21 Most Popularly Celebrated Festivals in Nigeria

Festivals are celebrations of cultural, traditional, and religious heritages which are celebrated by people of a certain culture, traditions, or religious belief.

It has been an old term celebration laid down from generation to generation. Most of the festivals we see today have been in existence for years and will continue to exist. Every part of the world has its own festivals related to either their cultures, traditions or religious beliefs which they perform.

Festivals are mostly performed in honor of the gods of the people that celebrate them. Others also celebrate festivals for fun, social and economic values. They’re mainly a form of entertainment through a showing of dance, music, cultural clothes, delicacies, and the performing of religious rites.

Nigeria as a country has a lot of festivals celebrated by all the various inhabitants. From the same religion, tribes and even places have festivals in honor of their duo. 

Festivals are normally something of constant time either through natural moon counting, market days, or auspicious days of things like the new year, first rain, foods, and many others. Most festivals are generally celebrated annually however they’re many festivals that are done twice or many times in a year.

For a diverse country like Nigeria with many religious beliefs like Islam, Christianity, and traditional religion and up to 371 different ethnic groups, festivals are very numerous and validly acknowledged.

All the various ethnic groups in Nigeria the 36 States in Nigeria have at least one or more festivals which they celebrate. So virtually more than 371 festivals are celebrated every year in Nigeria not to mention the religious and societal festive.

Among these festivals are some of the most popularly celebrated in Nigeria with lots of awareness and enthusiasm.

Most Popularly Celebrated Festivals in Nigeria

Top Most Popularly Celebrated Festivals in Nigeria

Some of the popularly celebrated festivals in Nigeria are as follows

1. The Durbar festival

The Durbar Festival is sometimes referred to as Hawan Sallah or Daushe. It is one of the most beautifully celebrated festivals in Nigeria particularly by the people of northern Nigeria in honor of the Eid-Adha and Fitr. It is normally performed after the Eid celebration.

The Durbar festival is first started with prayers then followed by a colorful display of Horses by the emir and his people towards the palace. The festival also involves competitions with African music and flutes.

2. The New Yam Festival

The new yam festival is an annual celebration done by the people of the southern, western, and the Idoma tribe in  Nigeria. The festival is one of the most popular in the country with a very high percentage of the country’s population performing it.

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New yam festival is celebrated annually in August marking the end of the rainy season to thank the gods through colorful displays of traditional and cultural clothes, masquerades, peculiar dance, and traditional rites in order to appease the gods for successful farming and to start another fresh year. The festival is normally celebrated with the delicacies of the season’s yam.

3. The Argungu fishing festival

Another most popularly celebrated festival in Nigeria is the Argungu fishing festival celebrated by the people of the Northeastern part of Nigeria particularly Kebbi state.

The festival is conducted every year and everyone from Kebbi state can participate. The festival allows all fishermen from all parts of the state to compete together in order to know who catches the biggest fish using the traditional nets. The festival is fun with a lot of colorful displays and functions.

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4. Eyo festival

Due to the geography of this festival, it can be stated as the most popular festival in Nigeria. It is celebrated in Lagos by the natives often known as the Isale Eko.

It is done annually every May. The festival involves the display of masquerades, music, dances, and beautiful displays of traditional attire.

The festival also displays the beautiful cultures of the Yoruba, the inhabitants of the western part of Nigeria.

5. Osun-Osogbo festival

The Osun-Osogbo festival is a long-term celebration festival of the Osun state people in the western part of Nigeria in the memory of their river goddess.

Celebrated every August annually, the festival is a two weeks celebration that involves making sacrifices to appease the gods and other traditional rites. The festival is beautifully celebrated with displays of costumes, music, and dance.

6. The Calabar Carnival

Often referred to as the most revered carnival festival in Nigeria and African as a whole, The Calabar Carnival is celebrated by the Calabars of the southern part of Nigeria. It is one of the most beautifully decorated festivals in Nigeria with lots of costumes and cultural clothes. The festival also involves dancing to traditional African music.

7. Carniriv

The Carniriv is a beautiful celebrated festival done by the people of Port Harcourt, the southern part of Nigeria. The festival includes showing off traditional attire, aquatic fiesta, and cultural music.

