Attending Literary Festivals in Nigeria

Prepare to have a magical experience without the Naija factor hindering you.

 Two famous literary festivals that occur in Nigeria are the Ake Arts and Book Festival and Lagos International Poetry Festival.

I’ve virtually attended both through twits, pictures, blog posts, live-streams and reviews. I have been counting down to attending if not one but both festivals. I hope these help with your preparations for literary festivals.

Why are you attending? Purpose of attendance will help you make the best of your experience. Understand the theme of the festival before you attend. Visit the websites of the festival for information about the festival, its theme, events, guests, reviews and organizers. Follow their Twitter, Instagram and Facebook account to view previous festivals and ask questions. Note the day and prices for festival events you’d specifically like to attend. Read the profiles about the guests and discover creatives.

Register Early: Participate in ticket giveaways, luckily you might win. If not, head to the official website of the festival and register early to enjoy the early bird fees. Make payments and get your tickets. Follow up! Don’t just attend, volunteer! Volunteers might not pay for certain expenses. Volunteering offers you the opportunity to use and gain skills. Volunteer positions for festivals are competitive and quickly taken. Pick out the events that suit your interests, if they aren’t free, pay on time. Most festivals offer the opportunity to buy tickets at the venue. But they quickly finish even at the increased rates. Asides registering early, get to the venue of the festival African time you.

Comfortably Slay:  Wear comfortable clothes o. The weather in Nigeria is erratic. Some African literary festival outfits are chic Africana(ie. ankara clothes) vibrant fabrics and flamboyant accessories, adventurous hairstyles, full traditional regalias, self descriptive tshirts and denim. If you are a book blogger or SME bookseller wear attractive customized tshirt with links to your socials and sites. Hold a bag that can take your purchases. If you’re forgetful like me. You don’t want to forget your signed copy of a modern classic, festival docket or debut magazine. You’ll walk about all day so wear comfortable footwear. If you’re comfortable in heeled boots or mini leather skirt, strut it Gem. Don’t forget to slay and be creative. You can wear an outfit that fits the festival’s theme or a character of a book featured in a discussion, chat or panel you’ll attend.

Avoid Transportation Hassles; Have extra money for transportation as traffic attracts price hikes in Nigeria. Whether you’re on a danfo, bike or cab, have extra money in cash. The nearby ATM machines might not have cash in them because of the crowd. Utilize discount cab fare promos available during the festival. I’d advice you use cabs for leaving at night. Most of the festivals end midnight-ish, late. I remember regrettably walking out of the exciting poetry readings at chilly Muson Centre during LIPFest in 2015.  Often too late for safe rides in scarce public transport off and around the city (eg. the Island in Lagos). If its possible find somewhere close by to the venue of the festival to stay.

Purchase List: Have a purchase list for your desired buys.  Books, poetry albums, souvenirs, fashion pieces, food, films, arts, etc. I’m serious..literally have a list with a budget. While sticking to the list and your budget, get your purchases autographed if there are opportunities for that. Keep cash safely at hand. Ask for discounts when you purchase items. They are sometimes sold at relatively cheaper or discounted prices.

Have fun but network: Don’t be shy. Introduce yourself, brand and works. Chat, compliment, question and discuss with other attendants, facilitators and your favorite guests. Be interactive during book chats, discussions, panels, etc. Follow them on social media. Take pictures of yourself, others, the festival environs. Don’t feel excessive especially if you need content for reviews on your blog and socials. Bring your gadgets and their chargers, there will be charging outlets and free wifi.

Stay Safe: A festival is a very public space. Please be cautious, polite and security conscious. Don’t leave your things, food or pass unattended with anyone no matter the length of time. Make sure you are with your pass, dockets for every day your attend the festival. Leave the festival when you are comfortable and safe. Especially if you’re alone or tipsy on palm wine.

I hope these tips help you prepare for that literary festival. Have a magical experience Gem! Tag me your pictures on Instagram.


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