There is no better way you can get the feel of Nigeria’s rich cultural heritage than experiencing the colourful celebration of the various cultural festivals. There are various traditional festivals in Nigeria you can choose from, ranging from the Africa’s biggest street party in Calabar, the worship of the Oshun goddess in the Sacred Forest of Oshun, to the stunning white Eyo masquerades and so many others. In this post, you will find 10 colourful traditional festivals in Nigeria that would blow off your mind. In your next trip to Nigeria, try as much to avail yourself to one of these colourful, traditional festivals.
Before I go ahead in revealing the list, let me give a brief introduction of what traditional festival is all about and some of its importance.
What is Traditional Festival?
A festival is simply an event ordinarily celebrated by a community, which portrays some characteristic aspect of that community and its religion or cultures. Such period is often marked as a local or national holiday.
Food is one vital resource, as many festivals are associated with harvest time (e.g the new yam festival in Nigeria). Religious commemoration and thanksgiving for god harvests are blended in events that take place in many traditional festivals in Nigeria.
Importance of Festivals
Generally, festivals are an expensive way to celebrate glorious heritage, culture, and traditions of a community. They are meant to celebrate moments and emotions in our lives together with our loved ones.
Festivals play an important role to add structure to our social lives, and it connects us with our families and backgrounds. They tend to distract us from our day to day, tasking and exhausting routine of life, and give us some inspiration to remember the important things and moments in life. Festivals were meant to pass on legends, knowledge and traditions of a community to the next generation.
Al festivals are cultural in one way or the other. In our world today, we have many types of cultural festivals, such as national, religious, and seasonal. They all have one purpose, which is to bring happiness to our lives, and strengthen our sense of community.
Now let me show you some traditional festivals in Nigeria.
Top 10 Traditional Festivals in Nigeria
The Eyo festival is one of the most unique and colourful traditional festivals in Nigeria. Some sets of people call it the Adamu Orisha Play. It is a Yoruba festival that transforms the commercial Lagos Island to appear in stunning white. The festival attracts thousands of tourists across the world, who come to see costumed dancers or masquerades called “Eyo” who perform during the festival. The procession is quite colourful, and lots of major roads are closed. It is believed that the Eyo Festival in Lagos is a forerunner of the world biggest carnival in the world, the Rio de Janeiro Carnival.
When it comes to amazing performance, no traditional festivals in Nigeria can beat the Calabar Carnival. It marks the celebration of creativity and culture that blends with both modern and traditional lifestyle of the people of Cross River State in Nigeria. The mesmerizing dancers and dance steps, long feathered headdresses, colourful costumes, the street parades and the bands attracts thousands of audience from all over the world.
The Lagos Carnival is as colourful as that of Calabar, but a bit different. The Lagos Carnival is one of the most vibrant parties in Nigeria. You can feel the excitement even before the carnival kicks off. Tourists travel from different parts of the world to experience this carnival. You can get into the fun of the carnival, make new friends, and share those memorable moments with family and friends.
The Osun Festival is one of the most regarded traditional festivals in Nigeria. it usually take place in the month of July and August every year. In the Sacred Forest of Osun, is a one week colourful festival to honour and reverence the river goddess, Oshun of Osun State. People actually come here to get their solutions to their problems.
The Sango festival offers pretty much of an experience for people who have experienced it. This festival is in the honour of Sango the all-powerful god in Yoruba land. The Sango festival has facilitated an annual home-coming avenue for Yoruba descents in the Diaspora as a form of pilgrimage. It commemorates past history and celebrates the culture and tradition of the Yoruba people, while creating wealth and employment for the people.
Ojude Oba Festival
The Ojude Oba Festival is a cultural heritage that centers around diversity, history, legend, and conquest. The literal meaning of Ojude Oba is the “The King’s front year”. The people of Ijebu Ode return in large amount to pay their homage to the king, the Awujale of Ijebuland. This normally takes place on the third day of Ileya Festival (Eid-el-Kabir). Events in the festival includes; traditional songs, parades, equestrian skill displays and lots more.
This carnival takes place in the city of Port Harcourt, and it normally last for seven days just few weeks before Christmas. The Port Harcourt Carnival combines two carnivals, a contemporary Caribbean style carnival and a cultural carnival. It changes the Garden City to become very colourful throughout the week. Carniriv is River State’s biggest tourism export.
Let us now shift a bit to the Southeaster region of Nigeria. The Ofala Festival is held in Anambra State where the Obi of Onitsha, Dr Alfred Nnaemeka Achebe and other traditional rulers 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.
Argungu Fishing Festival
If you are yet to witness the Argungu Festival, your list of fascinated water activities you might have visited across the world is still incomplete. The dynamics of the Argungu 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 the fishing festival beautiful and extraordinary.
New Yam Festivals
One of the major festival that is celebrated around Nigeria is the Ney Yam Festival. From the Leboku in Ugep, Cross River State to the Iriji Mmanu Festival in Enugu State, the festival is quite colourful and filled with cultural displays. Hundreds of masquerades, dancers in beautiful attires, acrobatic displays and fetish activities make it one of the traditional festivals in Nigeria you will love to witness.
So with all these colourful, traditional festivals in Nigeria, If you are a tourists, I think it is high time you pack your bags and visit Nigeria to experience some of them. If you have experienced any already, kindly use the comment box below to tell us some of your favourites.