With a population of about 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.
1. Eyo Festival
Witness one of the most unique and fabulous celebrations in Nigeria. Some people called it the Adamu Orisha Play, a Yoruba festival that transforms the commercial Lagos Island to be stunning white. It attracts thousands of tourists from around the world who come to see costumed dancers or masquerades called ‘Eyo’ who perform during the festival. The processions are colourful and a lot of major roads are closed. 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 can ever beat this Calabar Festival when it comes to amazing performances. This is the celebration of creativity and culture that blends with both the traditional and modern lifestyle of the people of Cross River State. The long feathered headdresses, the colourful costumes, the mesmerizing dancers and dance steps, the street parades and the bands attract thousands of people to it.
3. Lagos Carnival
This is just so colourful. Like the Calabar Carnival but slightly different, Lagos Carnival is one of the most vibrant parties in Nigeria. You can 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. You can join in the fun of the Carnival. Make new friends and share those memorable moments with family and friends.
4. Osun/Oshogbo Festival
We leave the comfort of the bustling city life to experience one of the most regarded cultural festivals in Nigeria. It usually takes place in the month of July and August every year. Off to the Sacred Forest of Osun, in a one week colourful festival to honour and reverence the river goddess, Oshun of Osun State, people come here to get their solutions to their problems.
5. Sango Festival
Pretty much experience for anyone who has ever come to Sango Festival, this festival is in the honour 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, The Port Harcourt Carnival which combines two carnivals; a contemporary Caribbean style carnival and a cultural carnival changes the ‘Garden City to become very colourful. 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 and royal regalia with their traditional staffs paint the whole place red with their 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 may not be complete. 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 that is celebrated around the country 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 fetish activities make it one festival that you should not miss.
11. Durbar Festival
12. SHARO/SHADI FESTIVAL
The Sharo (also called Shadi) Festival is celebrated among the Jafun Fulani. Referred to as the Flogging Competition, it is a traditional rite for young men. The participants are escorted by girls to the event venue and led into a ring formed by spectators, their chests exposed. They are not allowed to wear shirts or cover the upper part of their bodies. The drumming, singing and cheers of the crowd combine to create an atmosphere of excitement.
Each participant is flogged by another and they are expected to endure the pain for as long as the exercise lasts, to demonstrate and prove their manhood. However, not all the young men are able to endure the excruciating pain; which at times leaves permanent scars on their bodies. Those who do endure to the end are certified mature and free to choose a girl to marry.
13. Igue festival
Igue festival is a celebration with its origin in the Benin Empire. It was originally celebrated as a festival to renew Oba Ewuare’s magical powers. One tradition state that the festival date coincided with the marriage of Ewuare to a wife named Ewere.Celebrated between Christmas and New Year, the festival includes the Oba’s blessing of the land and his people. During the Igue ritual season, the Oba is prohibited from being in the presence of any non-native person.