BY ANDREW IRO OKUNGBOWA
THE tide of entertainment is rising to its crescendo with various leisure spots and entertainment merchants across the country beckoning on families and fun seekers to savour the best of the Yuletide.
In Calabar, Cross River State, the heat is already on with 32 days dedicated to entertainment in the yearly Calabar Festival, which is gradually running its course. Take a trip to the ‘Canaan City’ to feel the entertainment.
About 18 different local and international artistes such as Ron Kenoly, Sammie Okposo, D’banj, P- Square and Blakky, among others, are featuring.
The festival climaxes on December 27, with the staging of Carnival Calabar. This year’s carnival has been enriched in scope and format with the inclusion of traditional five bands – Passion 4, Bayside, Seagull, freedom and Master blaster — to complement over 16 non - competing bands that will take the carnival route of about 24 kilometres.
Also parts of the package are the Christmas Eve and Christmas Day activities as well as the children’s carnival, which is fixed for December 26. Also, fun is visiting the carnival village for different treats ranging from eating out to shopping and being entertained by theatrical performances of different troupes and artistes from across the country.
Besides the festival blues, a tour of the city itself provides an exciting experience for visitors as well. Some of the places to see include the Old Residency for a view of various artifacts and relics that are play back of the historical, political, cultural and socio –economic appeal of the city, which once served as the capital city of Southern Protectorate.
Duke Town and the Old Town also come with their different allures. With avid tour guide, the mystery and history of these towns are made to come alive to enlivened any visitor. Qua Vista Farm and Resort located in Southern end of the city is another appealing site with its natural ambience. It comes with a refreshing and serenading allure missing in the cities.
Enjoy spot fishing, storytelling, traditional games, and a cruise on the Calabar creek through the Calabar, Marina resort, Tinapa and even as far as Nwaniba – the home of Le Meridien Ibom Hotel and Golf Resort.
Of course, you can’t miss out on the specialty of the resort – fish, which can be grilled and seasoned with all sorts of spices to your taste. Here, seafood takes on a different meaning as majority of people in the city come here for ‘fish party,’ because of the special way it is prepared.
Conservationists and those seeking communion with nature should take a trip to Cross Rivers National Park in either the Oban or Okwange sector and be treated to different species of flora and fauna such as the elephant and monkey among others.
Afi Wildlife Sanctuary at the heart of Afi Mountain, one of the remaining crusts of primary forest that the state boasts of, is one enclave to enjoy a wilderness safari and interact with primates such as chimpanzees and drill monkeys, which are one of the world’s most endangered species and.
Kwa and Agbokin falls are compelling view and sites for family picnic as well as communing with nature while Ikom monoliths among others in Ikom, some distance from Calabar opens door to the creative impulse of the forebears of the people.
Obudu Mountain Resort, the rolling plateaus of Obudu also beckons those seeking a resting place to enjoy temperate weather and be serenaded by misty cloud. Every bit of stay in this resort is an experience to cherish with a lot of top range facilities and leisure ambience to play with.
Down the mountain top is Utange Lodge and Safari, which also comes with its own attraction. Children, teenagers and youths in the company of adults can actually roam freely here. African Sun Limited, which runs both the resort and lodge, should be able to treat visitors to their signature leisure offerings.
ENUGU,the city, sure prides itself as an interesting spot to harvest leisure. Some of the traditional spots to visit include the Polo Club, Michael Okpara Square and the Museum. A trip to Abakpe , Nike section of the city is also recommended — where the main attraction is Nike Lake Resort.
The refurbished resort, which now enjoys the eclectic touch of African Sun Limited, offers variety and rich blend of entertainment options to visitors. Cruising and spot fishing on the lake are twosome activities to experience.
Olona Ranch in Onicha Olona, Delta State, is a private resort run by Mr. Joseph Bogwu. It is a natural getaway resort for anyone seeking un-interrupted season’s break. Here, one is left to celebrate and savour nature in its pristine form. The make-up reminds one of the kinds of farm resort found in places like Texas or South Africa, where in the middle of a forest one comes across a resort that is hidden from the preening world. Some of the activities to engage one’s attention include horse riding, safari, smooching in natural pool and swimming pool, roaming in the orchard and a treat to local cuisine and drinks with fresh palm wine as a specialty.
Albert Esiri’s (one of Nigerians finest polo players and developer of the sport) Tuft Club in Oria - Abraka is another enclave to feel the pulse of nature and its creative resources. Explore the array of exotic, plush and enticing amenities of different degrees.
Enjoy nature trail and boat cruise on Ethiope River, horse riding, polo game, card game, table tennis, snooker game. You can also enrich your knowledge with best sellers and other related subjects from the library, best of foods and drinks from the restaurant and bar as well as rollicking moment at the gazebo.
While in Asaba, you would find Sunny Odogwu’s Grand Hotel and Conference Centre a good fun spot. Besides, the good food and drinks, the natural ambience that comes with the refreshing flow of River Niger is a welcome relief to the nerves as well as the live band dishing out different signature tunes that could keep one dancing for a long time.
Asaba recreational park on Osadebe Road is another good spot for family relaxation and picnic while Demas Kitchen and Leisure Garden are other spots that can’t be ignored. Here you have a feel of local delicacies and some drinks along Richard Lander Brothers Anchorage at the river bank.
Solomon Lar Amusement Park, Jos, is a family ground for relaxation and picnic. Jos Amusement Park and Zoological Garden is a good spot to reconnect with nature and feast on various species in their captive enclosure. Mado Tourist Village provides a natural succour, too, just as Kurra International Tourist Centre with its natural elements.
Rayfield Resort and Rayfield Polo Club both located in the serene area of Rayfield are worth visiting for season’s breaks, especially the resort, which provides ample relaxation facilities ranging from water related leisure to indoor activities.
Healthy Body Clinic (HBC) Resort located in the peaceful axis of Vom road is a fascinating resort to visit with its blend of natural and contemporary beauties. It has on the bill, this season, special offers for the family’s delight.
Some of the things to enjoy at the resort include a 50 per cent discount on the rooms from December 23 to January 5, 2010 alongside breakfast, lunch and dinner buffets. Other flavour include musical and cultural performances; barbeque and entertainment at the poolside; lakeside and orchard as well as football and volley competition between daddies and mummies.
IN the heartland of the East – Imo State, this is about the peak period for the traditional gathering of the kindred in all the communities. So, there is bound to be plenty of cultural fun fair within the villages while within the major cities such as Owerri Imo Concorde Hotel and All Seasons Hotel are some of the few hospitality homes to savour a blend of continental and local feasting.
Oguta, the ancestral home of Nigerian musical maverick and ‘Area Fada,’ Charly Boy comes with its special appeal as it is home to the once famous Oguta Motel and Golf Resort. The resort may not be at its best, however, the natural environment still has a compelling appeal.
This is the likely scenario in most of the eastern states where traditional home coming of loved ones and family members is cherished.
IN Port Harcourt, the harp generated by CARNIRIV ’09 , which has just been concluded is yet to clear, so, expect to see a heightened affairs at most of the leisure centres within the ‘Garden City’ and its environs. The cultural centre at Obiwali remains a veritable fun harvest spot.
Port Harcourt Beach Resort, Buguma, beckons fun seekers to it entrails for musical, cultural and water related entertainment such as boat cruise with a lot of sea foods to the bargain while Port Harcourt Zoological Garden on Trans – Amadi Layout still has some sparkles to attract children and adults.