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The Best Annual Cultural Festivals in Nigeria

There’s so much more going on in the Nigerian cultural scene than Afrobeats and Nollywood. Nigeria is one of the coolest and liveliest countries in the Africa continent. The country offers to inhabitants and visitors interesting festivals like Eyo festival and Argungu festival. There’s a festival for everyone – find your new favourite with this list of the best annual cultural festivals in Nigeria. Here’s our list of the best festivals to visit in Nigeria, they will have you living like a local. Experience the people, culture and creativity.

We also recommend our guide to the Calabar carnival and cultural fiesta 2017.

Ofala Festival

ofala festival best events in nigeria
The Obi of Onitsha, His Majesty Igwe Nnaemeka Alfred Ugochukwu Achebe. © Chinyere Njoku

Ofala festival celebration in Igbo ethnic of Nigeria, the festival is peculiar to the indigenes of Onitsha. Onitsha is located in Anambra State, in the South-Eastern part of Nigeria. An annual cultural festival that celebrates the rich culture of the Onitsha people. The Ofala festival serves as traditional and ceremonial rites to the tradition of monarchy and Obi of Onitsha (the King of Onitsha). The festival is celebrated within two days, precisely in the month of October, the period that is the climax of the celebration of the new yam. This is a great event to attend and discover some of the royal music and dances, as well as the tasty local cuisine.

Eyo Festival

Nigeria eyo festival
Eyo Festival – © boj_n/flickr

This festival is know and being celebrated by the people of Lagos island popularly known as “Eko” which means Hinterland of Lagos. The Eyo festival is held to escort the departed soul of the Lagos King and to also usher in a new King. During this festival, white clad masquerades are being seen dancing with staffs called “Opa Ambata” and these masquerades represent the spirits of the dead and are also referred to as “Agogoro Eyo” (Tall Eyo) in Yoruba language.

Argungu Fishing Festival

The Best Annual Cultural Festivals in Nigeria
Argungu fishing festival in in Kebbi State, Nigeria. © Un_due_travel_radioshow/instagram

The Argungu festival is one of the major fishing festivals being held annually for a duration of four days in kebbi state which is located in the northern region of Nigeria. The major purpose of the festival is for fishing and also to promote unity amongst the people. Various people travel from various parts of the world to experience this festival which began in the year 1934 as a mark of the end of the hostility between the Sokoto caliphate and the Kebbi Kingdom. The festival is now one of the major festival which both people from within Nigeria and abroad look forward to annually. Thanks main even of the festival is the competition between over 30,000 fishermen who go into the Mata Fada river in search of the biggest fish and who ever gets the biggest catch goes home with over $7,500 in cash.

New Yam Festival

Nigeria new yam festival
New Yam Festival – © Juju Films/flickr

This is an annual cultural festival which is held at the end of the rainy season in the month of August by the igbo people. A prime cultural festival in Nigeria that symbolises the conclusion of a harvest. This festival is being celebrated with a feast of new yam and an offering is also being made to the spirits of the field with reference to the presiding deity of the team crop. This ritual is being performed by eldest man in the community by offering the yams to God, deities and ancestors by showing gratitude to God for his continuous protection and kindness in leading them from season to season without results of deaths and hunger.

Oro Festival

oro popular festivals in nigeria
Oro festival – © hometown.ng

The oro festival is one of the major cultural festivals in Nigeria – a ritual celebrated by specific towns in the Yoruba origin. The Oro festival is a celebration of the passing away of a notable personality. This ritual is being celebrated by male descendants who are paternal natives of the specific town celebrating the event taking. It is said that women and none natives of the town celebrating this festival must stay indoors as the ritual must not be seen by these people.

Igue Festival

ague festival Best Festivals in Nigeria
Igue Festival, Benin, Edo state, Nigeria – © Kunle Ogunfuyi/flickr

The igue festival is known to be celebrated amongst the Benin people. The festival which is being celebrated between Christmas and New year is being done to renew Oba Ewuare’s magical powers. The Oba is being prohibited to be in the presence of a non native person during the ritual season.

Calabar Carnival

The Calabar carnival – the Africa’s biggest street party in held Calabar, with wild street parties and extravagant costumes. An annual event that is celebrated for a whole month – begins every 1 December and lasts until 31 December. Catchy music that take over the city for a couple of weeks before the new year. A festival like no other, with unique carnival culture, one befitting of this massive, vibrant coastal city where everything is possible. Now, the carnival has boosted cultural relevance of the Calabar within and outside the State, as well as beyond Nigeria.

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Memories from the Carnival @gogeafrica

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