By Demola Ojo
Last week, the Cross River state governor, Professor Ben Ayade and his wife Dr. Linda Ayade, actively participated in the second Dry Run for this year’s Carnival Calabar in December.
The dress rehearsal which ensures the preparedness of the competing bands and test-runs innovations, served to set pulses racing at the prospect of another exciting edition of Africa’s biggest street party.
Next month, Nigeria’s first capital city would come to life again. Going by the dry run and last year’s edition, there are a few reasons to consider Calabar as a holiday destination during the year-end festivities.
The carnival has grown year-on-year and is now a truly international competition of culture and dance. Foreign groups that participated last year include the Flamingo of Spain, Italian Flag Twirlers, Drumming Wonders of Burundi, Urukereza of Rwanda, Ghana cultural Troupe, Masai Dancers from Kenya, Vai Vai Samba of Brazil and more. Of course this also includes the five Nigerian bands; Passion 4, Masta Blasta, Seagull, Bayside and Freedom.
Richly costumed revelers dance the 12-kilometre stretch of the carnival route accompanied by trucks blasting the latest hits. Acrobats and magicians are normal fare.
Masquerades, celebrities, notable disc jockeys and creative floats are other attractions.
A Bikers Carnival was also recently introduced. Last year there were over 1,000 bikers drawn from Nigeria, China, Canada, Australia, Germany, the US, the Philippines, Togo, Ghana and Benin Republic.
They performed different stunts, keeping the ecstatic crowd that lined the carnival route enthralled.
Among the many attractions include concerts featuring the Nigeria’s leading entertainers and a fashion show with Nigeria’s top labels. Nollywood stars can also be seen mixing with tourists at the carnival.
It’s advisable to make early arrangements regarding air tickets and hotel accommodation for the period of the carnival to beat the inevitable rush and increased prices.
Premium and affordable hotels in Calabar are usually sold-out during the carnival.
A smart way to stay ahead of the pack is to book ahead of time on reputable travel portals. One of them, Jumia Travel, is offering discounts for booking ahead of time. Another reason to prepare early for this year’s carnival.