The Ultimate Guide To Having The Best Time At The 2018 Calabar Carnival

Roll in the festivities with the spirit of carnival at one of the largest street parties in Africa. The 2018 Calabar carnival in Cross River state, Nigeria, compared in the past to the Rio de Janeiro Carnival in Brazil has been brilliantly themed ‘Africanism’ and we are excited to see what costumes would be displayed this year, who would be attending and so much more!


The carnival which takes place annually is now in its 14th year and it involves a series of events inspired by local culture, arts and entertainment. It is the most anticipated event in December as people from all over the world converge in Calabar to sok up the culture and entertainment.

The carnival which is modelled after the Brazilian Carnival has events starting from December 1st and run all the way till the 31st. However, the key events take place in the last week of the month. This is the week most tourists look forward.


Before you set out for Calabar Carnival, here are important tips you should know

  1. Book your accommodation way ahead! – At this time of the year, most of the nice hotels are already fully booked. Don’t wait till the last minute.
  2. Get a power bank – Now if you are looking to take pictures, videos and share real-time, a power bank will be your best friend.
  3. Dress comfortably – You will be seated in a corner of the street the whole day or even walking alongside some of the bands. You sure want to be dressed for maximum comfort while doing this.
  4. Be vigilant! – As with every large gathering anywhere in the world, there will be pickpockets. Don’t fall victim this
  5. Hold enough cash – Yes, I know we are trying to live in a cashless society. However, the POS may fail you after a purchase, there are bound to be queues at the ATMs so be prepared and armed with enough cash to last you the day.

Now, these are the key events you should target…

  1. The Bikers parade which takes place on the morning of 27th of December. On this day, bikers get to have all the fun.


  2. The Street carnival takes effect on the 28th of December. This is where all the bands come to display their costumes.


  3. The Wonders on Wheel parade takes place on the 29th of December featuring a display of vintage cars.


  4. Green Carnival set for the 30th of December. Here Cross River State government would symbolically display actions that are favourable to the environment.


  5. Finally, there would be fireworks to usher in the new year on the 31st of December.

Want to be actively involved in the parade? There are 5 major bands every year. Various brands also form their bands that take part in the parade. You can sign up into any of the bands. However, some bands require specific qualifications such s being tall, beautiful, a model, a beauty queen etc. Some of the bands pay you to be a part of them while some don’t.


The 5 principal bands are

  • Seagull Band which is led by Senator Florence Ita-Giwa (OON) is identified by their red colour. They are aimed at promoting and sustaining the Tourism and Hospitality industry of the state and is known to recognize and celebrate artists, movie stars and beauty queens.


  • Masta Blasta which is also known as “The Orange Family” claims to be the most entertaining. It holds the record for the most prizes won in all categories of the competition within a single year.
  • Passion 4 is known by their green colour. You can call them the winning band as they have won 6 times and have been first runner-up twice.
  • Bayside Band known by their blue colour is led by the former governor Donald Duke. Membership of the Band is open to everyone interested – both Nigerians and foreigners.


  • Freedom Band with their yellow colour was founded by Capt. Henry Brisibe and Mr Larry Esin. The band is said to have consistently been among the best three in all previous editions of the Carnival Calabar event.

Will you be attending this year’s carnival? Have you attended before? Do let us know your experiences in the comment section.


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