Festivals are exciting times because they unite people for a shared goal and foster a festive and joyful mood. Nigeria, a nation with a diversified cultural background, has a long history of festivals and festivities. The most well-known festivals in Nigeria are listed here for tourists who want to visit the most populous nation in Africa.
The Eyo celebration is famously observed by the Yoruba community in Lagos. Other tribes and tourists frequently join in on the celebration of the historic event in Lagos, Nigeria because it has grown so famous over the years.
The natives, sometimes referred to as “Isale Eko,” celebrate “Eyo,” a cultural and traditional masquerade show that leaves the Iga (palace) of the Oba (king) or one of his cabinet members. The enjoyable events included on this unique occasion have been attested to by several people. As a result, it has been called one of Nigeria’s most well-known cultural events.
New Yam Festival
One of the most important cultural celebrations in Nigeria is the New Yam Festival. The Idoma, Igbo, Yoruba, and other tribes in Nigeria frequently participate in this yearly traditional celebration.
The people of Nigeria’s Middle Belt, South, and East pay close attention to this festival, which typically occurs around the beginning of August at the conclusion of the rainy season.
It serves as a point of connection amongst Igbo villages and also represents an abundance of food. Typically, this is a time when the locals honor nature and express their thankfulness to God for his providence.
Ojude Oba Festival
Another significant celebration is observed in Ijebu. It is one that the indigenous people utilize to express gratitude to the governing monarch. This custom dates back to 1892, when the country’s ruling monarch permitted the establishment of houses of worship by other religions including Islam and Christianity. As a result, this time is utilized to express gratitude and to further their cultural values.
Egungun festival is one of Nigeria’s most well-known cultural events. This is typical of Nigeria’s south-western states. The traditional religion of the Yoruba people includes the Egungun celebration.
The event, which is frequently observed by the Egbas, Egbados, Oyo, and other communities in southwest Nigeria, is held to commemorate the passing of notable individuals. With the conviction that their ancestor shouldn’t have to suffer in the rain, the festival is often an annual event held from November to April when there is no rain. It is also recognized as one of Nigeria’s most important cultural events.
Igbo people of southeast Nigeria hold an annual event called Ofala Festival. The palace of the Oba (traditional ruler) is the site of this vibrant cultural celebration. It is a celebration of the ruler’s power and legitimacy, and it is often conducted on the anniversary of his accession to the throne or, in certain locations, during the peak of the New Yam Festival, a harvest festival. The traditional leader can interact with his people and show appreciation for their devotion through ofala. The festival’s highlights include visitors who come to honor the King with presents, traditional dances, and regional feasts. Locals as well as tourists from all over the world go to the Ofala Festival.
The biggest carnival in West Africa, the Lagos Carnival, takes place during the Lagos Black Heritage Festival. The “emancipados” (emancipated slaves) and their descendants from Brazil, Cuba, and West African nations like Sierra Leone and Liberia introduced the Carnival more than a century ago. Returnees brought a strong carnival culture with them, which over time developed into the current form of Lagos Carnival. The celebration features vibrant costumes, lively music, and street dances that highlight the culture of Lagosians. In order to brighten the event, traditional kings often appear dressed in full regalia.
In most of the northern areas of Nigeria, the Durbar Festival, also known as Hawan Daushe in Hausa, is observed twice a year as a part of the celebrations at the conclusion of Ramadan and Eid-ul-Kabir. The Emir (the traditional ruler) is the final horseman in a procession of horsemen wearing bright regalia as they enter the parade area. In a demonstration of bravery to honor the Emir, visitors may observe riders prance or gallop about on their mounts while waving swords.
Along with horses, other animals like as baboons, hyenas, and camels are also decorated and put on display at the Durbar. The entire event is filled with traditional dances and drumming sessions featuring trumpets and flutes. Additionally, visitors may buy a variety of regional dishes and refreshments while watching jesters, acrobats, and stunt acts. The Jahi race, which takes place during the Durbar, is its centerpiece. Several riders compete for the Emir’s attention while galloping past him on their horses at great speed before abruptly turning aside and raising their swords or flags.
