue income while placing it in the forefront of tourism for the country.
- Future new projects like an Essay writing competition and its kind which will engage both lesser school and tertiary students. Aimed at resuscitating the reading heritage amidst the youths of the State as well as inculcating the carnival culture.
- There is a huge atmosphere of friendship and hospitality formed in the state during the carnival period. This considerably reduces the level of crime in the state.
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