Today marks the celebration of Halloween – a popular western celebration where people dress up in creepy, scary, ghoulish, holy and often creative costumes and let go of their inhibitions. Even though Halloween is more popular in the west, there are quite a number of Nigerian festivals where people dress up in scary costumes to celebrate a particular festival. Different forms of masks, colors and original pieces mark the occasion and excitement in the crowds. Africa’s Number One Hotel Booking Portal, Jovago.com has listed a number of Nigerian festivals where we throw it down like Halloween.
Eyo Festival, Lagos
The Eyo festival was held to escort the soul of a departed Lagos King or Chief and to usher in a new king. The parade happens right in the heart of Lagos with music and traditional displays along major market roads and then to the Iga Idunganran palace. The white-clad Eyo masquerades represent the spirits of the dead and their dance routines will do more than excite you.
Ekpe Festival, Calabar
At Ekpe festivals masked dancers perform wearing hand-crafted masks with scary horns and filed teeth. Best to arrive well before the event because it is preceded by a free-for-all night of dancing and rehearsals for drummers, dancers, chorus leaders and their choric groups. The day of the festival is welcomed with many choral group performances from elderly men and women to children of all ages. The Ekpe Festival is a must-see for the whole family.
Iriji Festival, Enugu
Over 2,000 masqueraders come out and show off their stunts at the Iriji Festival. The festival involves people offering yams to the deities and ancestors before giving to the villages to make spicy yam delicacies. If that doesn’t thrill you, gymnastic performances from the masqueraders (believed to be incarnated dead ancestors) are bound to steal your heart away. The Iriji festival is an epitome of the beauty of Igbo culture and should be seen by anyone visiting Eastern Nigeria.
Osun Festival, Osun
The Sacred Osogbo Forest plays hosts to one of the most culturally preserved festivals in Nigeria. The Osun Festival is held every year for two weeks in August to cleanse the city and reunite its people with their ancestors, the founders of Osogbo Kingdom. People from far and wide come to witness the rich theatrical performances, costumes display, and magical art put together in honour of the Osun river goddess.
Ojude Oba Festival, Ijebu-Ode, Ogun
Who says paying homage to your King can’t be fun? Two days after the Ileya celebrations, the people of Ijebuland dust off their costumes and horses for the Ojude Oba festival, one of fun and colourful display of Yoruba culture. It is a festival whose main purpose is for the people of Ijebu to come together as one to honor their king and is regarded as one of the biggest in West Africa.