A Compendium of Calendars of Festivals in Nigeria
Igbo Uturu Cultural Festival – Abia State
This festival of colour and glamour also known as ‘Celebration of Life’ is celebrated by the Uturu community of Abia. The festival showcases several dances and songs performed by 47 cultural troupes. The troupe mesmerized the audience with the sensual performance of its female dancers whose waists rolled in a rhythmic manner. Their costumes and hairdo are quite traditional even as their faces are coated with local powder. It’s intriguing to note that only virgins constitute the troupes. The four-day festival holds in December.
Njuwa Fishing Festival – Adamawa State
Njuwa is an annual fishing festival performed by the Buatiye (Bata) people of the Adamawa Emirate. Though there is no fixed date for the festival, it usually takes place when the level of the water in the lake subsides mostly between April. The fishing festival attracts many people from within and outside the state. The festival is a two-day event occasion with different activities; traditional dances, competitive running, tug-of-war, boat riding, swimming, fishing, etc.
Akwa Ibom Christmas Carol (9,999)
The event which made its debut in 2008 as “9,999 Carols Night” and is now officially renamed “Akwa Ibom Christmas Carols” has since grown in magnitude and repute to become a glittering carnival of songs, dance, worship and fun recognized worldwide and cited in the Guinness Book of Records.
In the 2011 edition, Akwa Ibom Christmas Carols made history when it featured a 9,999-member choir, which was reputed to be the largest choir in the world at that time. The Akwa Ibom Christmas Carols-an evening of praise, worship, love and unity, apart from being a record-breaking gathering of Carol Singers, has become a major avenue of promoting spiritual growth, peaceful coexistence among ethnic, religious and cultural groups in the State and spiritual tourism that attracts people from around the world.
IBOMfest – Akwa Ibom
Akwa Ibom Heritage Festival has hosted over a million guests, visitors and indigenes included since its inception in 2015. Activities during the festival will be; Local Government Parade, Fashion Parade, Cultural Troupe Presentation, Social Interaction and Heritage Tour, Cooking Competition, sculptural landscapes, Gala Night, Arts and Crafts sales, Boat Regatta and Christmas Carol. Akwa Ibom’s hospitable and accommodating nature has made the state a destination for tourists and investors. Through IBOMfest, Akwa Ibom “the land of tourism” would be showcasing its rich cultural heritage to the world annually in December.
Ofala Festival – Anambra State
The indigenes of Anambra State have packaged this colourful renewal rite of the Obi-Onitsha. Celebrated only once a year mostly to wrap up the new yam festival, the Igwe uses this time to commune with his ancestors, and to thank them for protecting him and his subjects for the past year as well as pray for peace and prosperity in the year to come. During the Ofala festival, the people showcase the rich cultural heritage of the Onitsha clan to keep their culture alive. To conclude a planting season, the lgwe seizes this opportunity to relate with his people. This festival is usually held in October annually.
The Circumcision Feast of Gezawa People – Bauchi State
This is an age-long ceremony by the Gezawa people. It is a rite of passage from adolescence to adulthood performed by young boys between 12 and 13 years old. Activities marking the ceremony commence in the month of March every year, while the climax of the event is rounded off in May with a colourful performance by masquerades and sonorous singing by natives of the village. Those circumcised are differentiated by the leather skin, wrapped around their waist. This ceremony is performed once every four years with a fresh set of boys who have attained the rightful age of manhood.
Amassoma Seigbein Fishing & Feasting Festival – Bayelsa State
Amassoma Seigbein is celebrated by the Ijaw-speaking clan residing in Ogugubulu. The creek where this fishing festival holds is directly opposite the community. The festival takes place in the months of May to June for a period of two weeks. Each year, the people rotate its organization by the different compounds in the community. Amassoma Seigbein fishing festival is graced by beautiful dance performances, fishing expeditions, harvesting of new yam, feasting, exchange of gifts, traditional dances, masquerades, wrestling, swimming, fanfare/picnics and the most looked forward to is the love boat party.
Odi Ogori Ba Uge – Bayelsa State
This is the biggest festival celebrated by the Odi people of Bayelsa State. The festival marks the victory over a mysterious buffalo (Ogori) that attacked the community for five years. The buffalo would attack and kill people in the community on several occasions. Finally, it was killed on July 27, 1957. On this note, July 27th every year commemorates the heroic exploits of their fathers in the killing of the Ogori.
Kwagh Hir Puppet Theatre Festival – Benue State
This puppet theatre is a dramatization of pranks and habits of animals, the magic spirits by puppets and masquerades. The Kwargh-Hir puppet festival of the Tiv people is useful for handing down information, opinions, beliefs and customs through the oral / narrative and has offered visual metaphors for understanding and resolving social conflicts. This festival is popular during the dry season, October- December.
Leboku Festival – Cross River State
The Annual New Yam International Festival of Yakurr LGA has so much to look forward to, from accepting of palm wine and gifts to female and male wrestling, football competitions, offering of supplication and appeasement, beauty pageant, yam exhibition, beaking of firewood, exchange of gifts, drying of talking drums, visitation of tourist sites, cultural troupes display, the parade of maidens, uprooting of trees among others. Leboku festival is celebrated by the Ugep people every August.
Calabar Christmas Festival – Cross River State
Calabar Carnival festival in Nigeria, also tagged “Africa’s Biggest Street Party”, was created as part of the vision of making the Cross River State in Nigeria, the number one tourist destination for Nigerians and tourists all over the world. The carnival which begins every 1st of December and last till the 31st of December has boosted the cultural mosaic of Nigerian people while entertaining the millions of spectators within and outside the State, and boosting industry for all stakeholders. the carnival aimed to include more aspects of local heritage and culture and at the same time strengthen the capacity of the locals to participate in an economically beneficial way’. Recently, Cross River State and Calabar have become the pride of Nigeria or Africa as far as tourism, carnivals and hospitality are concerned.
