Calabar Carnival Festival

One of the biggest carnivals in Africa is the Calabar Carnival Festival in Cross River State, Nigeria. This carnival is tagged ‘’Africa’s Biggest Street Party’’ as it brings participants from all over the world to Calabar, Cross River State. The Calabar Carnival Festival started in 2004 during the administration of governor Donald Duke. It was the vision of the governor to make the state a hub for tourism and hospitality in Nigeria and Africa. The festival has come a long way since then. Cross River State has become the pride of Nigeria in the areas of tourism, carnivals and hospitality. The carnival is been celebrated from every 1st of December and lasts until the 31st of December every year. The festival has boosted the cultural mosaic of the Nigerian people while entertaining millions of spectators worldwide.


The programs 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. The Calabar Carnival Festival kicks off officially with a tree-lightening ceremony. The first three weeks of the event includes musical entertainment, street parties, art/fashion shows, boat regatta, food competitions, and essay writing competition for schools, masque events and traditional dances.

The musical entertainment event is always top-notch. This has brought many foreign artistes to Nigeria; hip-hop and gospel artistes have been part of the previous celebrations. It is also an opportunity for Nigerian finest music acts.

Other major events featured in the carnival are the crowning of the carnival queens and kings for each band, the children carnival, the Christmas party cultural carnival, the Annual Ekpe masquerade festival and the Mary Slessor Golf Charity dinner.

The fashion show is another beautiful event where the African heritage is displayed. It is highly costumed to reflect the cultural heritage of the people. The beautiful people of Calabar (Efik culture) are well displayed in the carnival. Calabar’s long list of cuisines also features in the food competition.


The traditional ruler, known as the Obong, and his cabinets also participate in this unique cultural carnival. The Obong, his cabinet members and other traditional title holders dress in their traditional regalia to reflect the cultural carnival. The event has also hosted top acts in the entertainment industry and politics. International artistes which have participated in the carnival are Lucky Dube, Akon, Fat Joe, Rick Ross, Young Jeezy, Nelly, Kirk Franklin, and so on.

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