Carnival is an annual celebration of life found in many countries of the world, which is all about learning more of ourselves and accepting and understanding other people’s culture. Carnival as an art offers a dynamic tool for self-expression and exploration, a tool to seek out our roots, develop new forms of looking at the world and its cultures, and finally, a tool to unite the world, to discover what we all have in common, and to celebrate what makes us different. This name carnival began hundred years ago by the Catholic religion in Italy by holding a wild costume festival right before the first day of Lent. Because they are not supposed to eat meat during Lent, they called their festival, CARNEVALE — which means “to put away the meat.” As time passed, it became quite famous in Italy and it spread to France, Spain, and all the Catholic countries in Europe. Then as the French, Spanish, and Portuguese began to take control of the Americas and other parts of the world, they brought with them their tradition of celebrating carnival.
In Nigeria today the idea of Carnival was first initiated by former President Olusegun Obasanjo (GCFR) just before the end of his first term of office. It started as a reaction to the Carnivals of other nations that he had been invited to; he observed that these carnivals had historical experiences and contributed immensely to the cultural growth of their countries in addition to projecting the images of those countries.
Also in Calabar, Carnival festival which was tagged “Africa’s Biggest Street Party”, was created as part of the vision of making Cross River State in Nigeria, the number one tourist destination for Nigerians and Tourist all over the world. The carnival which begin on every 1st of December and last till 31st December has boosted the cultural mosaic of Nigeria people while entertaining the millions of spectators within and outside the State, and boosting industry for all stakeholders.
The Carnival presents a perfect platform from brand visibility for consumer and market awareness. “According to Osima-Dokubo, the carnival aimed to include more aspects of local heritage and culture and at the same time strengthen the capacity of the locals to participate in an economically beneficial way.” Recently, Cross River State and Calabar has become the pride of Nigeria or Africa as far as Tourism, Carnival and Hospitality is concerned.
The programmes of the event at the carnival are drafted each year by the committee in charge of tourism and cultural activities and new initiatives are introduced every year which might include a “Carnival Cup “, The Festival which also include music performance from both local and international artists, the annual Calabar Carnival, Boat regatta, Fashion shows, Christmas Village, traditional dances and the annual Ekpe Festival are yearly events that bring in thousands of tourists at the time of the year.