The 2019 edition of Calabar Carnival – Africa’s Biggest Street Party

calabar carnival

The 2019 edition of Calabar Carnival – Africa’s Biggest Street Party – December 3rd to January 2nd 2020.

The Calabar Festival is an annual street dance festival held in December of every year in Calabar. Calabar Festival is Africas biggest street dance festival and cultural display of the rich rich African cultural heritage. It features music, food, dance, drama, performances by different artists etc. The 2019 Calabar carnival promises to be bigger, better and stronger. The Calabar carnival is a whole month of a rich cultural display, creatives by some of the best artist in Nigeria. The Calabar festival also has a day dedicated to all international acts to perform and display.

The Calabar Carnival is the biggest costume party in Africa. The yearly event is known to attract over two million spectators from all around the world. Each year focuses on a theme and the theme for this year’s edition is “Africa’s Biggest Street Party”. This year’s edition will feature guest and performers from different parts of Africa and the world in general.

calabar carnival

The Calabar Festival has witnessed performances from top artist like Lucky Dube, Young Jeezy, Fat Joe, Nelly, Tuface, Kirk Franklin, P Square and many other artists and upcoming musicians in Nigeria.

Calabar has been at the forefront of promoting tourism in Nigeria and this has greatly positioned Calabar as one of the top tourist destinations in Nigeria.

Apart from the cultural display, the carnival also features music performances, Fashion Show, Boat Regatta, Beauty Pagent, Traditional dances etc.

The Calabar Carnival is the biggest and the most popular carnival in Nigeria with participants from over 25 countries in the world and has attracted tourist from many parts of the world.

Brief History of Calabar

Calabar is the capital of Cross River. Calabar was the former Capital of Nigeria before it was moved to Lagos. It is located in the Southern Part of Nigeria and it is known as the Canaan City, It was formerly known as the Akwa Akpa which was coined from the Efik language. Calabar is a beautiful city and one of the biggest tourism hubs in Nigeria. The home of Tinapa Resort. Calabar prides itself as the city that hosts the biggest street carnival in Africa. Calabar is blessed with beautiful tourist destinations. Calabar also has a history of the killing of twins which was abolished by Mary Slessor. It also has a history of the slave trade and also one of the biggest salve hubs during the slave era. It is also one of the biggest slave hubs after the point of no return in Badagry, Lagos, Nigeria.

The History of Calabar carnival

The Calabar Carnival was inaugurated by the past Governor of Calabar State Donald Duke in 2004 to put Calabar in the forefront of tourism in Nigeria. Mr Donalk Duke’s vision is to make Calabar the number one tourism destination in Nigeria. 

The Carnival is being organized by the River State Carnival Commission located at Okoi Arikpo House, Old Calabar Road, Calabar. 

The event is known to attract the traditional ruler of Calabar known as the Obong of Efik and other important chiefs in Calabar. The traditional rulers and the title holders in Calabar storm this event which has now become one of the biggest carnivals in Nigeria. It has witnessed significant changes over the years. Calabar carnival has witnessed different people from all works of life trooping to catch a glimpse of the performances and splendour displayed during the carnival.

When is the date for Calabar Carnival

This year Calabar Carnival and festival with start on 3rd December 2019 to 2nd January 2019.

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About Calabar carnival

The carnival is an annual event and has witnessed so many episodes since its inception in since 2004. It features the street parade, battle of the bands, football competition, cultural dance, art shows, masque party, sporting events.

The event has been graced with both local and international artists, actors, musicians, politicians from the world over. The carnival is known for the cultural display of elegance and glamour

2019 Programme schedule for Calabar carnival

The yearly event always begins with a tree lighting ceremony, followed by food competition, writing competition for students, musical shows and performances, fashion parade, beauty pageant etc. Here are the schedule and the list of events for the 2019 Calabar carnival: The Christmas Party, the children’s carnival, Ekpe masquerade festival etc

The Carnival features art shows and displays, cultural dances, ceremonies, musical concerts, masque parties, sports competition and a week-long non-stop street party. 

  • 1st – 10th December: The Millennium Week
  • 12th – 17th December: Sports Week
  • 19th – 24th December: The TINAPA Family Festival
  • 25th– 31st December: Carnival Week
  • 26th Cultural Carnival features a special parade of different Nigerian culture
  • 27th Bikers carnival features different vintage car display, bike competition
  • 27th Miss African Beauty Pageant
  • 28th carnival Calabar this is the main adult parade by the different bands, street parade and band of the year competition.
  • 29th International carnival is where all the international bands gather to display their cultural heritage
  • 30th Street Party this has been termed the biggest street party in Africa

The parade

The parade features over 50,000 costume artists who perform among the five competing bands and the ten non-competing bands. The parade is a 12km parade along the designated routes. 

The Millennium Week

This is usually done between the 1st and 10th of December and it starts with a tree lighting event, food competition, solidarity march, crowning of the carnival Kings and Queens for each band, the children’s carnival etc

Calabar Carnival Sports week

The Sports week is filled with different sports competition where the different team battle for the Carni-Cal cup and it also features a golf tournament, boat Regatta and other sporting activities.

The Calabar carnival Bands

There are five official competing bands at the Calabar Festival

  • The bayside Band (blue)
  • Masta Blasta Band (orange)
  • Freedom Band (Yellow)
  • Seagull band (red)
  • Passion 4 Band (green)

Themes for the past Calabar carnival

  • 2013 – Ain’t no stopping Us
  • 2015 – Climate Change
  • 2016 – Bigger, Better and Bolder
  • 2018 – Africanism

The Venue of Calabar carnival

From its name, the Calabar carnival is done in Calabar and over the years it has become one of the top tourist hubs in Nigeria. In case you are still wondering where is the venue of the Calabar Carnival? The different activities of the Calabar Carnival are held at different venues. There are different venues for the different events at the Calabar Festival but all the events will be taking place on the street of Calabar in Cross River State Nigeria.

Location of the Calabar Carnival

The event takes place majority at the Calabar Cultural centre and the Calabar Stadium while the parade happens on designated streets in Calabar.

How to get to Calabar

The easiest option is to take a flight to Calabar through the Margaret Ekpo International Airport in Calabar

Safety Precautions to Take When Attending the Calabar carnival

1. Beware of pickpockets this is a known occurrence at every carnival in the world not common to just Calabar carnival

2. Make sure you stay safe and out of trouble

3. Do not go to unfamiliar locations alone

4. Don’t trust strangers with your goods and personal belongings

5. Obey the rules and regulations of the state. 

6. Drugs and prostitution are illegal in Nigeria. 

Countries Represented at the Calabar carnival

Calabar has been widely attended from so many countries across the world and has witnessed attendance from over thirty different countries In partici[pation. Calabar carnival has witnessed participation from countries like

  • Thailand
  • Mexico
  • South Africa
  • Brazil
  • Greece
  • Kenya
  • Ghana
  • DRC
  • Senegal
  • Rwanda
  • Columbia
  • Lithuania etc

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