The Calabar Carnival festival in Nigeria, also tagged "Africa’s Biggest Street Party", was founded as part of the vision of making the Cross River State in Nigeria the main tourist destination for Nigerians and tourists worldwide. The carnival period which is the entire month of December has boosted the cultural mosaic of the Nigerian people, while entertaining the millions of spectators. The carnival has also created financial benefits for industry for all stakeholders.
The Calabar Carnival has made great progress since it was initiated in 2004. The ruling governor of Cross River State, Donald Duke in 2004, had a desire to make his state the hub for tourism and hospitality in Nigerian and in Africa. The Carnival presents a perfect platform for consumers and business owners to create and strengthen brand awareness and loyalty, thereby, generating revenues to the community As suggested by Osima-Dokubo, “The carnival aimed to include more aspects of local heritage and culture as well as strengthen the capacity of the locals to participate in an economically beneficial way."
Since its inception the Calabar carnival and Cross River State have grown to be the pride of Nigeria terms of tourism, carnivals, and the hospitality industry.
The schedule and format of the Carnival are drafted annually by the governing committee in charge of tourism and cultural activities. In December 2009, the Carnival committee introduced "Carnival Cup 2009", a football competition amongst the five competing carnival bands.
The Festival composition of the Carnival includes: music performance from both local and international artists, Boat regatta, Fashion shows, Christmas Village, traditional dances, and the annual Ekpe Festival a yearly event that brings in many thousands of tourists.
Other activities lined up for the year according to their work plan, include the second edition of Essay Writing Competition which will involve both secondary school and tertiary students, and this will commence in few weeks. These competitions are aimed at resuscitating the reading culture amongst the youths of the State along with inculcating the carnival culture.
The celebration has hosted top Nigeria musicians, Nolly-wood Actors, Politicians and international artists. Annually, international artists like, the late Lucky Dube, Akon, Fat Joe, Young Jeezy, Nelly, Kirk Franklin, and many others have thrilled large crowds of Nigerians and tourists.