Calabar Carnival – All You Need To Know

Calabar Carnival – All You Need To Know

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Calabar Carnival festival in Nigeria, also tagged ” Africa’s Biggest Street Party”, was created as part of the vision of making the Cross River State in Nigeria, the number one tourist destination for Nigerians and tourist all over the world. The carnival which begin on every 1 December and last till 31 December has boosted the cultural mosaic of Nigeria people while entertaining the millions of spectators within and outside the State, and boosting industry for all stakeholders.


The Calabar Carnival has come a long all started 2004, when the governor of Cross River State, Mr Donald Duke, had a vision of making his state the hub for tourism and hospitality in Nigeria and in Africa.[1] The Carnival presents a perfect platform from brand visibility for consumer and market awareness. “According to Osima-Dokubo, the carnival aimed to include more aspects of local heritage and culture and at the same time strengthen the capacity of the locals to participate in an economically beneficial way”, . Recently, Cross River State and Calabar has become the pride of Nigeria or Africa as far as tourismcarnivals and hospitality is concerned.


The programme of the event at the carnival are drafted each year by the committee in charge of tourism and cultural activities and new initiatives are introduced every year. In December 2009, Carnival Committee organized “Carnival Cup 2009”, a football competition amongst the five competing carnival bands – Seagull, Passion 4, Masta Blasta, Bayside and Freedom. The Festival which also include music performance from both local and international artists, the annual Calabar Carnival, Boat regatta, Fashion shows, Christmas Village, traditional dances and the annual Ekpe Festival is a yearly events that bring in thousands of tourists at the time of the year.

Other activities lined up for the year according to their work plan, include the second edition of Essay Writing Competition which will involve both secondary schooland tertiary students, and this will commence in few weeks. These competitions are aimed at resuscitating the reading culture amongst the youths of the State as well as inculcating the carnival culture.


The event has hosted top Nigerian musicians, Nollywood Actors, Politicians and international artists. Over the last 4 years international artists like, the late Lucky DubeAkonFat JoeYoung JeezyNellyKirk Franklin, and many more has thrilled the large crowd of Nigerians and tourist from outside the country. Due to large crowd and fans that Nigerians artist carries, 2013 Calabar Carnival would focus on Nigerian artist.[citation needed]

Impact and Improvement on 2013 edition

2013 Edition of the Carnival Calabar Festival which is themed “Aint no stopping Us” which was unveiled by the Governor of the State Sen. Liyel Imoke of Cross River State says it will hit an all time high level. Please don’t miss out of this opportnity. Cross River State Governor, Senator Liyel Imoke, has restated that even though the annual Calabar Festival has been growing bigger every year, the 2013 edition will hit an all time high level. a Nigerian artist rather than a foreign star, would headline this year’s event. This decision was taken following the observation by the Festival Planning Committee that Nigerian headliners consistently pull larger crowds than their international counterparts. This is a huge success and growth to the State. With Tinapa as the backdrop, and supported by Nollywood stars and major corporate sponsors, Governor Imoke made this declaration in a in world press conference in where he invited Nigeria and the rest of the world to Africa’s Biggest Street Party. Governor Imoke declared that the beauty of Nigeria is wholly expressed in the Calabar Festival and the unique brand should be jealously protected and promoted by all. He therefore used the occasion to call on the Federal Government and private sector to invest more in the creative industry, as it holds a lot for the country as regards revenue earnings.

The “Dos”

  • Be mentally prepare for a long walk.
  • Rest well on Christmas day
  • Take breakfast before leaving home on carnival day.
  • Drink plenty of water before leaving home to avoid dehydration.
  • Take any kind of fruit before the carnival.
  • Wear a trouser/ skirt that gives you freedom of movement.
  • Wear flat shoes or canvas /drivers.
  • Arrive at the stadium by 7:00am or at the time agreed with your band leaders at the designated mustering point.
  • Hold at least two handkerchiefs or a face towel.
  • If you cannot withstand the sun, wear sunglasses.
  • Hold some money for refreshments.
  • Make up your mind to feel good throughout the carnival.
  • Encourage your relations and friends to watch out for you in the carnival train.
  • Stop at designated rest points to refresh.
  • Obey all the rules and regulations of your section and band respectively.
  • Obey and respect your section leaders and band leaders respectively by complying with the directions they give you.
  • Keep your GSM telephone handsets very safe.
  • Use mobile toilets provided for the carnival float when the need arises.

The “Don’ts”

  • Do not smoke or take alcohol/any hard drug before and during the carnival.
  • Do not wear tight fitting dresses to avoid heat.
  • Do not carry any bottle on your persons.
  • Do not carry any sharp object such as blades, knives, needles and rods.
  • Do not expose any sensitive part of your body. Avoid the temptation to undress out of excitement.
  • Do not wear any high heeled shoes.
  • Do not expose your GSM telephone handset.
  • Do not carry heavy bags.
  • Do not run ahead of your section or band members.
  • Do not abandon your section or band until the carnival returns to the stadium.
  • Do not argue with your section or band leader for whatever reason.
  • Do not quarrel with anyone during the carnival.
  • Do not throw any object or item at anyone.
  • Do not urinate outside designated points.
  • Do not litter the streets with dirt such as wrappers, papers, plastic bottles, papers and other items/materials.
  • Do not disobey law enforcement agents and traffic control officers such as the police civil defence corps, federal road safety commission, marshals, etc.
  • Do not provoke anyone to anger through uncomfortable jokes or statements.
  • Do not chant anti-government slogans. This is not a political rally.


  • Known Asthmatics should come with their bronchodilators (nebulizers or inhaler)
  • Known hypertensive to seek their doctors’ advice before participating.
  • Take adequate glucose drink or glucose tablet or other energy drinks.

Carnival calabar band

Bayside band

Masta blasta band

Freedom carnival band

Passiob-4 carnival band

Seagull carnival band


Carnival calabar queen

Essay competition

Kings and queens

Cultural parade

Children’s carnival


Compiled by Ray KatiNns


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