The Itigidi Aji Festival – Cross River State
The Aji Festival is the most significant cultural heritage celebrated by the Agbo tribe of Cross River State, ltigidi being part of the Agbo stock. Itigidi, the present Abi L.G.A. Headquarters today celebrates the most famous cultural festival during the Christmas season in Cross River State.
The festival with its distinctive religious and social values is the fountain of the Agbos’ impregnable historical or cultural heritage that is least polluted by the invasion of alien culture. It is a solemn occasion dedicated to their creator “Almighty GOD” – a period of thanksgiving for a successful year and request for favours in the following year. It’s a time for reunion among relatives and friends; a once-in-a-year experience for the people, visitors and her environs.
The present zeal among the Itigidians has made it a sure tourism asset to the community, Abi Council, the State and the Country. It is one month of great cultural displays and entertainment, celebrated with pump and pageantry. One major attraction of the festival, “The Edele Dance”, is known to singularly summon all inhabitants from the adolescent through all Age grades to the Paramount Chief, to one sacred assemblage for a great display. After this great dance, other traditional groups take specific turns to exhibit their cultural displays along designated routes and arenas, to the admiration of onlookers. Amongst these groups are; the Elega dance, Masquerades such as E’kowa, Nsibi, Emin Agbor, Obam, Obon and Ekpe, with women, medians and children not left out. Another exciting attraction during this festival is the Boat Regatta which is highly competitive amongst age grades or the four (4) traditional clans. Also not left out, are the seasonal sand beaches used for picnics and competitions during the festival.
Aside from her rich cultural heritage potential, Itigidi is also blessed with great natural and historical sites yearning for development. These include historical buildings of the old that depict her early contact with the Europeans, war caves in Agba, the creeks and stone hedges of Otonu with their geographical features and aesthetic qualities for scientific and historical tourism. The area is also noted for beautiful table landscapes that could be developed into aqua-silvicultural agro-forest systems, film locations and posh estates. There is also a stone carved in the form of a canoe along the riverbank which will always elicit one’s mind and the natural stone embankment of Nkoka farmland among others.
Itigidi, a unique, wonderful and peaceful town that lies mid-way on the western bank of the Cross River, about 320 km from the great Calabar River is definitely yearning and waiting for tourism exploits. The Itigidi Aji Festival holds during the Christmas season in December.
Ekpe Masquerade Festival – Cross River State
Ekpe Masquerade is part of the Ekpe special cult of certain high chiefs among the Efiks of Cross River State, and also part of Akwa Ibom, Abia as well as in Cuba and Brazil. The Ekpe has been in existence for years however, the Ekpe Masquerade plays only a ceremonial role. Ekpe is known as a mysterious spirit who is supposed to live in the jungle and to preside at the ceremonies of the society. Only males bound by an oath of secrecy are admitted into this society. Ekpe is noted for its colourful costume, extended head gear and spirited music provided by middle to late-adult-aged drummers.
Delta Tourism Expo – Delta State
The Delta Tourism Expo is an event held by the Delta State Tourism Board in order to showcase the state as a preferred tourism destination and also to provide information and create awareness of the tourism potential that abounds in the state to the public and how they can generate revenue, create employment and boost the tourism sector.
Ogwashi-Uku Festival – Delta State
The Ogwashi-Uku people from Aniocha South have deemed it fit to celebrate their culture by doing away with fetish practices. The annual festival is basically a dance fiesta meant to promote brotherhood, co-existence and the image of Ogwashi-Uku through culture and dance, in order to attract progress and development and also to bring together sons and daughters of the land from far and near during its celebration. The annual festival is one of the most admired cultural events in Aniocha. The festival which began in December 2010 is a time and place to socialize and interact and even fill their stomachs with delicious delicacies. This three-day fiesta showcases their rich, evergreen tradition and cultural heritage through cultural dances, musical concerts, fashion shows, dinner parties, quiz competitions, talent hunts, parades/carnival float processions and displays targeted at the progress and development of the community, etc. The initiator/president of this carnival is a daughter of the land Lady Anthonia Oguah. This festival serves as a springboard for tourist attractions and holds from 24th – 26th, December.
Ojiji Festival – Ebonyi State
The Izzi clan of Ebonyi State are rich in culture and tradition. There are many colourful folklores, cultural dances, masquerade displays and artworks that express the beautiful cultural heritage of its people. The annual New Yam Festival and the colourful Masquerade Festival are some of the events to see in Ebonyi. The festival features a lot of activities used to mark the end of a yam farming cycle and the beginning of another farming season. This includes thanksgiving, almsgiving, prayers, pouring of libation, compound cleaning, visitation to In-laws and relatives, communal road construction, circumcision, age grade initiation, peace/reconciliation, clearing of pathways to the local streams/rivers and ultimately showcasing of the cosmological values of Izzi clan. Ojiji holds in August annually.
Igue Festival – Edo State
The Igue festival is a period of offering thanks to the gods for sparing their lives, a time to ask for blessings and also offer sacrifices to some deities in the palace. During this period, chieftaincy title holders display their Eben emblem in the Ugie dance. In Benin, it is forbidden to hold any burial or funeral ceremonies because it’s a period of joy not to be interrupted by any form of public mourning. It is prohibited that the Oba cleanses the land during the ritual season in the presence of non-natives. The Binis display their rich culture and tradition to all those who have come to witness the colourful festival from 1st – 14th December yearly.
