The month of December is usually agog with local festivals all over the world, and some of these festivals and cultural shows have gained national prominence and started to attract tourists from outside the country.
In most cities and countries of the world, the month of December is characterized by a lot of festivals, carnivals, cultural shows and celebrations, and national programmes among others; and on the individual family level, it the month when people want to move to their new houses, hold their weddings, celebrate anniversaries, and conduct family re-unions among others.
Apart from Christmas which is the most celebrated festive season globally, some local or national celebrations slated only for December in Nigeria will be examined here.
The Carniriv is an annual festival that holds in Port Harcourt in December. It lasts for seven days and is largely characterized by cultural festivities and contemporary Caribbean-style carnival. It started as a local event among cultural groups but it has now evolved to become a government-backed event through the Rivers State Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
2. Ofala Festival
The Ofala festival is also known as Ofala Nnewi, and is celebrated for 2 days in December and January by indigenes of Onitcha, Anambra State. Ofala stands for “ofo” meaning “authority,” and “ala” meaning “land.” The festival holds to honour the land for her increase, and to honour the Obi or king for his rulership.
3. Lekki Sun Splash
The Lekki Sun Splash holds every December 25-26 at the Maiyegun Beach on Lekki Peninsula in Lagos State. It is generally a music festival, and it features up-and-coming as well as renowned artistes from all genres of local music such as Juju, Fuji, gospel, reggae, disco, and highlife among others. The annual Lekki event show attracts at least 100,000 people every year, and it is a programme many Lagosians look forward to.
4. Calabar Festival
The Calabar festival holds every December in Cross River State. It is the most elaborate carnival procession in Nigeria with over 50,000 costumed participants taking part, and over 50,000 tourists from around Africa attending to witness the occasion. It is a weeklong event, and is the next thing to the yearly Rio de Janiero carnival of Brazil. It showcases the cultural fashion of the Calabar and Nigerian people, and hundreds of culture-related programmes endorsed by the state government go together with the annual December celebrations.
5. Ukpe Festival
The Ukpe festival is an annual cultural event that takes place December-January. It is most celebrated with cultural rituals and prayers for prosperity in the Ewossa, Ewohimi, Ewatto, Ebelle, and Ogwa communities of Delta State.
6. Igue/Ewere Festival
The Igue or Ewere festival is an annual cultural event in Benin, Edo State. It takes place during the first half of the month of December in Benin City; and sometimes it is staged to celebrate the yam harvest. Features of the celebrations include costumed dancing, acrobatic displays, battle reenactments, and a procession to the Oba of Benin’s palace where prayers are said and tokens are given.
7. Nwaotam and Oki Festivals
The Nwaotam festival holds in Port Harcourt on December 25 of each year; and the Oki festivals also takes place annually in December in Rivers State. With the Oki festival, celebrants and participants wear fish costumes and perform acts that honor the water goddess and its children or servants the fish.
8. Ogwashi-Uku Carnival
The Ogwashi-Uku carnival is a three-day festival event in Delta State. It takes place every December. It features cultural dance display, football competition, quiz competition, talent hunt, fashion expressions, and a road procession among others. It usually begins on December 24 with a road show, homage to the Ogbe (clans) that make up Ogwashi-Uku kingdom, and entertainment dances; the carnival comes to a head on December 25 with funfair and razzmatazz, colourful vehicular procession, costume display, Olobo masquerade performance, and music night; and December 26 is the gathering of sons and daughters of the land, and carnival dinner night.
9. Benue Youth Cultural Carnival
The Benue Youth Cultural Carnival takes place annually between December 1st-31st. It takes place at a carnival village at IBB Square in Makurdi, and features a beauty pageant contest, a carnival music jam, carnival procession, and lots of feasting and dinner among other social-cultural celebrations and performances.
10. Igbo Uturu Cultural Carnival
The Igbo Uturu Cultural Carnival takes place between December and January of every year. It is observed in Abia State among the Igbo people. It is also a celebration of cultural and society, and it features a lot of dances, performances, re-enactments, processions, and festivities among others.