he Lagos Cultural Carnival, a yearly celebration that marks the aesthetic lifestyle in the city of Lagos remains the most outstanding and spectacular of all the carnivals held throughout the calendar year in West Africa. The carnival is frequently conducted by the Lagos State Government in conjunction with the Lagos Black Heritage Carnival, a vibrant folk festival that takes place every year in Lagos. The carnival’s origin can be traced back to the Lagos colonial period when former slave returnees from Brazil returned to Lagos in the nineteenth century. In 2009, the official version of the carnival started fully with participants from around the world, who enjoys arts and culture, coming together to celebrate in this illustrious event. The festival is usually held in Lagos Island at the Tafawa Balewa Square popularly known as TBS, and includes troop demonstrations of magnificent costumes as well as various forms of entertainment like music and dancing. The carnival depicts the city’s diverse cultural background, which includes Nigerian, Brazilian, and Cuban influences.
Although there is no set date for the Lagos cultural carnival, the primary organizer – the Lagos State government – always communicates the date each year. It is vibrant, memorable, and aesthetically pleasing; because Lagos is the most populous city in Western Nigeria, and Africa at large, it always attracts a large crowd of Nigerians and Diasporas.
Participants parade through the streets during this cultural celebration amidst applause and singing, displaying the culture and tradition of Lagos residents through dance, costumes with amazing body paints, brilliant and vivid fashion/attire to light up the event in the city.
And, if there is anything Lagos knows how to do best more than every other state in Nigeria is of course, how to party, how to have fun, bringing the best of entertainment to the front line for maximum enjoyment and satisfaction. This carnival is not your average type; it comes fully packed with loads of games and competition, and participants in any of the events during the festival at the festival ground, ranging from trivial questions, puzzles, dancing competition, sporting events, and what have you, get to go home with loads of prizes – win or lose, right or wrong.
During the event, people dressed in costumes perform throughout the carnival to commemorate the city’s lengthy history and cultural celebration. This carnival features a variety of groups with enthralling cultural exhibitions, traditional costumes, and folk music to highlight the state’s rich cultural heritage and tradition. A staged march past is important and several groups danced past the city of Lagos from their various take-off point to the final destination of the event, at the Tafawa Balewa Square, Lagos Island, for the grand event where monetary prizes will be given to the overall winner (group).
There are judges on ground at the event venue – Tafawa Balewa Square, who, discreetly sit somewhere atop the venue ground so as to get a clear view of all the groups participating in the event. Other judges mix up with the crowd to get a closer look at the group as they sing, dance, and choreograph to their own drum and music specially composed for that year’s carnival. The reason the judges are not made known to the public is to avoid any inducement whatsoever by a group or a person that may in the end result in an unfair judgement on the part of the group and the organizers.
The carnival mostly takes place around the Easter holiday celebration period. On some occasions, the weekend after the Easter holiday while in some cases, the weekend before the Easter holiday season. All in all, it is observed in the month of May except on a rare case that it might be postponed at a further date which will be communicated appropriately by the rightful authority in charge of the carnival.
This carnival is not worth missing for anything in the world because it brings every work of life, culture, and tradition together under one atmosphere to celebrate the diversity that the city of Lagos is known for and stand for since its creation on May 27, 1967.