In Nigeria, Festivals are simply those social, cultural and sometimes traditional occasions that are often celebrated by different people at different times.
These occasions can sometimes be done in order to honor certain deities, past leaders, past events, or simply to perform specific traditional rites.
So what are these festivals? when and where are they celebrated and by who? All of these questions will be answered in this article.
Popular Nigerian Festivals
Read on as I share with you the various festivals that are done in Nigeria and how they are done.
1. Eyo Festival
This is arguably the most famous festival in the western part of Nigeria. Usually celebrated in Lagos State by the indigenes of the land who are mostly called “omo isale eko”.
The Eyo Festival is usually a well-celebrated event that features the colorful dance displays of different Lagos masquerades.
As it is often done, the masquerade will emerge from the Iga or the kings Palace.
The major part of this festival which draws the attention of several local and international guests is the elegant display of the Yoruba culture, traditions and beliefs.
This memorable event usually holds in the month of May in Lagos State.
2. The Calabar Carnival
Popularly referred to as the biggest street celebration in the African continent, the Calabar Carnival is proof of the fact that Cross River State is a major attraction for local and international tourists.
This is an event widely celebrated In the whole of Cross River State usually in the early days of the month of December. It showcases the beautiful cultural and traditional arts of the Calabar people.
There are usually several masquerade displays, colorful customs, local delicacies, cultural dances and other things that make the carnival stand out.
3. Osun-Osogbo festival
This festival is annually celebrated in the month of August in Osun State, Nigeria.
This festival usually holds for as long as two weeks showcasing the beautiful cultural arts and acts of the Osun indigenes.
The specific location for this celebration is the Osun Sacred Groove. This festival is majorly meant to celebrate the Osun River goddess.
4. The new yam festival
This event is usually celebrated by the indigenes of the southern and eastern parts of Nigeria. Even the Idomas that are in the North Central celebrate this event.
One of the purposes of this festival is to bring together the different tribes that are involved in this celebration especially in the Igbo regions.
The new yam festival is usually celebrated in the month of August at the end of the rainy season.
Major activities in this festival include the performing of rituals in order to thank the several deities believed to be in charge of fruitfulness in the area of farming and to mark the beginning of another fruitful year.
Another notable set of activities is the display of cultural dancers, masquerades, and serving of delicious foods.
5. The Argungu fishing festival
This festival is usually celebrated in Kebbi State during the month of February.
This fun-filled festival often feature fishermen from different part of the state putting heads together in order to compete in catching the big fishes.
Meanwhile, in this competition, only traditional nets are allowed.
Asides the competition, other traditional rites are been carried out to endure that the festival is a memorable one.
6. Ofala festival
This festival is a notable one amongst the Igbo society. It is usually done to Mark the end of the thirteenth month according to the Igbo calendar and the start of a new year called (Igu Aro) in the Igbo language.
Also, this festival is usually done to honor the authority of the present traditional ruler in their land so he can continue to guide and lead the people aright.
In the Ibo land, this is one of the oldest festivals observed.
Meanwhile, the name ‘Ofala’ was coined from two different Igbo words: “Ofo” and “Ala”. Ofo means authority while Ala means Land.
Some of the activities in this festival include traditional rites, cultural and religious rites.
Also, the government of chieftaincy titles on appropriate persons.
This festival usually comes up at the end of every year.
7. Ojude Oba festival
To help you really understand this festival I may have to take a reverse back to historical details.
In the year 1982, the crowned king Adesumbo Tunwase of Ijebuland made a treaty on the relationship with the British Queen.
Part of the terms and benefits of this agreement was the permission granted to British missionaries to preach the Gospel Of Christ in Ijebuland.
Also, a land was given to the missionaries to build the first church in the Ijebu region.
That school is known as St. Saviour’s, Italupe.
Still, on this treaty, the king further allowed some of his children to be converted to Christianity and be baptised.
On the other hand, he gave the Muslims land and permission to build their central mosque.
So this led to the celebration of Ojude Oba which translates in English- ” Festival In The Kings Court.
This festival is particularly meant to pay homage to that king who was generous to his people.
Ojude Oba is usually celebrated on
the third day of the popular ileya festival also known as Eid-el-Kabir.
Other activities at this festival include lots of dancing and singing, traditional displays, parades etc.
8. Lagos carnival
This is one of the most looked out for and highly celebrated carnivals in Nigeria.
Basically, this carnival started when the slaves who were taken away returned back to their homes.
Many of these slaves were from countries like Nigeria, Sierraleone, Brasil, Cuba, Liberia etc.
This festival is a big celebration of the huge cultural heritage countries like Nigeria, Brasil and Liberia has.
This event usually takes place on the Island in Lagos.
One of the highlights of this festival is the beautiful and colorful displays of culture and tradition from different countries.
This notable festival usually takes place in the month of May.
The location for this festival is the popular Port-Harcourt city. This festival is basically a cultural event that showcases a good number of fun-filled activities like a beauty pageant, aquatic fiesta, praise jam, street parties etc.
This event usually takes up to one week as it combines pure cultural carnival and a modern Caribbean style carnival.
The carniriv festival typically holds few weeks before the Christmas celebration.
10. The Islamic Durbar festival
Also known as Hawan Sallah, the durbar festival is a major celebration in the Northern region of Nigeria.
Of the highlights of this event is the royal parade of a large number of men dressed elegantly in colorful wears and riding on horses.
This festival usually come up at the end of the Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha Islamic celebrations.