Egungun or Imale Idiroko Festival – Ekiti State
Egungun or Imaleidiroko Festival is celebrated in Ekiti State, Nigeria to invoke the deities believed to be in charge of the ethical and moral standards of the people. There is a large display of masquerades clothed in traditional Yoruba costumes during the festival. Families are expected to kill either a cock or sheep depending on their capability to appease the spirit of their ancestors so as to direct the family in line with acceptable moral and ethical standards. Traditional gunshots are blown for the Egungun who is one of the founders of Yoruba culture. Yoruba citizens dress in their native attire to colour the festival which is largely celebrated in Yoruba land in Nigeria. Women during this festival sing and dance songs of praise while men partake in the Egungun masquerade. Egungun festival is sometimes performed during the death of a very important personality in Yoruba land, especially old men and is done annually.
Mmanwu Festival – Enugu State
Mmanwu festival simply means the celebration of masquerades. Masquerades are believed to be re-incarnated so during the festival, it is believed that the spirit of the dead is invoked into a masquerade. The sizes and shapes of the masquerades vary as each one represents an ancestor. Not everyone is allowed to put on the masquerade mask as only those initiated into its cult are allowed to put them on. In Enugu State, masquerades are as much law enforcement agents as they are cultural entertainment. In some cases, women are also not allowed to come in contact with some of the masquerades as it relates to the culture and traditions of the people. The use of charms to suppress some of the aggressive colourful masquerades believed to have been taken over by aggressive spirits is a sight to behold during the festival. Mmanwu is an annual celebration held in the month of October and November.
African Arts and Craft Expo – FCT (NCAC), Abuja
The African Arts and Craft Expo organized by the NCAC is a marketplace for showcasing arts and crafts products such as fabrics, leather and souvenirs from Nigeria and other African countries. It is a unique opportunity for artists, craft dealers, manufacturers and other stakeholders to buy and sell, as well as brand their products. Last year, the 9th edition of the event was held in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. November is usually scheduled for this event.
Abuja Carnival – FCT, ABUJA
In 2005, the Abuja Carnival was initiated by the erstwhile President of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, GCFR as an annual event to hold during the Harmathan (winter) season in Nigeria. It is to create a platform to present and preserve the rich intangible cultural heritage of Nigeria which abounds in the 774 Local Government Areas of Nigeria and to showcase Abuja as a destination. Nine (9) editions have been successfully organized. The Carnival which involves the thirty-six (36) states and the Federal Capital Territory and foreign countries is packaged by the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture in collaboration with the Federal Capital Territory Administration which provides all necessary facilities and welfare for the State contingents.
In 2012, innovations were introduced into the carnival with the involvement of women and youth organizations, School Children, non – governmental and specialized organizations, Military/Paramilitary and several culture/tourism stakeholders. More specialized organizations are expected to be part of the 2016 edition as a result of greater awareness being created. The carnival is designed to give an opportunity to participants to compete for awards in various activities with a view to developing their creative abilities for economic empowerment.
The objectives of the Carnival are as follows:
- The creation of a unique brand that involves the thirty-six (36) States plus the Federal Capital Territory, which creates an avenue to promote our unity in diversity, build bridges amongst our people and further strengthen our mutual relationship with friendly Countries;
- Contributing to the economic growth and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Nigeria.
- To serve as a magnet for the attraction of tourists into the country and the development of tourism in Nigeria;
- Projection of a tourism brand that projects Nigeria as a warm, safe and hospitable tourism destination;
- An avenue for the promotion and development of the creative abilities of our people.
- A vehicle to present and preserve our rich intangible cultural heritage that abounds in the country for posterity:
- An avenue for the promotion, development and sustainability of the creative abilities of our people;
- A brand that promotes micro, small and medium-scale enterprises thus generating employment for our people and
- A brand that promotes the priceless benefits in the value chain of the creative industries in Nigeria.
The activities to look out for in Abuja are; Durbar, Masquerade, Children Fiesta, Cultural Night Performance, Boat Regatta, Food Fair/Bush Bar, Street Carnival, Command Performance and Contemporary Music Fiesta. Over the years, these objectives have been upheld and promoted. The festival is held on the 3rd week of November annually.
Pissi Tangle Cultural Festival – Gombe State
The Tangale indigenes of Billiri Local Government Area of Gombe State, celebrate the Pissi Tangle Cultural Festival annually as it gathers together their kinsmen in the diaspora. Celebrated on the last Saturday of December every year with the display of various farm produce, indicating that agriculture still remains the mainstay of the Tangale economy, as well as a display of ancient cultural artefacts, traditional cuisines, cultural dresses and dances.
Ikeji Festival – Imo State
Ikeji festival is a feast celebrated by almost all Aros in Igbo land, especially Arochukwu, Arondizuogu and Aro Ajalli. In Arondizuogu, it is celebrated every March/ April each year often falling alongside Easter.lt is a festival that signifies the myth and power of the Aros all over Igbo Land, especially during the slave trade era. Thanksgiving to Chukwu (God) during this festival cannot be over-emphasized as all Aros purchase a huge amount of foodstuff to offer offerings/sacrifices. The main features during this celebration are; Incitation into the Mmonwu society, Masquerading or “Oso Mmonwo”, making of Sacrifices before the festival and the main celebration itself. The main meal during the festival is ji (yam). Aro sons and daughters abroad make it a date to be around during the festival period as well as tourists who want to be part of the Arondizuogu rich culture of hospitality. The Ikeji Festival of Arondizuogu is described as the greatest carnival of masks and masquerades in Africa and the biggest cultural festival in Igbo land. Ikeji is a four-day yearly event as it also represents the Igbo week of four market days.
