4 Literary Festivals in Nigeria to Look Out For in 2024


Nigeria, a country known for its vibrant and diverse culture, has a rich literary tradition that dates back to the early 20th century.

With over 250 ethnic groups and a population of approximately 210 million people, Nigeria has become a hub for literary creativity and expression.

Nigerian literature has gained international recognition and has produced world-renowned authors such as Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

These writers have not only put Nigerian literature on the map but they have also contributed significantly to the global literary canon. The Nigerian literary scene thrives with active publishers, bookstores, and a burgeoning community of established and emerging writers. Farafina, Saraba, and Brittle Paper offer writers a stage to present their work and join critical discussions.

In recent years, Nigeria has witnessed a surge in the popularity of literary festivals, which have become an integral part of the literary ecosystem. These festivals serve as gathering points for writers, readers, publishers, and literary enthusiasts from within and outside the country.


Origins and development of literary festivals in Nigeria

The origins of literary festivals in Nigeria can be traced back to the 1960s when the country gained independence. As Nigeria transitioned into a post-colonial nation, there was a renewed interest in celebrating Nigerian literature and culture. Chinua Achebe, Christopher Okigbo, and Chinweizu established the Mbari Writers and Artists Club in Ibadan in 1961. It marked Nigeria’s first significant literary festival.

The club provided a space for writers, artists, and intellectuals to engage in vibrant discussions and presentations of their work. However, it was not until the 21st century that literary festivals started gaining widespread popularity in Nigeria.

The Ake Arts and Book Festival, founded in 2013 by Lola Shoneyin, marked a turning point in the Nigerian literary landscape.

This festival, held annually in Abeokuta, showcases Nigerian and international writers through book readings, panel discussions, and performances.

The Lagos International Poetry Festival, Kaduna Book and Arts Festival, and Port Harcourt Book Festival attract global recognition.


They also attract renowned authors, literary agents, and publishers from around the world, making them vital spaces for literary exchange and collaboration.

Nigeria’s literary festivals have played a crucial role in nurturing and promoting the country’s literary heritage.

Nigerian literature surged from humble 1960s origins to today’s vibrant festivals, propelling it onto the global stage.


Major Literary Festivals in Nigeria

Lagos International Poetry Festival

The Lagos International Poetry Festival is held annually in Lagos, Nigeria. It was founded in 2015 to create a platform for poets to showcase their work.

The festival features poetry performances, readings, workshops, panel discussions, and book launches. It also includes open mic sessions where emerging poets can share their work.

The festival has attracted renowned poets and writers from Nigeria and around the world. Notable speakers include Warsan Shire, Inua Ellams, and Jumoke Verissimo.

The Lagos International Poetry Festival has provided a platform for Nigerian poets to gain exposure and connect with other writers. It has also helped to promote the appreciation of poetry in Nigeria.


Ake Arts & Book Festival

The Ake Arts & Book Festival takes place annually in Abeokuta, Nigeria. It was founded in 2013 by writer Lola Shoneyin to showcase African literature and storytelling.


The festival aims to celebrate and promote African literature and storytelling through panel discussions, book launches, and performances by African writers and storytellers.

The festival offers workshops and panels targeted at aspiring writers, providing them with opportunities to learn from experienced authors and improve their craft.

The Ake Arts & Book Festival showcases Nigerian authors’ work and helps promote their books to a wider audience.

Attendees of the festival have the chance to network with authors, publishers, and literary agents, creating opportunities for collaboration and professional growth.


Port Harcourt Book Festival

The Port Harcourt Book Festival is an annual event in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. It was first organized in 2008 to promote African literature and culture.

The festival aims to celebrate and highlight African literature and culture through a diverse range of activities, including book readings, performances, and cultural displays.

The Port Harcourt Book Festival includes literary competitions and awards to recognize and reward outstanding African writers and their contributions to literature.

The festival embraces technology by incorporating digital platforms for book sales and online discussions, ensuring wider accessibility to literary events and discussions.


Festival Poetry Calabar

Festival Poetry Calabar is a 3-day event that hosts poets, writers, artists, literary critics, social commentators, and lovers of literature from different parts of the country.

Activities of the festival include poetry readings and performances, music, drama, cultural dance, poetry workshops, book chats, art exhibitions, and panel discussions.

The event has featured poets, writers, literary administrators, journalists, and social advocates such as Odoh Diego Okeyodo, Chuma Nwokolo, Jonathan Abang Ugbal, Hope Obetan, Joseph Okorn, Kalejaye Folajimi and others.

Also,  Prof. Joe Ushie from the University of Uyo, Agbor Enya (‘Lines from the Scroll’), Kolade Olanrewaju Freedom (‘Punctured Silence’), and Awodiya Funke (‘The Farmer’s Daughter’).

‘Sight and Sounds of Calabar’ is one of the key activities of the festival that exposes the participants to both fun and learning. “On the third day of the festival, participants are taken to visit symbolic places such as the Old Residency Museum, Oldest Music recording studio in West Africa, and Aqua Vista.


Overall, Nigeria’s literary festivals provide valuable opportunities for writers to showcase their work, gain exposure, and connect with fellow authors and industry professionals.

They also play a significant role in promoting African literature and culture, fostering creativity, and nurturing the literary community in Nigeria.

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