Calabar Festival:Something for everyone!

Posted: October 19, 2010 by CalabarBeckons in Uncategorized

Yearly, the city of Calabar plays host to visitors within and outside the country to its 32 days of uninterrupted fun which runs from 30th November to 1st January, featuring live musical shows, cultural parades, Carnival Queen pageant, and the king of it all, the Carnival Calabar- a 12 KM street party with over 20,000 revelers!

The Calabar festival features;

The Xmas Arcade/Cultural Village

This shopping complex consists of a temporarily infrastructural facilities hosted in the beautifully landscaped Cultural Centre Calabar. It provides an interaction space for business and leisure seekers to interact, offering and receiving various products and services. The village features “The Chief’s palace, Africa Kitchen, Traditional dances, Masquerades, Palm Wine bar, local government days meets the needs of shoppers who trope to Calabar to purchase art works, clothes, home wares, etc. Bring your appetite along because lots of addictively delicious food awaits!


The youth development zone is part of the Calabar festival package that seeks to harness the potentials of young people. Since the festival is youth driven, hence the need to prioritize young people. With 22 days of mentoring on different career patterns of music, make up, choreography, public speaking, photography and videography as well as leadership foundation sessions. Celebrities in their calling, visit the zone daily offering inspiration to participants, some of which include:  Styl-plus, Ofuneka, Obi Asika, Banky W, Kelly Handsome, Prof Laz Ekweme, Opubo Braide, IT Jazz.

YDZ is a successful example of public private partnership and is co-hosted by Heritage Alliance with contributions from YES Nigeria, KIND and Youthcare for the Cross River State Government.

The Calabar Rocks Show

The musical concerts which features renowned national and international artistes like Lucky Dube (of blessed memory), Joe, Alpha Blondy, Hugh Masekela,Wyclef,  Oliver Mtukudzi, Akon, Kirk Franklin, Donnie McClurkin, Chevelle Franklyn, Fat Joe, Kerry Hilson, NeYo, Weird MC, Asa, Lagbaja,Wande Coal, Tu face,and D’banj-the KOKO Master!

Tu Face performing at Calabar Rocks show!

The concerts are diversified covering the different genres of music from Raggae, Gospel, Hip Hip, Jazz, Highlife and R&B ruling the nights with its rhythms.  This is further spiced up with the array of Naija major comedy Czar; Ali Baba, Julius Agu, I go Die, etc, little wonder the followership is usually over 30,000 persons in the 18-50 year old age group.

Nyoro Ekpe

Every 30th of December, the Calabar botanical garden plays host to the Nyoro Ekpe (a festival of the Ekpe masquerades). The Ekpe Masquerade is one of the oldest and most masquerade of the Efik Kingdom. Before colonialism and the advent of Christianity, the Ekpe masquerades were used as a means of social control also playing important roles during coronation, weddings and important cultural events.  Accompanied with chants, songs and dances, the masquerades display splendor in their colourful attires, with fascinating dance steps (Nsibidi) which is usually dictated by the talking drum(ibid).

The Calabar Carnival Queen

In response to the need for an ambassador for the festival and the tourism sector of the state, emerged the Calabar Carnival Queen competition. The context is open to young women aged between 18 and 27 who have spent at least one year in the university and a minimum intelligence quota (IQ) of 70%.

So far the competition has produced three queens, Miss Chineye Uwanaka winner 2007/8, and Miss Queeneth Orok, winner 2008/9 2009 as well as Miss Mayen Ekpo, winner 2009/10. Asides the fact that winners go home with mouth -watering prizes, the Queen serves as the face for Mothers against Child Abandonment (MACA), an initiative of Her Excellency, the Wife of the Governor of Cross River State, Obioma Liyel Imoke.

Efik Madiens displaying the "Ekombi" dance

Cultural Parade

The cultural fiesta features the various dance, dress patterns, masquerades and music of the different ethnic groups in the state and in the country. The event exposes the diverse traditions and cultural ambiance of the country from the Sokoto Caliphate in the North, to the riverine communities of the Niger Delta.

