AS the annual Calabar Carnival concludes its dry run, Cross River State Government, organisers of the tourism event has announced confirmation by 11 countries that will be participating at the event.
They include Vai Vai band from Brazil Acrobatic dancers of Henan, China, Flamenco Dancers of Spain, Flag Twirlers of Italy and Oasis Circus from France.
Others are Belize carnival, Wonder Drummers of Burundi, Ghana National Troupe, Masai dancers of Kenya, cultural Ballet of Rwanda as well as a band from Zimbabwe.
International Consultant to the Carnival, Mr. Ikechi Uko, who confirmed that 11 participating countries said travelling plans have been concluded, even as more countries will join the event, should they secure visas in time.
According to Uko, “What we are trying to do this year is to close the gap between the carnival and its global tourism audience. So, we are bringing in 11 countries to come first hand in their full crew including journalists to see why we claim that we are the best, unique and different in the world.”
He maintained that “Carnival Calabar is a successful product. So far, it’s been successful within Nigeria. It is already Africa’s biggest party. It is done very well but to be able to bring in the tourism dollars, we need to add the flavor that the world expects, to increase tourists presence.”
He noted that Carnival Calabar has grown from a Calabar event to a Nigerian event and now an international carnival with its own flavour and colour. “I must confess, I have participated in other carnivals round the world; the buy in here is total. This food has been tried, tasted and proven and now ready for the world to consume. We welcome the world to come this special delight.”
He said “the result of this year’s carnival will definitely bring the world to come and party in Calabar which will make it more marketable, as that is the basic aim of internationalizing this event.”
The final dry run for the festival, touted as Africa’s biggest street party, was concluded with a test run of the facilities and routes.
The mock carnival witnessed over 10, 000 revelers in a dance parade along the 12 kilometers carnival route to signal their readiness for the big event on December 28.
Also on show were revelers from the five competing bands including Seagull, Freedom, Passion 4, Bayside and Masta Blasta, who displayed the latest dance steps with energy and panache.
Speaking before the show took off at the Millennium Park, Cross River State Governor, Prof Ben Ayade who was represented by his Deputy, Prof. Ivara Esu, stated that arrangement was in top gear to host the much anticipated carnival, promising a hitch-free event with international flavour.
Esu who was wowed by the crowd at the mock event said: “I am so excited at the large turnout of the bands’ revelers in this last dry run. It is as if we are doing the carnival proper. This has definitely spurred us to put in more energy and resources to package this event in anticipation for the huge crowd that will grace this year’s carnival.
“We are using this dry run to announce to the world that we are ready to host them and to also see where we have not done enough to correct them so as to host an event that will be enjoyed by participants and its audience globalyl,” he added.
Chairman Carnival Commission, Mr. Gabe Onah, announced the programme of events to include Cultural parade which will hold on December 22, as December 26 is night for the king and queen’s contest, Green ball isDecember 27, while the grand finale which is the carnival proper is scheduled for 28, with the International competition at the U.J. Esuene Stadium on the 29th.

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