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8. Ofala Festival

The Ofala festival is among the oldest African festivals in Nigeria performed by the Igbo people of the eastern part of Nigeria. It is a festival performed in the memory of the thirteenth month of the Igbo calendar and also marks the beginning of another Igbo year (Igu Aro) and to celebrate and honor the traditional rulers for their wisdom in managing the land.

9. Ojude Oba festival

The Ojude Oba festival was introduced in 1882 in memory of the Oba Adesumbo Tunwase of Ijebu. The festival is normally celebrated every year on the third year of Eid Kabir in the Oba Palace. The name is coined from two Yoruba words meaning “Festival in the King’s court.”

10. The Lagos Carnival

The Lagos carnival which is celebrated on Lagos island is one of the most anticipated festivals in Nigeria. The festival showcase the beautiful black heritages of Nigeria, Liberia, Brazil, Cuba & Sierra Leone.  It was normally performed by the slave returnees of the various countries together.

11. Ibegwu Festival

The Ibegwu festival is a traditional festival performed by the Igala people of Kogi State, Northcentral part of Nigeria. The festival is performed annually between March and April. It is one of the most anticipated festivals in Nigeria with lots of African traditional displays.

It is solely done to appease the dead (ancestors) for their benevolence and care towards them. It is performed by lots of animals and masquerades are paraded in almost all parts of the territory during the celebration. There’s also a section for Igala traditional dance called (Ogba) and music.

12. Sango festival

Among the most celebrated festivals in Nigeria is the popular Sango festival. It is celebrated in the western part of Nigeria by the Yoruba tribe in honor of the Yoruba god called Sango.

It is held annually by the traditional believers of the Yoruba extracts. The festival involves the slaughtering of animals, playing Yoruba songs, and cultural dance. The festival is also beautified with various natural costumes and designs.

13. Mmanwu festival

The Mmanwu festival is held in Enugu state, in South eastern part of Nigeria. It is also one of the most popular among the locals. The festival involves the display of different types of masquerades each representing all the villages in the place. It is believed that the masquerades are worn by people who are spirit-possessed by the ancestors of the land.

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14. National festival of arts (Nafest)

The Nationals festival of arts is a Nigerian own festival established to promote national unity, peace, and awareness through showing the Nigerian arts from all the various parts of the country.

Part of the festival celebrations includes paintings, drama, music, dance, poetry, sculpting, and other beautiful displays of Nigerian arts.

15. Eko International Film Festival (Ekiff)

The Eko international film festival is an established festival performed in Lagos to enhance and encourage Nigerian actors and actresses. The festival helps to feature filmmakers from both Europe and other continents to help in promoting the Nigerian movie industry through screen records and discussions.

16. Felabration

The Felabration is one of the popular festivals in Nigeria celebrated in honor of the veteran Nigerian afro-beat singer, Fela Kuti. The felabration is normally celebrated at the New Afrika Shrine.

17. The Egungun festival

The Egungun festival is one of the most celebrated festivals in Nigeria by the Egbas and Egbados of Yoruba people of western Nigeria, Oyo precisely.

The festival is celebrated annually in November during the dry seasons with the belief that the ancestors should not suffer in the rain. 

18. Social media week Lagos

The Lagos social media week is an annual festival mostly fostered by technology enthusiasts. It is a festival held to create awareness in the social media and digital marketing field.

19. Lagos International Jazz Festival

Another popular festival in Nigeria is the jazz festival held annually in Lagos to show the impressive gestures of Jazz music as an art form.

It features various local and international Jazz acts, as well as Jazz workshops, lectures, concerts, and exhibitions.

20. Lagos Theater Festival

The Lagos theatre festival is an internationally known festival organized in the city of Lagos which gives room for artists both international and locals to perform. It is a week-long glorious event. The features include music, comedy, dance, theatre performances, film, cabaret, and poetry.

21. The Abuja Carnival

Funded by the Carnival Roadshow company, the Abuja carnival is one of the biggest festivals in Nigeria. It is normally performed in November every year with many features such as music, dance, cultural displays, and magic shows. It is the most anticipated festival celebrated in the heart of the Nigeria capital, Abuja.

Final words

Here you have it, the 21 most popular festivals in Nigeria you should consider attending. Did we miss anyone? Let us know in the comment section.

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