Ahiajoku – Imo State
Ahiajoku is now celebrated by all Igbos to honour the crop yam which is the mainstay of arable farming activity in Igbo land as well as the King of farm crops: “IriJi” is mainly an activity to celebrate the new yam. This has become an important social event in recent times. The solemn role of eating the first yam is performed by the oldest man or Eze: traditional ruler – different Igbo communities have different names for their traditional rulers – of the community. It is believed within the traditional communities that their position bestows on them the privilege of being intermediaries between their communities and the gods of the land. Many traditionalists and title-holders in Igbo land will not taste the new yam until the day that is traditionally set aside for that purpose. At the Ahiajoku festival, only dishes of yam are served.
Imo Carnival – Imo State
Imo State is not left out as their year also ends with a carnival also known as ‘Celebration of Unity’ inaugurated in 2011. During the carnival there is a rush for hoteliers and event managers as the town gets busy with food vendors and drink sellers, business for the costumiers, tailors, transporters, photographers, etc. Events to look out for during the carnival are; comedy, music/dance, the exhibition of skills by young talents, acrobatic dances, local cuisines, masquerades display, street parades, and street parties, among others. Visitors within and outside the state are always welcome to be part of this celebration. The carnival has been designed to be an annual event which begins from the 16th to the 31st of December.
Tuk Ham Festival- Kaduna State
TUK Ham is a planting festival by the Jabba ethnic group who are also identified as descendants of the Nok culture. Tuk-Ham festival takes place March-May each year at Kwoi, in Kaduna State. The festival is usually celebrated and performed during the Easter holidays. The two-day ceremony is normally preceded by a symposium and Tir-Ham (Miss Jaba) and is rounded up with cultural displays and a Gala night. Tuk-Ham holds between March-May annually.
Kaduna State Festival of Arts and Culture (Kadfest) – Kaduna State
KADFEST is an annual event designed to promote the cultural heritage of Kaduna State.The festival brings together participants from the twenty-three Local Government Areas of the State.The main purpose of KADFEST is to promote unity as well as to encourage tourism in the State by showcasing their culture through various skills and talents.KADFEST will be held in May.
Durbar Festival – Kano State
Kano State Durbar or Hawan Sallah or Hawan Daushe as it is locally called is a royal parade of thousands of men on horses adorned with garments and regalia. It is a colourful display of culture full of pomp and pageantry, a spectacular traditional concert of and a bazaar of African music. It is celebrated at the culmination of Muslim festivals Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha. It begins with prayers, followed by a parade of the Emir and his entourage on horses, accompanied by music players, and ends at the Emir’s palace.
The Durbar festival dates back hundreds of years to the time when the Emirate (state) in the north used horses in warfare. During this period, each town, district, and nobility household was expected to contribute a regiment to the defense of the Emirate. Once or twice a year, the Emirate military chiefs invited the various regiments for a Durbar (military parade) for the Emir and his chiefs.
During the parade, regiments would showcase their horsemanship, their preparedness for war, and their loyalty to the Emirate. Today, Durbar has become a festival celebrated in honour of visiting Heads of State and at the culmination of the two great Muslim festivals, Id-el Fitri (commemorating the end of the holy month of Ramadan) and Ide-el Kabir (commemorating Prophet Ibrahim sacrificing a ram instead of his son).
Kallon Kuwa Festival – Katsina State
Kallon Kuwa is a post-harvest youth cultural festival. Its name is derived from Kallon Kowa which means “viewing for all” in Hausa. The festival started around 1935 and takes place annually in various villages, including Shinkafi, Dankanjiba, Dutsen Safe and Rimin Guza. It is held to express happiness for the successful completion of the cropping season and to celebrate the coming of “Kaka” -a time of prosperity in terms of abundant food and increased economic and social activities.
It is a time of leisure, entertainment and the promotion of cultural traditions after a long period of farming and also provides an opportunity for the youth to choose marriage partners. One of the most important activities which take place during the early stages of Kallon Kuwa is a kind of drama in which the youth imitate the Hausa traditional form of authority, which emphasises the role of the Sarki (king) as the political head of the community as well as the custodian of the people’s culture. Traditional wrestling, boxing, singing and dancing also take place.
Argungu Fishing Festival – Kebbi State
The main ethnic group living in Argungu Emirate have over the years created this festival that showcases the rich cultural heritage of the Kabawa, the main ethnic group living in Argungu. The Argungus’ are mostly fishermen and this led to the famous international fishing festival at the Madan Fada river. The Argungu International Fishing and Cultural Festival has both local and international participants and is one of the oldest festivals of its kind. Over 30,000 fishermen participate in the contest using their fishing nets and traditional gourds made with pumpkin-like calabashes. The best fisherman of the year with the biggest fish gets a cash prize of as much as $7,500.
Zuru Uhola Cultural Festival – Kebbi State
The people of Zuru Emirate are best known for their hard work and endurance, especially in farming. The Dakarkaris’s rich cultural heritage is depicted in this festival. In this yearly event, the Dakarkaris showcase their history, farming potential, hunting, and even fighting skills. Participants within and outside Kebbi State grace this two-day event. Activities during the festival are; display of locally made colourful attires, agricultural show, display of food crops and livestock, maturity dance for males and females ripe enough for marriage (Yadato), archery, grinding competition, sprinting, traditional dances/music, etc. Zuru Uhola Cultural Festival holds annually in April.