Calabar Carnival, dubbed the biggest carnival in Africa, is a must-attend occasion for guests and tourists. The carnival, a month-long festival that showcases African culture via music, dance, theatre, and fashion in a riot of vibrant hues, first took place in 2004 as a way to draw tourists to the city of Calabar. Thousands of people from all over the world come to the event as participants and spectators.
In line with the traditional calendars of the community, masquerades (Mmanwu) are held at festivals, yearly celebrations, funeral rituals, and other social occasions. The masquerades are dressed in vibrant gowns and cloth or wood masks. While the majority of masks occur at several or all festivals, some only appear at one. Masquerades are linked to supernatural components because, in Igbo religion, they represent gods or, occasionally, even deceased relatives. The masquerade’s identity is kept a mystery, and only males take part in it. Most Igbo villages hold an annual masquerade celebration called ogbako mmanwu (gathering of masquerades) when masquerades congregate in village squares or open fields to amuse spectators. The Enugu State-organized yearly masquerade festival in November, which features masquerade ensembles from all throughout the state, is notable among the masquerade festivals.
Gidi Culture Festival
Gidi Culture Festival honors the music, cuisine, and games of urban youth culture. The one-day festival offers bands, DJs, and musical performers of all experience levels the chance to play. Gidi Culture Fest, a spinoff of the long-gone Lekki Sound Splash, which had Fela Kuti as its headliner, debuted in 2014 with Nigerian performers. Since then, the festival has featured musicians from Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, Congo, and the United Kingdom. Every year during Easter, generally on a Saturday, Gidi Culture Fest is celebrated.
Annually, the Yoruba people of Nigeria celebrate Sango Festival in honor of Sango, a thunder and fire deity who succeeded his older brother Ajaka as the third ruler of the Oyo Empire and was a warrior. The celebration, which was renamed the World Sango celebration in 2013 by the Oyo State administration, is typically held in August at the Alaafin of Oyoand’s palace.
Igo Aro Festival
To kick off the annual planting season, Igu Aro festivities are held in several Anambra villages. The Aro festival, also known as the “Igu aro,” is one of the most vibrant and well-attended events in Igbo nation, especially in Umueri. Due to the financial significance associated to the festival, it has a prominent place in the lives of the populace. Due to the fact that the Priest’s Oracular and Prophetic utterances predict what will occur each year.
This included the priest’s oracular pronouncements on what to anticipate during the harvest season, such as whether there would be “Ugani” (famine), “Nsogbu” (problems), “Agha” (war), “Onwu” (death), etc. It served as a form of yearly prophecy or forecast about what would happen in the upcoming season. People prefer to work tirelessly hard to gain the rewards of their labor if the prophesy proves to have a favorable outcome. However, beginning with the first moon of the new season, they have a tendency to be careful during the planting season.
Argungu Fishing Festival
The state of Kebbi, in the Northern region of Nigeria, hosts the annual four-day Argungu Fishing Festival or Argungu Dance Festival. Swimming contests, bare-handed fishing, canoe races, and wild duck hunts are side events of the Argungu Fishing festival. Anxious participants attempt to outdo one another as music, drumming, and dance fill the air in an effort to land the greatest catch. The festival’s winner is widely praised, there is joy in the communities, and the river is protected so that it will provide fish for the following festival.
The annual Rivers State Carnival, popularly referred to as Carniriv, serves to highlight the rich cultural history of the residents of Rivers State, Nigeria. The Carniriv is special because it combines two separate carnival traditions: the traditional carnival, which showcases the culture of several indigenous communities in the state, and the contemporary carnival, which is in the Caribbean manner. The state of Rivers, often known as the “land of a thousand masquerades,” is a mash-up of many different civilizations, whose combined heritage creates a rich and enjoyable event. The Garden City Freestyle Parade, the International Heritage Parade, and the kid’s carnival are among the parades that take place at the carnival. Every December, the occasion incorporates both domestic and foreign musicians.
Due to the rich cultural variety and past of Nigeria, the nation hosts a number of vibrant traditional and cultural festivals that highlight the long history of its citizens. Nigeria is an attractive travel destination because, in addition to traditional celebrations, there are several festivals and events that highlight and promote Nigerian art. If you ever find yourself in or near one of these cities during one of these festivals, go and immerse yourself in the locals’ vibrant cultures.