When Until 1 January
The Calabar Festival is our favourite way to close out the year. You’re spoilt for choice during this month-long festival, which packs out the calendar with theatre performances, food and fashion fairs, and stellar music performances. Everyone from Nelly and NeYo to Alpha Blondy and Akon have performed here, and every year there’s a diverse lineup.
The main stars, though, are the five carnival bands that headline the Calabar Carnival, which is the culmination of the festival. Held over two days at the end of December, it’s called ‘Africa’s Biggest Street Party’, and it lives up to its name. A parade of around 100,000 costumed partiers showcase the dance, drama, and music of the region.
The theme the organisers have chosen to put a much-needed spotlight on is climate change. Look out throughout the month for events around the theme, in addition to the other events that pack out the festival, from fashion shows, beauty pageants, a football cup, a regatta, and traditional dances.
When 11 December
There is arguably no sport that unites the world more than football. It’s played everywhere, on all terrain, but nowhere is it more laid back than on the world’s beaches, where itinerant surfers and sun-seekers wander into matches, even those already in play, and are often welcomed immediately into the team. The sport of beach soccer has evolved from this into a regulated, refereed one, but the happy, carefree atmosphere of the beach remains. Copa Lagos is a hugely anticipated event for aficionados of the sport, not least because Nigeria has one of the best beach-soccer leagues in the world. And amusingly, the landlocked country of Switzerland does as well, so the two teams will face off. Will Switzerland be the Cool Runnings of beach soccer? You’ll have to head to the shore to find out.
Surrounding the main event are concerts and parties, so it’s best to plan your schedule ahead.
Social Media Week
When 27 February 27 to 3 March
In a short few years, Lagos has become a nexus for tech in West Africa, connecting entrepreneurs, creatives, designers, social enterprises, and other visionaries with each other and getting the rest of the world’s interest piqued. Social Media Week is an annual conference where all of that energy comes together, bursting forth with hundreds of events, research, and education. It’s the largest tech, new media, and business conference on the continent, with over 12,000 participants. Past featured events include a Future Of Media summit, masterclasses in understanding analytics, making connections and building communities, talks by entrepreneurs and tech giants, and seminars on everything from innovation to storytelling. It’s free and open to the public, and remains accessible to all, as befits the theme.
socialmediaweek.org/lagos, and of course, follow them on social media…
When Until 2 January
London has a reputation for wintertime grumpiness and constant moaning about the weather, but we have no idea why – especially when we’re at Winter Wonderland, a sprawling celebration of all things wintry. Londoners come in droves to Hyde Park and Winter Wonderland caters for them all, from young children enjoying the rides and side shows to groups of colleagues coming after work to enjoy the many mulled wine bars and food stalls dotted around the park.
Best of all, entrance is free, although some events are ticketed. These ones are worth it, though, with affordable prices for the shows at Zippo’s Circus and Cirque Berserk, which brings a thrilling spin to traditional circus show-stoppers, and the Ice Rink, which is the UK’s largest outdoor ice-skating arena. This year is the 10th Anniversary celebrations, so look out for performances of The Nutcracker on ice, and the Magical Ice Kingdom, which features an ice castle complete with an ice slide, huge snow sculptures, and an Ice Bar, where it’s guaranteed that you’ll never get a warm beer again.
No winter festival would be complete without Santa making an appearance, of course, and at Winter Wonderland here’s there for the whole month, taking a break from the North Pole and taking up residence with his elves, who have a sack of free gifts for the children who come to visit. You can also buy your own gifts at the Christmas Markets around the park, which offer hundreds of stalls making handmade goodies.
Ultra South Africa
When 25 February
Make sure you have a good long stretch before you come to Ultra, because you’ll be dancing till dawn at this festival of electronic dance music. The headliners won’t just be familiar to EDM-heads, either – David Guetta and Martin Garrix are icons for club kids the world over. Those in Cape Town and Johannesburg are in eager anticipation for the rest of the lineup, which will be revealed on Ultra’s website closer to the date, although rumours abound online. The Nasrec Expo Centre is Johannesburg’s venue – you can buy tickets there, but you have much more chance of getting entry if you get a ticket online. Tickets range from R800 for a Tier 1 ticket all the way to a whopping R3000 VVIP ticket, which gets you complimentary bar and food service, access to the VVIP lounge.