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 tourists 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 way..it 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. 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 tourism, carnivals 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 school and 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 Dube, Akon, Fat Joe, Young Jeezy, Nelly, Kirk 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.
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 opportunity. 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 Calabar carnival 2015 was a huge success with lots of performances and guest appearance by celebrities across Africa. Calabar Carnival 2015 theme was unveiled by Governor Ayade the Governor of Cross River State and was tagged "Climate Change". The governor also elaborated that the 2015 carnival could only get better by adding more activities to the carnival, hence the addition of the Bikers Day and Disco Fiesta.
The Carnival and Festivals in 2016 are taking a different shape. The theme this year is maintained as "Climate Change" to entrench the culture of preserving the environment and emphasise the effect of doing so on individual lives. The official marketing company Okhma Global Limited in conjunction with the Carnival commission have brought a new dimension of excitement to the activities this year. The events are divided into 4 weeks which include the Millenium Week (1-10 Dec 2016), The Sports Fiesta (12-17 Dec 2016), The TINAPA Family Fun Festival (19-24 Dec 2016) and the Carnival Week (25-31 Dec 2016). Among the activities this year is the Green Initiative which encompasses the Green Ball - a celebration of the Government's efforts in combatting Climate Change, the Green Symposium which will bring major protagonists of the Climate Change cause globally together to discuss and educate the teeming populace and the 10,000 Tree Planting Project a.k.a. The Green Carnival. The carnival will also be streamed live online to audiences around the world.