Ovia Osese Festival – Kogi State
The day of the virgins’ festival of songs for the Ogori people symbolizes chastity, virility, fertility and procreation. Ovia Osese festival has made the Ogori land renowned internationally and locally as visitors troop in to witness this mandatory marital initiation of maidens (Ovia) at the Ogori square. This annual event is one of the few festivals that preserve our core culture and values. The one-week event which holds two weeks after Easter involves initiation rites that prepare young Ogori maidens for the journey into womanhood, a cultural troupe display, beautifully adorned girls’ parade, etc.
Patigi Regatta Festival – Kwara State
Patigi Regatta Festival is a biennial event involving the Nupe people of Patigi Emirate and residents living along the banks of the Niger and Kogi States. The activities of the festival include; canoe races and displays, fishing, swimming, colourful and a variety of display of Nupe culture on the waterside, etc. Over the years, Patigi has become a tourist location. This festival holds around March/April biennial.
Ijakadi Festival – Kwara State
Offa town in its bid to showcase the cultural heritage of the town celebrates the Ijakadi Festival in grand style. During the festival, job opportunities are created to empower the Offa people as well as to increase the town’s revenue. ljakadi (traditional wrestling) is an ancient tradition celebrated to attract tourism support and to also showcase the entire cultural heritage of Offa town to the outside world. Activities to watch out for are; a roadshow parading the five districts of Offa in their colours, the Arewa Offa beauty pageant (a competition in search of the traditional Offa woman), a food expo (an exposition of different dishes and produce of the Sweet Potato – Offa’s main food produce, and the Ijakadi (Traditional Wrestling). The high point of the show will be a wrestling match between HRM and the Essa of Offa. ljakadi holds from 26th December till 30th December annually.
The Lagos Theatre Festival – Lagos State
This festival was launched in 2012 by the British Council, to create professional exchange opportunities between Nigeria and British theatre makers, stimulating innovation in theatre practice and changing the face of performing arts in Nigeria. The essence of the festival is to engage theatre artists in different categories; art fashion, design, theatre, dance, music, literature and film throughout Nigeria and also promote synergy with the creative industries in the UK. The Lagos Theatre Festival presents an opportunity to showcase talents, creativity and the rich cultural heritage of Lagos State.
Lagos Black Heritage Festival (LBHF) – Lagos State
LBHF is an annual event in Lagos which also includes the Lagos Carnival. The festival is a feast of culture and history aimed to showcase the richness and diversity of the African heritage via diverse performances such as traditional and contemporary Dance, Drama, Music, and Painting, Design and Fashion Displays, Film and Video Exposition, and International Symposium among others.
Badagry Festival – Lagos State
African Renaissance Foundation (AFEFO) are the main organizers of the Badagry festival that commemorate the significance of the ancient town during the slave trade era. During the festival period, there is an artistic display of masquerades, cultural dancers, fire eaters, a cultural display of African heritage, a football competition, libation, nature/water sport activities, an arts & crafts festival, slave trade abolition remembrance day, drumming and others. Badagry festival is held annually in the third week of August.
Felabration Music Festival – Lagos State
Felabration is an annual music festival conceived in 1998 by Yeni Anikulapo-Kuti in memory and celebration of her father Fela Kuti, a Nigerian musician and human rights activist known for pioneering the afrobeat genre of music. The one-week-long event which is held annually at the New Afrika Shrine in Ikeja attracts visitors from different countries and has thus been considered an official tourist destination by the Lagos State Government. Felabration is held on the week of Fela’s birthday. The event features musical performances from top music acts from Nigeria and guest appearances from internationally acclaimed musicians and personalities. It also consists of street parades, symposia on social and topical issues, debates and photo exhibitions.
One Lagos Fiesta – Lagos State
The One Lagos Fiesta always takes place in five zones in Lagos; Ikeja (Agege Stadium), Badagry (Badagry Stadium), Ikorodu (Ikorodu Town Hall), Lagos Island (Bar Beach) and Epe (Epe Recreation Centre). The One Lagos Fiesta is a celebration of culture and art, aimed at uniting 20 million residents across the state. During the celebration, the five zones will same time have artists performing for Lagosians as they dance and cheer in the crowd, talent hunts and live comedy. One Lagos Fiesta runs from 24th – 31st December annually.
Lekki Sun Splash – Lagos State
Lekki Sun Splash is usually organised at Maiyegun Beach on Lekki Peninsula in Lagos, exhibiting great Nigerian musicians. lt is a music festival with different artistes in Nigeria attending the event, with over 100,000 people attending this exciting festival annually, as well as renowned artistes from all genres of local music such as Juju, Fuji, gospel, reggae, disco, and high life among others. The Festival holds on the 25th and 26th of December in Lagos.
Lagos Seafood Festival – Lagos State
The Lagos Seafood Festival is an annual event in Lagos. The first edition of the festival was held on November 10, 2012. The festival is aimed at promoting seafood cuisine culture, and local fish production and stimulating investment opportunities in relation to aquaculture and fisheries. Fish lovers and visitors from Lagos and from other parts of Nigeria always have a good time eating and enjoying the best fish gotten by Lagos fishermen. Different types of fish are usually displayed during the fiesta; fresh fish, smoked fish, prawns, etc. Activities during the festival are; the pepper soup competition, catching fish competition, music & dance, and comedy among others. The Seafood Festival comes up in December.
