Cross River - Governor Liyel Imoke of Cross River has flagged off the 2013 Carnival Calabar at Tinapa Business and Leisure Resort with the promise that this year’s edition will be bigger and better.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Calabar Festival began in 2000 as a Christmas celebration for residents of Cross River, while its carnival component was introduced in 2005.
Calabar festival is easily the largest event of its kind and its carnival component acclaimed as Africa’s Biggest Street Party with no less than 500 000 visitors and 50 000 costumed revelers.
Imoke, who was speaking at the press conference to flag-off the event, said that this year’s carnival with the theme "Ain't no stopping us" would be bigger and better than other editions.
Imoke told participants, including Nollywood stars and major corporate sponsors, at the conference that Nigerians and the global community were duly invited to "Africa’s Biggest Street Party".
He said that the 32-day festival would kick-off on November 30 with a tree lighting ceremony, building up to its climax on December 26 and December 27.
He explained that the line-up of events had been informed by audience feedback and a desire to further increase the reach and range of the event.
"Calabar Festival 2013 will be fresher, greener and most importantly meet the expectations of the audience and spectators.
"The traditional international partners Brazil (featuring Beija-Flor - Brazil's most successful band at the Rio Carnival) and Trinidad and Tobago will be joined by Rwanda and France," he said.
He said that the addition of these participants would add a fresh flavour to the festivities.
According to the governor, the presentation of James Ene Henshaw's play "This is our chance" will herald a welcome return to theatre.
"Others include “Kakadu” the musical, a first time appearance of “Les Grandes Personnes” - a collection of storytellers, craftsmen and puppeteers, who create large-scale effigies and locally-based story line for street drama.
"They gained worldwide attention at the FIFA World Cup in South Africa," he said.
He said that all musical performances would be by Nigerian artistes because the festival planning committee observed that Nigerian musicians pulled larger crowds than their international counterparts at previous festivals.
"Many of these artistes like P-Square and D’Banj have significant worldwide presence. The support today of major Nollywood stars, is therefore particularly significant,’’ the governor said.
He said that the festival village had been moved from the Cultural Centre to a larger space at the Calabar Municipality Grounds on Marian Road.
"Festival Village 2013 will feature the return of the popular Guinness Village for 'over-18s' and a new First Bank-sponsored Children's Village and Santa's Grotto for family fun.
"The Dangote Group will again be the main sponsor of the Children’s Carnival,” the governor said.
Imoke said that various charity events to raise money for youth empowerment programmes and the under-privileged would be part of the activities.
"For the first time this year, there will be a Green Ball, a charity event with an environmental conscious theme,’’ he said.