These festivals date to the period before the arrival of the major religions in this ethnically and culturally diverse society.
And there’ no better way to explore and experience Nigeria’s rich cultural heritage than joining in the colorful celebration at the cultural festivals.
We have selected 10 colorful cultural festivals in Nigeria that wouldn’t just captivate your mind but teach you a thing or two about this country of over 200 million people.
1. Eyo Festival
Some people call it the Adamu Orisha Play, a Yoruba festival that transforms the commercial Lagos Island to a stunning white parade. There’s just something about the color white, fusing it into a festival makes it more interesting. It’s attracted thousands of tourists from around the world who’ve come to see costumed dancers or masquerades called ‘Eyo’ performing during the festival.
Though most major roads are closed I bet you it’s worth it. It is strongly believed that Eyo Festival is a forerunner of the world biggest carnival in the world, the Rio de Janeiro Carnival.
2. Calabar Carnival
No festival in Africa has beaten the Calabar Carnival with its awesome dance performances. It showcases a celebration of creativity and culture fused with traditional and modern lifestyle of the people of Cross River State. The festival started in 2006 and has been grown bigger and better. If you haven’t been here then you’re definitely on a long thing!
3. Lagos Carnival
Though sharing similarities with the Calabar Carnival, the Lagos Carnival has its own unique features. It’s Lagos!!!!! Considered to be one of the most vibrant places in Africa, you literarily feel the excitement in the air even before the carnival kicks off yearly. Revellers are seen travelling from different parts of the world to experience this carnival.
4. Osun Festival
We leave the comfort of the bustling city life to experience one of the most regarded cultural festivals in Nigeria. The months of July and August are best reserved every year should you want to experience the thrilling event. Off to the Sacred Forest of Osun, in a one week colorful festival to honor and reverence the river goddess, Oshun of Osun State, it’s widely believed that anyone who visits the river during the festival gets their problems solved. Now that’s interesting.
5. Sango Festival
Pretty much experience for anyone who has ever come to Sango Festival, this festival is in the honor of Sango the all-powerful god in Yoruba land. This festival has facilitated an annual home-coming avenue for Yoruba descents in the Diaspora as a form of pilgrimage. It brings back the past history and celebrates the culture and tradition of the people, while creating wealth and employment for the people.
6. Ojude Oba Festival
Ojude Oba festival is a cultural heritage that is woven from threads of diversity, history, legend and conquest. ‘The King’s front year’ is the literal meaning of Ojuda Oba. The people of Ijebu Ode return en masse to pay their homage to the king, the Awujale of Ijebuland. This takes place on the third day of the Ileya Festival, (Eid-el-Kabir). This festival includes parades, traditional songs, equestrian skill display and lots more.
For seven days, few weeks before Christmas in the city of Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria, the Port Harcourt Carnival a combination of two carnivals in one; a contemporary Caribbean style carnival and a cultural carnival changes the ‘Garden City into a beautiful flower garden. Carniriv is Rivers State’s biggest tourism export.
8. Ofala Festival
The Ofala Festival is held in Anambra State where the Obi of Onitsha, Dr Alfred Nnaemeka Achebe and traditional rulers who are adorned in their ‘red caps,’ royal regalia wielding the traditional staffs paint the whole place red in colorful parades and display of affluence and power.
9. Argungu Fishing Festival
You may have experienced some fascinated water activities around the world but if you have not been to Argungu fishing festival, your list is totally incomplete. The alluring dynamics of the festival, the exciting spectators, and the anxious competitors who are ready to jump inside the river to begin their search for the biggest fish make this fishing festival extraordinary and beautiful.
10. New Yam Festivals
One festival I grew up hearing about is the New Yam Festival; from the Leboku in Ugep, Cross River State to the Iriji-Mmanwu festival in Enugu State, the festival is celebrated in pomp and cultural display. Hundreds of masquerades, dancers in beautiful attires, acrobatic displays and traditional activities makes it one festival you dare not miss.