As the ongoing Calabar Festival holding in the city of Calabar, Cross River State, Nigeria gathers momentum, the teeming crowd of tourists and crowd of enthusiasts that have followed the festival since it opened its floodgate of entertainment, were treated to a colourful and fun filled event, perhaps a foretaste of the star event, the Carnival Calabar, as the carnival kings and queens competition enthralled them to what to expect in a day’s time as the festival gets to its crescendo.
It was a parade of colours, costumes, creativity, innovation and imaginative interpretation of the theme of the yearly festival, which is: ‘Ain’t No Stopping Us.’ The festival, which first made its debut in 2004, has grown from a small local event to become an internationally celebrated yearly feast of the best of Nigeria’s entertainment content and a blend of contemporary vibes attracting both local, national and international artistes as well as tourists from across the world.
It is a 32 day of high wire and variety of festive events ranging from cultural, musical, sports to fashion and beauty pageant of all of sorts with the Carnival Calabar, which is generally regarded as the apogee of the festival , attracting huge and awesome participation of the people hence it is regarded as ‘the biggest street party in Africa.’ Because the whole of the state are involved in the feast with every resident and visitors taking to the streets and the carnival route, which spans several kilometres harvesting pure fun and excitement.
The queens and kings competition, which usually heralds the carnival, which holds every December 27 not only served as a means of feeling the pulse and vibrations of the main carnival but more than anything else added colours and fun to the Christmas Day celebration, which was celebrated in style yesterday in the city of Calabar with different activities held across the city.
The competition, which held in the night at the U. J. Esuene Stadium, spanning into the early hours of the morning saw the five traditional bands of the carnival – Masta Blasta, Paasion 4, Freedom, Bayside and Seagull bands’ queens and kings in both the junior and senior categories, treating the audience to a blend of colourful presentations, thereby serving notice of what the people should expect as the carnival proper holds tomorrow – Thursday December 27.
Also on hand to excite the enthusiastic crowd were the Rwanda National Troupe and the Steel Band from Trinidad and Tobago. In all, it was a night of celebration and fun. And what a better way to end the Christmas Day festivities and herald the two days carnival section, which begins today, Boxing Day, with the Junior Carnival and Party and Cultural Parade.
In the audience were a high number of government officials and other guests from across the world led by the state governor, Senator Liyel Imoke and his wife, Obioma, the Nigeria Minister of Culture, Tourism and National Orientation, High Chief Edem Duke, the state Deputy Governor Cobham Asoquo and the High Commissioners of Trinidad and Tobago and Rwanda to Nigeria, respectively.
Tomorrow – Friday December 27, carnival celebration is expected to draw a huge crowd of followers and participants as the five traditional bands and others including the new addition to the roll call, Nollywood band, which is expected to feature some of the notable Nigerian actors and actresses. The Calabar Festival, which started since Saturday November 30 with the tree lighting ceremony in Calabar would end on January 1 with a grand thanksgiving and church service celebration in the city.
Cross River, Nigeria is known as the number one tourism state or destination of Nigeria, as the state government has over the years made conscious and concrete effort to develop the tourism economy of the state with the building of infrastructure and developing the tourist attractions of the state as well as building a number of tourist facilities and promoting and marketing them at various foras.
Obudu Mountain Resort is one of its prime facilities as well as the Tinapa Business Resort, which is the first in Africa while the Calabar Festival, which is a 32 day devoted to fun and entertainment is the key product, which today is an international brand, geared at promoting the destination as a first class rated holiday destination.
Nigeria is a Council member of the International Coalition of Tourism Partners