• Saturday, June 15, 2024
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Why Carnival Calabar is a must-attend this year

Why Carnival Calabar is a must-attend this year

… Oraginsers unveil theme, activities

Once again, the year is fast running with the 2024 edition of Carnival Calabar drawing closer.

Of course, the carnival is Africa’s biggest street party, which draws over 2 million people on the streets of Calabar, the Cross River capital city, across 32 days of excitement in the cleanest and most secure city in Nigeria.

This year, the carnival will be celebrating its 20 years of exciting fun-loving people of Cross River, their friends and visitors alike.

However, in line with the ability to surpass each past edition’s feat, the 2024 carnival is set to break all records achieved in the over two decades of the carnival and this is why Cross River Carnival Commission, the organiser, is insisting that you must visit this year’s carnival.

Speaking on the reasons the carnival is a must-visit this year, during a media parley in Lagos recently, where the theme of this year’s edition was unveiled, Gabe Onah, chairman, Cross River Carnival Commission, noted that there are many unique offerings this year in addition to the existing ones. But all the excitement and showcases, according to Onah, are imbedded in this year’s carnival theme ‘Our Shared Prosperity’, which would be the basis for intellectual and creative contest among the competing bands.

Read also: Carnival Calabar; display of creativity, theatre on the street

According to Onah, the peace and love in the air are also reasons to visit.

“Love is what the people of Calabar are giving, you come to us, we show you love, you stay in our hotel, you buy our food, you are happy, and we are happy,” Onah said.

To add more fun to the number of activities lined up for the 2024 event, Onah disclosed that the carnival will be partnering with YangaGames, an online gaming platform as well as a Junior Carnival in partnership with the Nigeria Centre of the International Association of Theatre for Children and Young People (ASSITEJ).

Another reason to see the carnival this year is because it has remained the only government carnival that has endured for two decades, as others in the country packed up within their first three years.

He attributed the feat to government’s unwavering commitment and the community’s unalloyed support as the three sustainable pillars for the carnival are the product, the community and the stakeholders.

Also offering reasons to for would-be visitors to attend the carnival, Effiong Ekpenyong, Special Adviser, Events Management and Tourism Development, Governor’s Office, noted that this year’s edition promises to be more interesting, engaging and rewarding.

“A lot has been added to this year’s carnival, the carnival is our flagship brand but, we have other shows inside the carnival that we will use to keep our guests busy all through the period,” Ekpenyong said at the media parley in Lagos.

According to him, this year’s theme: ‘Our Shared Prosperity’ is a good reason to visit in order to witness how the competing bands will interpret the theme with their costumes, drama on the street, cultural displays, among others.

“The themes for our carnivals mean a lot to us because we put a lot of intellectual work into it. Over the years, we have had very engaging themes and it is the responsibility of the governor to come up with a theme and our partners will have to go back and interpret it through dances and costumes that suit their purposes,” he explained.

For the sponsors also, there are many reasons to foot the bills at this year’s carnival as the organisers promise a mileage that has never seen before considering the different activities infused into this year’s edition.

“When we started, DSTV was showing our event for one day but now we have seven days with more than 40 countries watching and more than 50 million viewers. Our mileage is second to none. When you partner with us, you will never regret it,” Ekpenyong said further.

Reconfirming the above mileage, Mary Ephraim-Egbas, marketing consultant to the carnival and managing director, Okhma Global said, “We are looking for more partners who will be part of the shared prosperity story because the carnival has attendees of about 2 million people and it goes for 32 days which is huge because if people don’t buy your products on the first day, you still have more days on the streets of Calabar to market your brand”.

According to Ephraim-Egbas, Okhma Global is already selling ‘Our Shared Prosperity’ to partners, potential sponsors and to the people because it feels very much that the carnival is about the people.

“This year 2024, our expectation is to share value, share love and we want to thank our partners since inception for supporting us. Our partners also embraced the governor and trusted him during our breakfast meeting last year, and we must say thank you to FirstBank, Fidelity Bank, Sterling Bank, GAC Motors among others for taking our relationship to the next level,” she said.

Meanwhile, the organisers used the Lagos event not only to unveil this year’s carnival theme, but also the line-up of activities for the carnival.

Announcing the activities, Austine Cobham, executive secretary, Cross River Carnival Commission, stated that the carnival would be a 32-day event, which would kick off with the lightening of Christmas trees in the city on December 1, amid HIV AIDs walk to the festival village.

The first dry run heralding the carnival would hold October 20, the second dry run would be on November 2, while the final dry run would hold December 8.

According to Cobham, the cultural carnival and the Kings and Queens performances will hold on December 26; the children carnival, now called the Junior Carnival and the Pageant of Humanity will take place on December 27, then the Carnival Calabar, known as Africa’s biggest street party, will be on December 28, Bikers Parade will hold December 29, while the street party, a free dancing party event, will be on December 30, 2024 at Marian Street.

Apart from the above activities, each day of the carnival will feature comedy night, reggae night, boat regatta barbecue night and more at the Marina Resort Waterfront, the organisers promised.

“We will feature a mega concert where A list Nigerian artistes will perform for free and we have a mini theme known as Sweetness Continues,” Effiong said.

On his part, Ikechi Uko, Carnival Calabar International Consultant, noted that over the years, the carnival has grown to become a very good product that appeals to many both locally and internationally, while commending the commitment of the government and the people of Cross River in keeping the carnival alive and making it more exciting each year.

Apart from activating Nigeria’s culture, and tourism, Uko explained that Carnival Calabar is a good image maker for the country, wooing many visitors from across the world at each edition. Citing instances with carnivals in Lagos, Abuja and Rivers states, which have stopped after few editions, Uko noted with excitement that Carnival Calabar is the only government event that is still on and growing after 20 years.

He attributed the survival to the ability of the organisers to make the carnival non-religious, non-political and all-inclusive entertainment for all, amid the people’s buy in.

“The people of Cross River owned the project and will do everything in their power to protect it,” he said.