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It took off like a benevolent whirlwind that blew those who embraced it so much good, so much fun. So much thrill. So much excitement. For 12 hours, the streets were animated with a long stretch of human mass in staccato but harmonious motions that excited the five senses on end. It gives the streets a life and momentum of its own. It became the dictator of the streets. This massive, seamless human train took off at dusk. By the time the rear band got to the terminal point it was well into dawn.

The Carnival Calabar is a phenomenal gathering and energetic march of fun lovers, revelers, and entertainers in the historic city of Calabar on the 27th December of each year. The participants are collapsed into five bands that virtually cast a spell on the spectators. Carnival Calabar was born out of economic necessity in 2005. It was a response by the government then to create a revenue stream other than statutory allocation from the Federation Account. It is the carthasis of the 32 day Calabar Festival. In five years, it has grown to be a major tourist event, and tagged biggest street party in Africa. Its pull is such that it has been bookmarked by many around the globe as an inescaple holiday event for the Yuletide.

The Carnival Calabar now has a life of its own. Although the government still provides administrative, organizational and regulatory support, it is mainly driven by the private sector via corporate sponsorship. The festival and the Carnival have created limitless income opportunities, generated jobs and boosted the travel, entertainment and hospitality industry in the State. It also provide an opportunity for budebag artiste to

show case their talents. The Carnival is increasing in value every day.

This Carnival has an intellectual element to it. Each year, there is a Carnival theme around which the five competing bands attempt to give a near realistic interpretation as possible. This forms the raison de’ter for the adjudication points at strategic points along the Carnival route. There are juicy prizes at stake. This makes the Carnival Calabar not just pure entertainment but a serious and competitive talent show and a dramatization of exotic dimensions creativity on an open-air theatre.

Passion Four holds the lead in terms of excellence of performance and the prizes won. It is the leading first prize winner, having won the top most prize four times. The other bands, namely Bayside, Seagull, Masta Blasta and Freedom Band, trail behind. Other non-competing bands that take part in the Carnival for the sheer fun it are the Nigerian Army Band, the Nigerian Civil Defence and Security Corps, NCDSC, Nigerian Police Force, Oceanic Bank (Sponsor of the Carnival pageant) and First Bank Plc, (Sponsor of the adult Carnival) All these make the Carnival Calabar a mosaic of colours, and a mix of brilliant patterns, costumes, choregraphy, music and dance.

Carnival Calabar is a fastgrowing afro-centric cultural expression, and annual rendition of the chequered history of Africa weaving the multi-ethnic culture of the continent into a single dramatic form. Carnival Calabar is also a socio-economic instrument for building friendships, networking, entrepreneurship, and economic security – especially for residents along the 12km Carnival Route. With about two million people on the street and another fifty million glued to TV sets watching in the comfort of their homes, the Carnival offers veritable marketing, business and branding opportunities for individuals and corporate organizations.

Carnival Calabar has evolved a character perculiar to it that has deepened and grown in influence and popularity since the first event in 2005. This noble character attracts thousands of tourists to the Carnival each year. This character attracts the famed Kano Durbar. This character enhances freedom of expression. This character enhances freedom of movement. This character boosts the excellent security in the State. This character boosts the sparkle and cleanliness of the city. This character generates laughter, smiles and merriment. It is remarkable that Carnival Calabar is the only event in Africa that the young and old stay up all night to watch and participate in. The Carnival is a boost for artistry and social interaction.

As the reveler-in-chief, Governor Liyel Imoke, is the face of the Carnival. Along with his wife, Mrs. Obioma Liyel Imoke, Senator Imoke, led other dignitaries that included, Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State, Isa Yuguda of Bauchi State, the Central Bank Governor, Sanusi Ibrahim Sanusi, other dignitaries drawn from across the public and private sectors to grace Carnival Calabar 2010. With all the attractions it offers, Carnival Calabar and Calabar Festival his made Cross River State a preferred holiday destination for families, holiday makers, fun lovers, and tourists all over the world.

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