Regarded as the biggest street party in Africa, Calabar Carnival was birthed by the then Governor of Cross River State, Donald Duke in 2004 with the vision to make Cross River, the heart of tourism and hospitality in Nigeria and also promote the culture of the people.
Being an annual event that features over 25 visiting countries, Calabar Carnival introduced ‘The Battle Of Bands’ which features many bands, the likes of; Seagull Bands, Masta Blasta, Bayside Band, Freedom Band, Passion 4 and others.
December happens to come with its own special flavor but there’s more to it when it comes to the residents of Calabar as the city starts welcoming visitors from far and wide and the the lightening of Christmas Tree on 1st December unfolding events which takes each day of the month.
The Carnival event is also being played on air with over millions of viewers by many television stations.
The event came in four parts;
From 1st – 10th December is the Millennium Week.
12th – 17th of December takes the Sports Week.
19th – 24th December is the TINAPA Family Festival, and then, 25th – 31st December happens to be the most interesting and most anticipated Carnival Week.
The Carnival event welcomes both local and international artistes, actors/actresses, top dignitaries and so on.
Music display from visiting and dwelling artistes, stage play and other entertainments worthy not to be missed are being held at the UJ Esuene stadium from morning till dawn. The event is annually drafted by the Carnival Commission Board of the state in which new activities are been included.
Each year, the Calabar Carnival has its unique theme, which the event will play in accordance with;
- In 2008, the theme of the event was ‘Sustaining Earth’s Treasure Through Our Culture.’
- In 2009, it was ‘Land Of Our Birth, Our People, Our Heritage.
- In 2010 – Our Strength And Resilience; The Bedrock Of Our Future.
- In 2011 – Endless Possibilities.
- In 2012 – The New Dawn.
- In 2013 – Ain’t No Stopping Us.
- In 2014 – Celebration Time.
- In 2015 – Climate Change.
- In 2016 – Climate Change – Bigger, Bolder, Better.
- In 2017 – Migration.
- In 2018 – Africanism.
- In 2019 – Humanity.
Bayside Band: (Leader: Donald Duke) – One of the major Bands in the annual festival with Blue as their color. It has a corporate body of 7-member advisory board, headed by a Program Manager.
Seagull Band: (Leaders: Princess Florence Ita-Giwa (OON) and Affiong Effiom) – Registered in 2005 and happens to be the most stylish Band with the sole purpose of promoting and maintaining Tourism and Hospitality and also meet some of the needs of the less privileged through their charity scheme with red as their representing color.
Freedom Band: (Leaders: Mr. Larry Esin and Capt. Henry Brisibe)
Also birthed in 2005, Freedom Band has been among the top contenders in the annual festival in all edition since its creation.
With Efiok Cobham as the grand patron, the Band has yellow as their representing color.
The Masta Blasta Band: (Leader: Gershom Bassey)
Unarguably the largest and most entertaining Band among the rest. Also called ‘The Orange Family’ and was founded in 2005.
The Band grew to becoming a reference point and the only Band that, caters, accommodates and encourage mutual interests between family and friends.
Having won the competition in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016, Masta Blasta happens to be the only Band to have won most of the prices in all categories of the event.
Passion 4 Band: (Leader Barr. Attah Ochinike)
Passion 4 is said to be the most is the most successful Band in the annual event with 9 times of being the Champions.
Under the supervision of their leader Barr. Attah and the founder Mr. Chris Agibe, the Band has continued to grow in creativity and has been crowned Africa’s most outstanding Band. Green is their color.