With a population of 177 million people, Nigeria is obviously the largest black nation on Earth; and very rich in cultural heritages that cut across over 250 ethnic tribes and 420 languages. The peoples of Nigeria are aware of their rich cultural diversity, and this is evident in the various traditional festivals put on display across various communities and regions in the country.
Although there are over 200 cultural festivals in the Nigeria (every day is dedicated to a particular festival in Ile-Ife, Osun State), here are top 10 local festivals that you’d like to know about –
1. Eyo Festival
It is not known why some people also refer to it as the Adamu Orisha festival, but the Eyo festival in Lagos Island is a very spectacular celebration that attracts tourists from all over the country. Participants are decked in white clothing, and the main attraction of the festival is the Eyo masquerades who perform in white regalia. They lead a colourful procession through the city, and it is a fabulous celebration to be witnessed to experience the traditional values of the people of Lagos.
2. Calabar Carnival
If you want to witness a procession of colourful dancers performing in street parades, then you must be at the Calabar festival in Cross River State. Here you will see thousands of performers wearing colourful costumes and feathered headdresses that capture the spirit of the celebrative season. This great festival does not only attract Calabar indigenes from all over the world, the state governor and his cabinet and federal ministers of Nigeria are always present to witness the rich, cultural displays of the Calabar people. It lasts for about one week.
3. Lagos/Abuja Carnival
Whether it is the Lagos or Abuja carnival, you are in for a great time if you’re lucky to be in Lagos or Abuja when the festivals kick off. There are series of cultural performances that tell the story of the local people, and that project the vision of the people for their state. Here you witness colourful display of local fashion embellished with the most imaginative costumes. You see participants revelling in the spirit of the occasion and sharing in the memorable parties that attend the celebrations in the evenings.
4. Osun Osogbo Festival
Although every day in any year is dedicated to a deity festival in Ile-Ife, Osun State, the most spectacular celebration of the state is the Osun Osogbo festival that takes place annually in Osogbo, followed by the Olojo festival of Ile-Ife. The Osun Osogbo festival is a celebration dedicated to the Osun river goddess, and during the celebrations people come from all walks of life to offer sacrifice to the river goddess and to make supplications. It is a week-long celebration taking place between July and August in the sacred forest groves of Osun river.
5. Sango Festival
The Sango festival is usually celebrated in Oyo township of Oyo State. It is an annual festival dedicated to Sango, the most powerful deity and one of the ancient Alaafin of the Old Oyo Kingdom in prehistoric times. The festival showcases Sango worshippers eating and breathing fire from their mouths and nostrils, and invoking thunder to strike across the land in the spirit of the fiery, ancient ruler of the Old Oyo peoples.
6. Ojude-Oba Festival
The Ojude-Oba festival takes place in Ijebu-Ode of Ogun State; a cultural activity where the locals and those in the diaspora come home to pay homage to their king, the Awujale of Ijebuland. There is a heavy display of cultural street parades, equestrian showoffs, local song renditions, dane-gun salutes, and a host of other local displays. This festival rides on the ancient diversity, legend, history, and conquest of the old Ijebu peoples. This local event takes place during the annual Ileya festival or the Muslim Eid-el-Kabir celebrations.
7. Ofala Festival
The Ofala festival holds in Anambra State of Nigeria, and it is an annual celebration that sees the Obi of Onitcha and his traditional rulers emerge in full cultural regalia and royal staffs to display bravery, war conquest, affluence, and power among others. It is a celebration that showcases the rich ethnicity of the Igbo people, and an occasion that attracts local indigenes from around the country and beyond to Anambra during the celebrations.
8. Argungu Fishing Festival
The Argungu fishing festival holds annually in Kebbi State, and is a weeklong cultural activity that culminates in a fishing competition at the Argungu river where the fisherman that catches the biggest fish of the year is awarded a prize by the town and the state government. During the fishing competition, able-bodied men jump into the river at the given signal, together with their fishing gourds and nets to hunt for the largest catch of the year. The biggest fish caught is sometimes weighed on a scale.
9. New Yam Festival
The New Yam festival is almost celebrated in all parts of Nigeria but given more prominence in the eastern part of the country. It is a local celebration trends from northern Nigeria through the mid-western states of Benue and Kogi States to Enugu and Cross River States and beyond. During the New Yam festival, no farmer is allowed to eat any new yam harvests until the appointed day when the king observes the ancient culture of the land and then declares eating the new yam harvests open to the people. Local celebrations of cultural dances, acrobatic displays, and masquerade performances attend the festival of the new yam.
10. Durbar Festival
The Durbar festival is largely celebrated in Maiduguri, Kano, Zaria, and Katsina in northern Nigeria. It is the most expressive and popular festival in northern Nigeria. It features horse rides and racing, and enactment of ancient wars fought on horse-backs. The festival is usually attended by the Emirs and their council of chiefs, and is usually a weeklong activity that mostly holds toward the end of the month of Ramadan.