The Eyo festival is a colourful festival that expresses and exhibits the culture and traditions of the city of Lagos. The festival has evolved over three centuries and is usually held to celebrate the life and times of, or in commemoration of the passage of or ascension to the throne of an Oba (King) of Lagos. Equally, the Eyo festival is staged in memory of a deceased worthy and illustrious individual, such as a White Cap Chief, who has contributed immensely to the progress and development of Lagos. It is widely anticipated and attended by Lagos indigenes and also by visitors both from across Nigeria and internationally. Its splendid and expansive theatrical displays and pageantry highlight and showcase the aboriginal history of the denizens of Lagos, and through a picturesque array of regalia and costumes, forms parades on the island of Lagos. This is largely regarded as a day of joyous splendour and gaiety. This festival is ceremonial.
Ogani Fishing And Cultural Festival – Nasarawa State
Residents of Umaisha community in the Toto Local Government Area of Nasarawa State, have based their existence around the body of water which flows through the community. They make time out every year to celebrate amidst guests and well-wishers, in the water that they claim has been their pillar of existence with a fishing festival. For these Egbura-speaking people of Umaisha Development Area in Nasarawa State, the celebration of the Ogani cultural fishing festival does not only portray peaceful co-existence among the inhabitants, but it also accords youth the opportunity to show their bravery in the community as they defy the strong tide of River Niger/Benue to catch fishes of various sizes. The celebration comes with various kinds of masquerades and events, including the Mamiwata masquerade of the Tivs, Eka Egbura masquerade, Gbandoko and swimming, speed boat and competitions among the community youths. Ogani cultural fishing festival is also in commemoration of getting rid of buffalos by their ancestors. This history, he said, is still mimicked by a resident who dresses like a buffalo as part of the celebration. This fishing festival will take place between the end of January to early February.
Oyarore Salt Festival — Nasarawa State
Oyarore festival is paramount to the Alagon Keana people of Nasarawa State whose elders are considered to be the custodians of the Alogon tradition. The main aim of the festival is to constantly remind the Keana clan of their successful existence and also to give thanks to the gods for a successful salt mining year, farming and trading. The most important activity is the Oyarore Salt Dance which is a must-watch during the festival as it combines three different Keana dances in one. This one-week event is celebrated annually between October – November.
Gani Cultural Festival- Niger State
This is a three days lively festival of the Kutigi people in the Lavun local government area of Niger state, Nigeria celebrated annually to commemorate the birth of Prophet Muhammad. The cultural festival usually commenced with drummers dancing their way to the residence of the village head popularly known as Ezanuwa to authorise the takeoff of the festival. This usually comes before the entertainment eve when all kinds of musicians display their potential to the cheer of the spectators. On the main festival day, the youths of the village parade the community amidst dance and live music and with scarves designed by the young ladies of the community. All find their way to the Kutigi township stadium where guests and others spectators are already waiting. Activities to be performed in the stadium include horse riding, the riding takes off from the stadium to the Tako Tsowakoneat Toro River, each rider puts his flag when he gets there before riding back to the stadium, there are also various cultural music displays from the Ntakogi (forestry) group, Takar dance group, Zannabi dance group, Majin Lubasa (onion growers) group, Lavun cultural Troupe, hunters group and others, and finally the appearance of Ndakogboya Emidawu masquerade who is believed to sanctify the community of evils. Having done this the Zanna and his royal council storm the stadium to declare the event open. This cultural festival also allows the parades of young unmarried ladies with the aim of creating an avenue for interaction between young men and females for marriage purposes. The grand finale is the wrestling on the Gani field which attracts the presence of the Ndako Gani (Prince of Gani), while the princess known as Sagi of Gani aids the women in the cooking. Citizens, in-laws, friends and well-wishers return home to partake in the cultural festival and also as a time to meet with their loved ones.
Nigerian Drum Festival – Ogun State
The first Nigerian Drum Festival was held in April 2016 in Abeokuta and it produced the tallest drum – 16ft high by an indigene in the state. Drummers from within and outside Nigeria attended this four-day drums festival designed to showcase the rich cultural heritage of different ethnic groups that are already going into extinction. Abeokuta is expected to be the destination for African drummers to display their drumming talents. Activities lined up are; showcasing the rich cultural heritage of the Yoruba culture, performances by individual/group drummers, cultural group displays, recitations, drum displays, etc.
Ojude Oba Festival – Ogun State
The aim of the Ojude-Oba which is usually held on the third day of Eid is to celebrate the rich culture and heritage of the people of Ijebu-ode. This is showcased via resplendent traditional attires, deft hairstyles, cuisine (ifokore) and the re-enactment of rare cultural dances which can only be watched at a festival of such magnitude. The 100-year-old festival welcomes over 45,000 visitors amidst heavy, singing, dancing and drumming and also pay homage to the paramount ruler of ljebu-land. Ojude Oba festival has made Ogun State a major tourist destination in Nigeria. The thematic structure of the festival gives rein to the solicitation and agitation of topical issues in the state and the community. The festival’s repertoire includes a parade from the Balogun clan and Dodondawas clan, regberegbe (age groups), several societies and groups, accompanied by rapid gunshots, traditional songs, poems and equestrian skill display witnessed by the locals, national and international visitors, as well as Ijebu indigenes in the Diaspora.
Odun Oba – Ondo State
The Odun Oba is centred around the paramount ruler of the Ondo kingdom. It comes up every July and is celebrated by the Ode people of Ondo State for seven days. The beauty of this festival is the constant sounding of the etutu drums that follows the royal regalia and beaded crown displayed outside the palace and also the Kabiyesi’s dance around the town as he entertains his people and also performs different rites. Music and dance are the order of the day as the activities roll by. Other activities are the presentation of gifts to the Oba and his chiefs, sword and dance, libation by the Oba, and community procession among others. This festival serves as a unifying platform for the Oba, his chiefs, iyalojas and the people. As usual, the festival will hold this year in July.
