Carnival according to Cambridge English Dictionary refers to a special occasion or period of public enjoyment and entertainment involving wearing unusual clothes, dancing, and eating and drinking, usually held in the streets of a city.
Whenever we hear the word “Carnival” or “Carnaval” we think of Rio de Janeiro and half-naked people dancing around with colorful headpieces and having a good time. Or maybe Renaissance-themed dresses, powdered wigs and masks at the Venetian carnival. Carnival means different things to different people of diverse origins and various ethnicities. The time of the year when carnivals are celebrated also varies from one ethnicity and nation to another.
Among other historical carnivals is the ‘Calabar Carnival’ – a carnival owned and held by the Cross River people of Nigeria.
Cross River State is a coastal state in South South Nigeria, named after the Cross River, which passes through the state. Located in the Niger Delta, Cross River State occupies 20,156 square kilometers. It shares boundaries with Benue State to the north, Ebonyi and Abia States to the west, to the east by Cameroon Republic and to the south by Akwa-Ibom and the Atlantic Ocean.
Festivals are an irresistible part of Cross River. They are a celebration of tradition and the ways of life of the many different communities. Celebrations and dances are an integral part of our customs and traditions—nowhere else in Nigeria will you find such rich diversity.
Every ritual and dance communicates and teaches something important. These festivals help to reinforce the values that keep our communities together and proudly celebrate their identity.
The Calabar Carnival is an annual celebration which is held from November 30 to January 1. The Calabar carnival is referred to as “Africa’s biggest street party” was started as a means of attracting visitors to the state. The carnival is organized by the Cross River State Carnival Commission.
The 32-day event incorporates the Carnival Calabar; the Calabar Carnival Queen Pageant; the HIV/Aids Walk/Conference; an African Weekend away at the Obudu Mountain Resort; musical concerts featuring local, national and international artistes; a Cultural Fiesta; Boat Regatta; Christmas Camp for children; Children’s Carnival; Christmas Village; African Food Expo; fashion shows; film festival; Carol Night; golf and soccer tournaments; fireworks and much, I mean the list goes on and on.
It is multi-dimensional, multi-faceted tourism leisure and entertainment programme. It is viewed across the world via various media platforms that are partners in the event, including NTA, HiTV, DStv, DaarSat and CRBC.
Adapted from Nigeria Gallaria