Every Christmas, the city of Calabar, off the Atlantic coast in southern Nigeria, comes alive to the sound of music and matching dance steps of thousands of revelers who partake and share in the fun of the Christmas season.
The Calabar Christmas Carnival — touted by organizers as Africa’s biggest street party — was created with the ultimate vision of making it the No. 1 destination for tourists and holidaymakers during the Christmas season.
While Christmas in Europe, America, and most of northeast Asia is closely associated with the cold winter season, where on occasion the falling snow can get heavy, Christmas time in the ancient city of Calabar brings with it near perfect weather conditions, with rain showers gone and bright and sunny days to make merry outdoors.
The Calabar Carnival was created in 2004 by Donald Duke, the then-governor of Cross River State, with the aim of showcasing the indigenous cultural heritage of the people while adopting influences from the Caribbean carnival culture.
Additionally, it is focused on strengthening the capacity of the locals to participate and benefit from an expected economic boom from tourism. Carnival presents a perfect platform for companies and organizations to showcase their brands and products.
In the less than two decades since its creation, the month-long carnival (Dec 1 to 31) has become a magnet for fun seekers and merrymakers in Nigeria and around the African continent.
Carnival participants are divided into competing bands that parade the streets in stunning costumes and show off their dance routines and the beautiful designs of their expansive floats. The carnival also features live performances from famous local and international artists as well as guest appearances from celebrities and eminent persons.
Over the years, carnival organizers have gone to great lengths to ensure that the carnival’s activities highlight a particular theme or subject of global or local interest. In 2015, for example, the carnival’s overarching theme was climate change.
So this season, why have a “White Christmas” when you can have a “Fun Christmas” in the warm African sunlight, Calabar style.
Watch a video on 2015’s Calabar Carnival here: