December is for carols and the songs of Christmas –– Feliz Na Vidad, Jingle Bell, Joy to the World –– and the special treats of the Santa Claus. But in recent decades, the Yuletide festivity has been expanded into a broad spectrum. Across Nigeria, the last month of the year has been infused with a farrago of festivities that goes beyond the regular Christmas celebration. State governments, ethnic groups and corporate entities have enlarged the December fête with new events, some of which have become firmly entrenched as End-of-Year tradition. And by so, carnivals, concerts, cultural part and the likes, have become features of December.
This growing list of December festivals has invigorated travelling patterns across Nigeria as Nigerians crisscrossed the country to join in revelries that bring the year to a close with fun and colours.
The following four are currently December standout festivals in Nigeria.
Edo Fest, organized by Edo State Ministry of Arts, Culture, Tourism and Diaspora Affairs, is the cultural visage of a state blessed with rich heritage. Debuted in 2017, the festival has come to stay. It has become part of the December fabric of the state. The 2018 edition starts from December 17 to 22, in Benin City, capital of Edo State.
Asides carnival parade on the first day and theatre and stage performance on the second day, the festival’s other highlights include cultural display, food exhibition, fashion show and a mega concert. This year, the state government will also showcase pictures of stolen artefacts and other Benin antiquities.
Among the notable events is an entertainment night set aside for youths and a day for honouring the constellation of stars that have contributed to the growth and development of arts and culture in the state.
Participants have the opportunity to do the real tourist thing, visiting interesting sites across the state.
ANNANG CULTURAL FESTIVAL
In its third year, The Annang Festival of Arts and Culture (AFAC), slated for December 20 to 23 at Ikot Ekpene stadium, has become an annual fixture that the people of Akwa Ibom State look forward to.
The fiesta, hosted in Ikot Ekpene, a.k.a. Raffia City, is a colourful assemblage of the various components of the Annang culture, including a beauty pageant, local food cuisine arts and craft exhibition. An estimated 5, 000 drummers and dance troupes are expected to perform this year, including foreign troupes from Ecuador, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, and Brazil expected to join in the revelry. Nka Nto Annang Foundation, a non-governmental organization, promotes the epic fiesta.
In Calabar, December means festivity. In 14 years ago, the Calabar Carnival has blossomed into a top-notch cultural fete that turns the Cross River State capital into an epicenter of merriment in December. Tagged Africa’s Biggest Street Party, the festival has won Cross River State the gilded reputation of a premier December destination for Nigerians and tourists all over the world.
The one month long festivity is a bouquet of attractions: fashion show, beauty pageant, boat regatta, street parade et cetera. Its bikers’ parade is always a delight. This year, incumbent and former governors, Ayade and Duke, will lead two bikers’ gangs, Scorpio and Aviators, respectively.
Calabar Carnival is “December’s grand rendezvous.” For anyone willing to end the year in grand style, “doing Calabar” is the real deal. There is a thousand-and-one reason to be in Calabar every December. The jollities of December in Calabar is the big idea of how to end a year on a high.
ONE LAGOS FIESTA
For the fourth edition of One Lagos Fiesta, the Lagos State Government is pulling all the stops to give the citizens “a December to remember.”
One Lagos festival (OLF), a flagship eight-day, non-stop, an end of year gig conceived and promoted by Lagos State Government, is a musical event that features the country’s biggest musicians, and so far, it is in sync with Lagos’ status as Africa’s hub of entertainment. In just four years, it has become one of the biggest end-of-the-year entertainment brands in Africa.
Lagosians who would spend their vacation in the city will have a range of musical delights wherever they reside in the sprawling metropolis of the megacity.
The One Lagos gig, commencing on December 24 and lasting till the small hour of January 1, 2019, as usual will take place simultaneously at five different venues––Agege, Bar Beach, Epe, Ikorodu and Badagry––with the grand finale at Eko Atlantic City.
With the caliber of A-list artistes expected to perform this year––the likes of Olamide, Teni, Slimcase, Mr Real, Humblesmith, Blackky, Mr P and the fuji maestros, Adewale Ayuba and Saheed Osupa––no fewer than two million participants are expected to throng the venues with additional 90 million watching on live TV.