Attending one of the various festivals held throughout the year is one of the finest ways to explore Nigeria’s rich and diverse cultural history. These festivals provide a unique window into Nigeria’s history, culture, and traditions, from vibrant street parades to traditional celebrations of local customs and beliefs.
Attending a festival in Nigeria is a once-in-a-lifetime event that will deepen your understanding of the nation’s rich cultural legacy, whether you are a native or guest.
So take in Nigeria’s bustling festival scene’s sights, sounds, and smells! This is a list of the top 5 festivals that occur each year nationwide.
The Lagos Carnival, commonly called the Eko Carnival, is an annual carnival in Lagos, generally around April. Visitors come from across the nation and abroad to the carnival, which honors the city’s culture and traditions.
The carnival includes street celebrations, musical performances, dancing acts, and parades of floats and costumes. With participants dressed in extravagant costumes that reflect many themes and cultures, the streets of Lagos are turned into a sea of color.
The Children’s Parade, the Eyo Festival, the Boat Regatta, and the Carnival Grand Parade are the many sections of the carnival. The Eyo Festival is a traditional Yoruba celebration that commemorates the ancestors, whereas the Children’s Parade is a particular event for children.
The festival’s highlight, the Carnival Main Parade, which includes marching bands, dancers, and extravagant floats, displays boats painted with vibrant flags and ribbons.
The Lagos Carnival offers companies a chance to promote their goods and services in addition to being a celebration of culture and custom. Local food sellers serve a range of delectable Nigerian cuisine together with the crafts of local artists.
The Lagos Carnival is a must-see for anyone visiting Lagos, especially those interested in Nigerian culture and traditions. It is a festival that promotes unity, diversity, and the rich cultural heritage of the city.
The masquerades, or dressed-up dancers, who perform at the event are also referred to as “Eyo”. This Festival originated in the inner workings of Lagos’s covert groups. The Eyo festival was historically staged to usher in a new king or queen and to accompany Lagos’s departed chief or monarch. Many people believe that the performance serves as an illustration of the traditional African Festival that existed before the current carnival in Brazil.
On Eyo Day, traffic is prohibited on the major thoroughfare that runs through the city’s center from Tinubu Square to the end of Carter Bridge so that a procession can travel from Idumota to the Iga Idunganran palace.
The Yoruba term “agogoro Eyo” (literally, “tall Eyo”) for the white-clad Eyo masquerades, which symbolize the spirits of the deceased, is “tall Eyo.”
The celebration includes a large parade with people wearing long, flowing robes that cover their entire bodies, top hats, and sticks; “Eyo” masquerades; and costumed dancers.
Paying respects to the Oba of Lagos is also one of the Festival’s primary goals. The 24-day Festival encompasses the whole city, concentrating on Lagos Island, and draws a sizable number of visitors from all over the world.
The Osun-Osogbo Festival
The Osun-Osogbo Festival is a two-week-long annual cultural event held in Osogbo, Osun State, in southwestern Nigeria. The festival is held in honor of the river goddess, Osun, attracting thousands of visitors from within Nigeria and worldwide.
The festival starts with the Iwopopo, a traditional cleansing ceremony, and the lighting of the 500-year-old sixteen-point lamp called Ina Olujumerindinlogun, which signifies the beginning of the festival. The festival also includes various cultural performances such as music, dance, and theatre and a traditional marketplace where visitors can purchase local crafts and products.
One of the most significant events during the festival is the Arugba ritual, where a young virgin girl, known as the Arugba, carries the calabash containing the offerings to the river. The Arugba symbolizes purity, and her selection is considered a great honor.
Another highlight of the Osun-Osogbo festival is the procession of the Ataoja of Osogbo, the king of the town, and his entourage. The king wears special regalia, and his procession is accompanied by music and dance performances.
The festival provides an opportunity for visitors to experience the rich cultural heritage of the Yoruba people, and it is an excellent opportunity to learn about their traditions, customs, and beliefs. The festival also promotes unity and cultural exchange among different ethnic groups in Nigeria and beyond.
The Osun-Osogbo Festival is a unique cultural event that is worth experiencing. It offers a glimpse into the rich history and culture of the Yoruba people and provides an opportunity to witness some of the most spectacular traditional rituals and ceremonies in Nigeria.
The Calabar Carnival is a month-long cultural carnival held in Calabar, the capital city of Cross River State, in southeast Nigeria. One of the largest street celebrations in Africa, the carnival typically takes place in December and draws tens of thousands of tourists from Nigeria and other countries.
Carnival Night, one of the most outstanding activities during the Calabar Carnival, features dance performances by well-known Nigerian performers, pyrotechnics, and music concerts. A food fair and fashion display highlighting the newest Nigerian fashion trends are also included in the carnival. Visitors may sample numerous Nigerian dishes at the food fair.
The Calabar Carnival is an occasion for companies to promote their goods and services while celebrating culture and heritage. A range of excellent Nigerian cuisine is available from food sellers who showcase their goods.
The Calabar Carnival is an excellent opportunity for visitors to experience the rich cultural heritage of Nigeria and Africa. It is a festival that promotes unity, diversity, and the creative talents of the Nigerian people.
New Yam Festival
The New Yam Festival, also known as Iri Ji Ohuru or Iwa Ji, is a cultural festival celebrated annually by various communities and ethnic groups in Nigeria, particularly in the southeastern region. The festival usually takes place between August and October and is a celebration of the yam harvest, considered the most important crop in many parts of Nigeria.
The festival is a time of thanksgiving and feasting, as the yam is believed to be the king of crops and a symbol of prosperity, fertility, and abundance. The festival usually begins with a ceremony to mark the end of the previous year’s harvest and the start of a new one. The first yam is cut and offered to the gods as a symbol of gratitude and respect.
The festival includes various cultural activities such as music, dance, and drama performances. There are also classic wrestling matches, other sporting events, beauty contests, and masquerade displays.
One of the highlights of the New Yam Festival is the Iri Ji Mmanwu ceremony, which involves the display of colorful masquerades. The masquerades, believed to be ancestors’ spirits, are an essential part of the festival and are said to bring good luck and protection to the community.
Another significant aspect of the festival is the sharing of yams, which are often cooked in various ways and served with different types of soup or sauce. The yam is usually cut into small pieces and shared among family members, friends, and guests, as a sign of hospitality and goodwill.
The New Yam Festival is an essential cultural event that promotes unity, tradition, and community development. It is a time for reflection, thanksgiving, and sharing, and it celebrates the important role of agriculture in the development of Nigerian society.
Have a great time!