The Calabar Carnival and Cultural Fiesta 2017

Colourful marchers at the 2017 Calabar Carnival

Africa is home to some of the best festivals and cultural events in the world, from huge carnivals and religious celebrations to smaller musical and harvest events. There is always festivals and events happening around the continent, and these African festivals are colourful and vibrant. The Calabar carnival is one of many festivals in Africa. Calabar carnival is a popular occasion held annually in Nigeria at Calabar, the capital of Cross River which shares borders with Cameroon.

We also recommend our guide to the best annual cultural festivals in Nigeria.

Cross River is one of the most beautiful places within Nigeria which is laced with countless tourist destinations and attractions such as the Obudu Ranch Resort, Afi Mountain Wildlife Sanctuary, Ikom waterfalls and a bunch of many other tourist destinations which has both locals and visitors from around the world in awe of the wonderful city.

Festivals in Africa: Calabar carnival festival 2017
Queens at the Africa’s largest party – Calabar Carnival. © nharzar_fire/instagram

The Calabar carnival is a 13 years old festival which was launched at it’s first showcase by the then current Governor of Cross River state “Donald Duke” back in December 2004 in other to promote state’s tourism and that of Nigeria as a whole which it did to the fullest. While the event promoted tourism both for Calabar and Nigeria as a whole, it also encouraged peace and friendship between different Nations from across world as different tourists grace the streets of the city during the festivities, which in return also boosts the Nigerian economy. It also creates an opportunity for different SMEs as they would have an opportunity to have more amount of sales and also network while the city gets to entertain it’s guests.

Calabar Carnival, Cross River State
Troupes from the 36 states of the federation participate in the 2017 Calabar Carnival parade. © Crossriver_minoftourism

The 2017 Edition of the carnival which took place in December hosted about 2 million tourists and visitors from 25 different countries across the world which makes Calabar the most visited state and tourist destination in Nigeria and Africa at large. The event which was stormed by tourists from across the world featured a lot fun filled activities from dances, to beauty pageants and live performances by Nigerian A list music artists.

Also spotted at the carnival was popular British Nigerian actor “John Boyega” who starred as ‘Finn’ in two series of The Star Wars film Star ‘The Force Awakens and it’s sequel ‘The Last Jedi’, as well as other known Nigerian actors Shan George, Ime Bishop Umoh popularly known as ‘Okon’, Rachel Oniga amongst many others.

The streets of Calabar was packed with thousands of tourists being entertained by various dance groups in colorful costumes as well as music bands that played to the hearing of both the visitors and the dancers on the streets. The streets of Calabar were also stormed with bikers from across borders during the Bikers Carnival which is part of the event program. The Ekpe masquerade festival was also one of the many highlights of the carnival as different masquerades danced the beat of local drums around the city while exhibiting the cultural heritage of the Calabar people to the world.

The former Governor of Cross River state ‘Donald Duke’ also graced the carnival with his team of bikers and his wife as well as some other notable people from across the country. It was no doubt one of the most amazing festivals in Nigeria at the time.

Festivals in Africa: Calabar carnival festival 2017
The Governor of Cross River State, Senator Ben Ayade during the Calabar Carnival, 2017.

One of the most cherished highlights of the carnival is that of the beauty pageant, where the most beautiful ladies in the city of Calabar competed against each other to find most attractive and most intelligent woman in the city who after winning the competition, will be representing the city at competitions both home and abroad. The carnival sure left a mark in the hearts of it’s audience.


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