Igogo Festival – Ondo State
The Igogo festival is a unique Yoruba festival held in Owo town also known as Igogo (when the Oba plaits his hair and men wear wigs). It is held to honour Queen Oronsen, a mythical wife of Rerengejen, beautiful and affluent but unknown to the king possessed supernatural powers which she used in enriching the monarch and was thereby loved by the monarch. During the festival, the incumbent Olowo of Owo and high chiefs of Owo Kingdom dress like women and are adorned with coral beads, beaded gowns and plaited hair. Wearing headgear and caps as well as booming drums and firing guns are not allowed during the festivals. The countless costumes which will make Owo a rainbow of sorts are another exciting aspect of the festival to accommodate the adoration of a goddess. The festival, no doubt, is a spectacle to behold as the monarch will lead a traditional chant, with his chiefs chorusing. The unique feature of the festival is that most of the titled chiefs, both male and female must plait their hair and dress in women’s attires, dancing around the town to entertain their friends and family, others will wear wigs and decorate their necks and ankles with coral beads. lgogo is a seventeen-day festival where it is forbidden to shoot guns, beat drums and wear caps/head ties. Igogo is celebrated annually in September.
Osun-Osogbo Festival – Osun State
Osun-Osogbo festival also known as the Founder’s day is celebrated at the Osun-Osogbo sacred grove in Osogbo, Osun State. There is no doubt this festival draws together Osun worshippers, spectators and tourists from all over the world to worship and celebrate the Osun goddess of fertility. During the festival, celebration, traditional cleansing of the land, reunion of people and also the reunion of the people of the land with their ancestors and founders of Osogbo, are the activities to look out for. This two-week celebration takes place in the second week of August every year.
Olojo Festival – Osun State
The Olojo festival takes place in Ife, Osun State. The festival is the smallest festival on the cultural calendar of Ile-Ife, located in the Southwestern part of Nigeria. It is the celebration of the remembrance of “Ogun”, god of Iron, who is believed to be the first son of Oduduwa, progenitor of the Yoruba people. The one-week festival highlights will include traditional wrestling, traditional Yoruba cuisines, traditional arts and crafts exhibition, an exhibition of photo news about historical and tourist sites across the state, Ooni’s cleansing of the palace and himself from evil forces and others. The festival is held annually in October.
Okebadan Festival – Oyo State
The people of Ibadan every year on a particular Thursday in the month of March celebrate the Okebadan festival. The chief priest has the mandate to choose any of the Thursdays (Ojobo) in March. The period which happens to be during the rainy season is a time of appeasing the spirit of the hill (Okebadan) to bless them with abundant rain for their crops so that their harvest will be rich. Activities during this celebration are prayers offered to thank the ancestors for another festival season; cold meals are served as well as rituals at the shrine in “Oja “ba” (Oba market), the Abori (a male) who dresses as a female performing for the chiefs. For a successful outing, the festival is always a work-free day to encourage the full participation of the people.
Sango Festival – Oyo State
The Alafin of Oyo palace is the place to be during the celebration and honour of Sango, god of thunder and fire who was a warlord with magical powers of the Oyo kingdom. This event is highly recognised by UNESCO to facilitate the homecoming of the Yorubas in the diaspora, attracting spectators from around the world, especially from Cuba, Brazil, Trinidad and Tobago and the Caribbean. Sango is the greatest hero in the Yoruba race. During this celebration, the rich cultural heritage of the Yorubas is showcased such as; drumming, dancing, singing, pageantry, and libation among others.
Egungun Ceremonial Festival – Oyo State
The Yorubas honour their dead as they believe that the dead still have a place among the living. The Egungun is celebrated in festivals known as Odun Egungun and in family rituals through the masquerade custom. As part of the Yoruba custom, this ceremony is performed to mark the death of important personalities among the Egbas, Egbados and Oyo. As an annual celebration, it is usually held during the dry season between the months of November to April.
Vwang Festival – Plateau State
In Mupun land, the most important ritual for males or boys after puberty is circumcision (chan) i.e. manhood rites which some scholars nowadays refer to as genital mutilation. It is compulsory for every Mupun male. It comprises various stages and it is usually an elaborate ceremony that takes about two years to prepare. The chief priest and his council of Elders always remind the community well in advance as relations of the boys from far and near are expected at the ceremony. Moreover, boys from other villages could be brought to join their counterparts. Manhood and puberty rituals are carried out in two different levels but during the same year for children between ages 8 and 13. The first consists of circumcision (chan) and the second of manhood training (Vwang/Pun). These two major stages comprise smaller rituals; some Mupun clans perform boys’ initiation rites quadrennials while the majority perform them after every eight years.
Carniriv – Rivers State
Rivers State is known as the land of a thousand masquerades with a fine variety of spoken tongues, numbering over 300, it is somewhat easy to discern the beauty in the diversity of its peoples. Carniriv ‘The Port Harcourt Carnival is Africa’s biggest and oldest street carnival. With a participation of over 2 million people, the carnival is a blend of culture, tradition, fashion and lifestyle fused together to showcase the rich heritage of Africa. The major events to watch out for are; Garden City Freestyle Parade, International Heritage Parade and the Kids Carnival. CARNIRIV is an annual event held in Port Harcourt from 1st-31st December.
