n Nigeria, when it comes to celebrating Christmas at its best, the Akwa Ibom Christmas Carols Festival stands out as the centre of interest as it attracts a huge number of local and international gospel singers and a throng of elated visitors who are ever-present to be ‘lifted’ by the angelic voices of the choir (carol singers).
The event made history in 2011 when it featured an astounding 9,999-member choir, which at the time was the world’s largest Christmas choir. The event was dubbed 9999 Carols Night as a result.
Prior to 2014, a group in the city of Bogota, Colombia, called CENTI held a whooping world record of 15,674 carol singers which was pronounced upon them by the Guinness Book of World Records on the 15th day of December in the year 2013. But, their title came to an end on December 13, 2014, when the same Guinness World Records certified a concert featuring 25,272 carol singers at the Akwa Ibom Stadium in Uyo, Akwa Ibom, Nigeria, with Guinness World Records representatives in attendance, as the world’s largest of such gathering, surpassing the previous holder by a margin of 9,598.
Apart from being a world-record-breaking gathering of Carol Singers, the Akwa Ibom Christmas Carols have become a key outlet for fostering spiritual growth, peaceful coexistence among ethnic, religious, and cultural groups in the state, and spiritual tourism that draws visitors from all over the continent of the world.
In 2008, the Christmas Carol Night in Akwa Ibom, first of its kind, was held, and without further ado, became the world’s largest gathering of carol singers that same year, featuring 9,300 carol singers drawn from the vast Akwa Ibom State’s 31 local government areas for all-inclusive sake. The idea, concept, or initiative was created out of the state government’s desire to make Akwa Ibom a top tourist destination spot for not only Nigerians but the entire continent of the world. And, what better way to doing it other than the “God’s way” that is, organizing a concert, a gathering, a festival that not only entertain, but also serves as an avenue of praise and worship to the Most High in the spirit of the season – Christmas. The vision was clearly given to the then-Governor of the State, Obong Victor Attah, who served his people diligently, and wholeheartedly for a 2-tenure between May 29, 1999, through to May 29, 2007. His vision of a spirit-filled festival did not come to fruition because he had to leave office for the next generation after a successful 2-year tenure as a Governor of the State.
The mantle of power was passed on to his successor, Godswil lAkpabio, on May 29, 2007, and he took it upon himself to making sure that all the thought-out and laid out plans of his predecessor, from infrastructural development, public management, state tourism to what have you, not only see the light but was followed through to the letter, leaving no stone unturned. Thus, the Akwa Ibom Christmas Carol first edition was successfully propelled under the wings of Akpabio in the year 2008. After the maiden edition, the Christmas Carol Concert (turned festival/carnival), has but only grown in leaps and bounds, year after year, with bigger and better international gospel musicians on display in December.
On the 7th day of November 2014, the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium that boasts of a 30,000 seated capacity was inaugurated in the State and exactly 36 days after (December 13), history was made: The Akwa Ibom State choral ensemble once again set a global record for the biggest number of carol singers in one night. Officially verified by the most coveted and prestigious Guinness World Records on Saturday, December 13, 2014, during a concert at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium involving 25,272 carol singers and Guinness World Records executives in attendance.
Emmanuel Udom took over from Akpabio on May 29, 2015, as the new Governor in the State in grand style, and he saw the need to rebrand and relocate the venue of what had turned to not just a household concert but now an international phenomenon with a global audience (viewership included) in their millions. Dubbed AKCAROLSFEST (Akwa Ibom Christmas Carols Festival),
It has evolved in size and reputation to become a glittering celebration of Christian songs, worship, dancing, and fun-filled that is recognized and attended by top artists and worshippers from all over the world. The AKCAROLSFEST 2019 took place on Friday, December 20 at a bigger and larger location — the Ibom Hall Arena, IBB Avenue in Uyo – for its 12th edition.
The spectacular 55,000-square-meter Ibom Hall Arena will allow an unprecedented number of worshippers and visitors who attend the Carols Festival a safe and easy entry to the Carols Festival, with a seating capacity of 42,000, a larger parking area, and multiple pedestrian and car exits.