Nigeria is a land of many customs and traditions which has become a part of life for the locals living in the region. The country is one of the most popular destinations amongst international travellers. And as many travellers have made it clear, that travelling to Nigeria is NOT for the faint of heart. The city has robust traditions and cultures. And bolder festivals to celebrate these customs. Nigerian people are popular for knowing how to party. And the similar trait is visible in their enthusiasm for celebrating their traditional and colourful festivals in Nigeria. Below is an interesting read on a list of traditional and colourful festivals in Nigeria and why one can only find them in this country.
Top Festival In Nigeria
1. Lagos Theatre Festival
Of all the festivals in Nigeria, the Lagos Theatre Festival is the first one to hit the country in the month of March. It is one of the most important cultural festivals and also the most colourful festival in Nigeria. The reason the festival holds so much importance is because of the national coverage that event gets. And it allows the local artists to showcase their traditions and customs through theatre. A myriad of different traditions and cultures are enacted through plays, dance and musical performances. Making the festival popular amongst travellers.
2. Eyo Festival
The next festival in Nigeria to grace the hearts of Nigerians and tourists alike is the cultural festival of Eyo. The festival may not be the most colourful festival in Nigeria. But, it is one festival that piques the interest of anyone witnessing the festival for the first time. The festival is actually a fake festival that the locals believe takes away the sickness and poverty while bringing in prosperity and wisdom. The masqueraders don white regalia while wearing decorated hats of colours that depict their tribe.
3. Lagos International Jazz Festival
This festival in Nigeria is more of a music rave than a festival. The festival witnesses international and local artists coming to Lagos to perform at the festival. The festival is organised in a way that coincides with International Jazz Day. Which is on April 30 of every year. International jazz artists like Mike Aremu, Jermaine Jackson and Lekan Babalola have been known for gracing the festival with their presence. Making the festivals a haven for jazz musicians and jazz music lovers from all over the world.
4. Lagos Carnival
The next one on the list of colourful festivals in Nigeria is the most popular carnival in all of West Africa. The carnival began over a century ago and was brought by the “Emancipados” (emancipated slaves) that came in from countries like Sierra Leone, Brazil, Cuba and other West African countries. These immigrants were lucky to come under the influence of certain South American traditions which later spread across the African continent. One such festival is the Lagos Carnival. It’s a perfect depiction of the great carnival that takes place in Brazil, but with an African twist to it. The carnival welcomes all including the local tribal rulers. Who don their tribal regalia and add to the radiance and honour to the carnival.
Month: Between November to April (when there is no rain)
5. New Yam Festival
The New Yam festival in Nigeria witnesses the yam crop as the king of crops as a part of the Igbo culture. The festival takes place any day between August and October. While also marking the harvest and the beginning of the planting season for a new batch of yams. All yam’s from the previous year’s production is eaten or made use of in the fields before the festive day. While the fresh produce is eaten on the day of the festival, in the form of several different yam dishes. The event lasts for a whole week where prayers and yam are given to the king or the eldest of the community. The festival also witnesses several other events like masquerades, beauty pageants and even fashion shows.
6. Durbar Festival
The next one on the list of festivals in Nigeria is the Durbar festival, also known as ‘Hawan Daushe’ in the Hausa language. The festival takes place two times a year as a part of the festivities of Ramadan and Eid-ul-Kabir. This festival is one of the most colourful festivals to take place in Northern Nigeria. The festival witnesses horsemen wearing regalia of different colours and patterns representing their tribe. The horsemen line up and form a parade which eventually enters a massive ground with Emir (the traditional ruler) entering, in the end, wearing the royal robes. The most important event of the festival is the Jahi race. Which witnesses the horsemen race towards the Emir at full speed and suddenly leave their track in a direction away from Emir. And while this happens each horseman raises their sword or flag to honour the ruler.
7. Osun Festival
The next festival on the list of festivals in Nigeria is the Osun festival. The festival is an annual celebration that takes place in the month of August to honour the goddess ‘Osun’ (the goddess of fertility). The Osun festival has seen visitors not just from Africa, but from all over the globe for many decades now. The festival goes on for twelve days and takes place at the Osun Sacred Grove. Which are home to a dense forest and several sanctuaries, sculptures, shrines and other forms of artwork. These artefacts exist in honour of the goddess and other deities. The Osun river is held in high regard, due to the belief that the goddess ‘Osun’ herself resides in the river that flows through the forest.
8. Ojude Oba
The term Ojude Oba translates to “king’s front yard” and rightly so is to honour Awujale, the main leader of the Ijebu-Ode in Nigeria. The festival first took place in 1892 when Awujale gave a massive piece of land to the Muslims for building a mosque. The leader also gave land to British missionaries where they built the first church in Ijebu. The festival eventually began as a religious festival by the Muslims. But, over the years the festival has become popular with every from the Ijebu region. The festival attracts several travellers from all corners of the planet and is one of the most colourful festivals in Nigeria. From beauty pageants to warriors on horseback, the festival has a lot to offer.
9. Ofala Festival
The Ofala festival is an annual festivity by the Igbo people in southeastern Nigeria. The cultural and colourful festival in Nigeria takes place at the Palace of the Oba, who is their traditional ruler. The festival is a celebration of the ruler’s authority and happens on the anniversary of the king’s ascension to the throne. Or in some scenarios at the climax of the New Yam festival. Ofala is the means by which the traditional ruler appreciates the loyalty of his subjects and even socializes with them. The festival sees the people coming to the king’s palace to pay homage with gifts, cultural dances and massive feasts.
10. Calabar Carnival
The last one on the list of festivals in Nigeria is the Calabar festival, which is one of Africa’s largest carnivals. The carnival first took place in the year 2004 and since then has garnered massive popularity amongst international travellers. The event was to jump-start the tourism sector in Calabar, which saw the event go on for a month. The festival features African culture through music, dance, drama, fashion and transform the carnival into the most colourful festival in Nigeria. The festival is responsible for attracting a huge crowd of both performers and spectators every single year. Making the event one of the largest and the most successful ones in Nigeria.