Boat Regatta

Hosted on the historic waters of the Old Calabar Estuary, the regatta showcases the riverine communities of the state. The troupes display dexterity in their   flamboyantly coloured boats.  With masquerades and live music, the teams dance their way to victory as they manoeuvre their way through the waves.

Nativity Plan

This night of carol renditions features songs and drama reminiscing the birth of Christ, modeled after the “Opera” Different organizations and churches including the EXCO,  House of Assembly choirs,   the Hope Waddell Society of Music, and others  offer the audience the “Bethlehemic” experience in Calabar!

The WAD city walk

This 4km walk is in support of the campaign against HIV AIDS and in commemoration of the World AIDS Day. The event organized by the Cross River State, government with collaboration with HIV/AIDS advocacy groups and agencies comprise road shows, talks and free counseling ad Testing. The walk is led by the Governor, His Excellency Senator Liyel lmoke and his wife Mrs. Obioma Liyel-Imoke, the Deputy Governor and his wife, top Government officials and other stakeholders.

Honorary members of the Bayside Band!

Carnival Calabar!

The highpoint of the festival is the exciting and colorful Carnival Calabar. It provides the melting point for all the costume and dance reversals,and band mobilization events prior to the festival. Attracting over 20,000 costumed revelers and well over a million local and international spectators, the Carnival, dubbed Africa’s Biggest Street Party, is a unique visual display of innovation and creativity, featuring cultural influences and traditions from the past and the present in its costumes, drama, dance and music.

Carnival Calabar is a unique display of African heritage of freedom showcased through music, dance, drama and visual creativity which is reflected in the design of floats, costumes and make-up graciously displayed by the bands through a strict adjudication process. With 5 competing bands and over 10 non-competing bands dancing through the 12 Kilometre Carnival route on the 26th being the children’s Carnival and 27th the Adult carnival comes alive.  With a followership of 20,000 seated spectators and 50 million TV viewers on NTA Network, NTA International, AIT, CRBC and Continental TV (Africa Magic, Channel 0 and MTV Base), the Carnival Calabar is simply the event with the swag!

  1. catherine Eriom says:

    this is fantastic and wonderful.but i feel u should have listed out the names of the five competitive bands and the presume non_competitive bands.keep the flag flying its worth winning an international award.

  2. Good job team! Now, how can you encourage young people to come and enjoy calabar in December? what tour packages are available that will cover air-fare, hotels, sightseeing and meals

  3. @Catherine,hold your peace, the next blog post has got your concern covered!
    @Rotimi, the unveiling of that would come soon,stay tuned!

  4. Solomon Onuvaye says:

    I had visited Calabar once and I know they are the good people and great ‘nation’. Love to be at the carnival someday. Great concept, great community

  5. says:


  6. dammy says:

    Excellent.good job, keep it up

  7. Nancy says:

    I love your blog! i hope to be in Calabar this Xmas,all things being equal!

  8. bernard says:

    cherrs , more greaeto ur elbows hope u guys can make the show unique cus all other states r=are givin u a run for ur money.

  9. elisha anwan says:

    i rily enjoy de carnival

  10. Joseph emeleogu says:

    CONGRATS Calabar for hosting d 2014 sports festival.Pls i wil like to be receiving mur information about d 19th national sports festival

  11. Efik-ibibio, One People, One Destiny, One Parent Language. You’ve Gotten What It Takes To Be A Great Nation-the Unique Identity, Rich Culture, Enterprising People, A Strong Youthful Populatn And An Economically Fit Class. Yet We Must Learn To Incorprate Our Kits And Kins In A’Ibom And Those In Western Cameroun To Be Part Of This Great Revolution. Long Live The Efik-Ibibio Race, Long Live The Calabar Kingdom. We Are Proud of You!

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