Opobo International Boat Regatta – Rivers State
Opobo International Boat Regatta (01B) is regarded as a celebration of life in the water. This colourful event with the attendance of cultural troupes from around Nigeria competes on how well their boats are built, their speed and also the decoration during the event. The following are the activities during OIB; Open sea swimming and all canoe races, “Waking The Dragon” (or Ijumangi) & Opening Ceremony, One-man – five-man Marathon canoe races as well as cultural display. OIB starts on the 24th of December- the 5th of January annually.
Romo Fishing Festival – Sokoto State
This is an annual festival held among the Ramon Sarki in Tambuwal local government area. Legend has it that Gumaru whose name was given to the lake where the fishing takes place was a disciple of Shehu Usman Dan Fodio. He dug a well at the site which was blessed by the Shehu and eventually the well expanded into a lake. The neighbouring communities around the lake converge between April and May for the purpose of fishing.
Nwonyo Fishing Festival -Taraba State
Nwonyo Fishing Festival is over 96 years since its creation therefore is classified as one of the oldest festivals in Africa. Ibi LGA of Taraba State discovered its potential and thrived over the years to bring it to the limelight in this yearly event. The fishing festival is held in Nwonyo Lake which is the largest lake in West Africa. Some of the activities during the festivals are; Boat Racing, Swimming Competitions, Boat Regattas, Masquerade Dances, Traditional Dances, and The Fish-Catch Competition which happens to be the main event amain among others.
Bade Fishing Festival – Yobe State
The Bade Emirate is known for its fishing activities. The fishing festival is performed yearly in every village in the emirate along the Bade River. Formal arrangement for the festival starts from the local area before the actual fishing months of February and March. During the celebration, fishermen are also invited from Chad, Mali, and other neighbouring countries to join in the fishing contests. The Bade fishing festival is very important because it serves as a unifying force amongst the different Bade communities as the festival brings together people from different works of life, it creates an important forum for cultural, social and economic interaction between people of the state, other states and countries. The Bade Festival usually holds in February-March each year in Bade.
Durbar Maccina – Yobe State
Durbar Festival popularly known for its colourful horse riding parades is annually celebrated in several northern states in Nigeria at the conclusion of the Muslim festivals of Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha. Activities during the festivals are; Prayers, a Parade of the Emir and his entourage on horses, musical displays, horsemen aesthetic display/demonstration, etc. The festival is also an opportunity for local leaders to pay homage to their emir throughout the Jahi cheering (parades). The other States involved are; Kano, Kastina and Borno. The Durbar Maccina holds annually between March – April.
Kokowa Wrestling Festival – Zamfara State
Kokowa Wrestling Festival is one of the major festivals of the Zamfara State, it is a cultural festival where young men try to show their supremacy over other young men in a wrestling match. This festival is usually celebrated during the dry season in the village square. The young men who will compete will come out in the middle of the square where they will be commanded to show their strength. The wrestler that first falls the opponent wins the match and is rewarded accordingly. The winner of the wrestling match commands a high degree of respect among his peers and also among women. Spectators hang around the square, charting songs to cheer the wrestler they like up to victory.
Iri Ji Festival – All Eastern States
The Iri-Ji (new yam) Festival is a time of thanksgiving to the gods for making the farm yields fruitful after the farming season. Celebrated at different times within the various Igbo communities, the role of eating the first yam is performed by the oldest man or Eze (traditional ruler). At the Iriji festival, only dishes of yam are served. The oldest man or the traditional ruler is normally the first person to eat the new yam and thereafter every other person can eat. The Iri ji festival is associated with feasting, dancing and merry-making. There is also a spectacular display of Masquerades of all shapes and sizes. The Iri-Ji festival holds between August and October every year.
Sharo Shadi Festival
Sharo cultural festival as a major event in the Fulani settlements attracts people from all works of life to witness the bravery spectacle exhibited by the young and energetic Fulanis. Despite the fact that the festival has over the years been eroded with the introduction of Islam, the Jafun Fulani in Nigeria still holds this age-long festival in high esteem. The festival is held twice a year, during the dry-season guinea corn harvest and the Muslim festival of Id-el-Kabir. Thus, the Sharo festival would have just been concluded a few days back. Usually held in a marketplace for a week, the festival displays the test of endurance and elicits the strength and perseverance of young males to withstand the pain emanating from severe flogging. This public flogging is of vital importance to the nomadic Fulani, and all kinds of customs and ceremonies are rooted in it.
Eid-El-Kabir Sallah Celebration
Eid-el-Kabir is an Islamic festival to commemorate the willingness of Ibrahim (also known as Abraham) to follow Allah’s (God’s) command to sacrifice his son Ishmael. Muslims around the world observe this event.
National Festival of Arts (Nafest)
The National Festival for Arts and Culture was established in 1970, after the end of Nigeria’s civil war, to help promote national unity. The festival coordinates, preserves, promotes and presents the very best of the country’s arts and culture. Organized annually by the National Council for Arts & Culture (NCAC), NAFEST has grown into a worthy celebration of Nigeria’s unity in diversity. The week-long festival is hosted in turn by different states of the nation. During the festival, Nigeria’s cultural heritage is reflected through various competitive and non-competitive events including music and dance, traditional wrestling, moonlight games for children and dramas. Exhibitions and fairs for books, herbs, food, and arts and crafts are also put up. Participants at NAFEST are traditionally drawn from the 36 states of the Federation and the FCT, sister culture parastatals, other government agencies, academia, cultural NGOs and relevant stakeholders in the sector. lt is usually celebrated from 3rd – 9th October.