December in Lagos is full of experiences that are not to be missed, and Detty December is full of food, music, beach parties and nightlife. Beyond being a time for IJGBs to visit their family and friends, it’s also a time for them to explore the country and have fun.
As a Nigerian born and raised in the UK, I travelled to Lagos for the first time on my own as an adult, compared to other holidays in the past when my mum organised our spending money and transferred it through Western Union, packed gifts in our suitcases for relatives, and called people she knew at the airport to help us navigate upon arrival.
After experiencing my first Detty December in Lagos in 2020, I traveled back to Nigeria almost every December after that. Nevertheless, I would have appreciated a readily available guide to help me prepare adequately for the trip, make the most of my time in Lagos, and ensure I didn’t miss out on major events upon my return home. So, because I’m nice, here’s a guide to help you navigate Lagos as an IJGB.
Last year, after booking flights and accommodation, I started searching for an easier way to move money to spend in Nigeria without having to transfer it all and carry large sums of cash around (which is not advisable in any country you’re travelling to). I found several apps such as LemFi that let you transfer your currency to naira, which was greatly celebrated as I no longer needed to pay fees to spend my hard-earned cash in my country of origin.
When looking for accommodation, it’s integral for you to book well in advance and make sure you are booking through secure websites.
Vaccinations and anti-malaria medications are also things to not gloss over, especially if you are visiting Nigeria for the first time. You’ll also need an NIN number (which you can get anywhere in the world) if you plan on getting a sim card, opening your own bank account or buying portable WiFi during your stay in Lagos. This all makes for an easier time in the country as you’ll be able to move around freely and remain online.
Making the most out of Lagos
Despite the excessive hike in flight costs in December, travelling to Lagos during the festive period compares to no other time during the year. From parties and nightlife, music concerts, round-the-clock suya, food festivals, street food and fine dining, to private beach parties, fireworks and an abundantly cheerful crowd of people from all over the world, you can travel to Nigeria every December and have a completely unique experience each time.
Lagos is known for its vibrant nightlife all year round, but it reaches a peak during December. Clubs, bars, and lounges host special events and parties, attracting both locals and tourists. It’s a time for people to let loose and enjoy themselves. Back in 2020, I was reliant on word of mouth to find out which parties and bars were the hotspots to attend. Now, there are several social media pages that give you the rundown on where to be in Lagos, which acts like a virtual tour guide, to say the least.
You can find yourself at the infamous Obi’s House at HardRock Cafe on a Monday, an EDM party (ActivityFest) on the Good Beach on Thursday, and by Friday, you are getting ready to attend an all-female-led music festival (NeoFest) at Landmark beach, and on Sunday you are getting on a speed boat to party some more at HOV beach Lagos. Additionally, the globally recognised Afronation event is heading to Lagos this year (for the first time) following its success in Ghana in 2022. One can conclude that all roads lead to Lagos and the only thing that will be sacrificed is sleep.
Lagos has beautifully crafted beach shores, and beach parties/concerts are a popular way to celebrate Detty December. People gather on the warm sand for picnics, barbecues, and water sports. I only recently learned that Lagos is a great place to Scuba Dive. You can go to ScubaLagos, for instance. You’ll get to swim with fish, and cuttlefish and maybe even see an octopus or two.
Lagos is rich in culture, and December often sees cultural festivals and events celebrating the city’s heritage. These events showcase traditional music, dance, and art.
Lagosians love their food
For the introverts who don’t particularly want to basque in the glory of 72-hour partying streaks, you’ll be able to get lost in all the amazing cuisines Lagos has to offer. I found myself making a list of restaurants on the mainland and Island that were must-visits. When I landed, that list completely went out of the window as I was ushered to new restaurants that I hadn’t even discovered on my quest to make a detailed eating itinerary. Lagos truly has it all. I had breakfast at nbn cafe, a cereal cafe in Lekki Phase 1, lunch brunch at Maple Lagos, lunch at Circa Lagos, and dinner RSVP Lagos. This was all just on the Island. You can quite literally be served food just about anywhere, including hotspots like W bar and private members clubs such as Breeze Beach Club and MAKō.
I travelled to Ikeja just to eat fish at Cubana, experienced the settings at Wakame Restaurant and visited Rhapsody Lagos too (all in one day, might I add). December is a time for food festivals and outdoor dining. You can find a wide variety of Nigerian and international cuisines at food festivals and street food vendors. It has almost become a tradition of mine to head to Mega Chicken the moment I step out of the airport.
Those shying away from the party scene can also enjoy art galleries, wine-tasting events, spas and beauty wellness centres, as well as non-stop shopping. December is known as a busy shopping season in Lagos, with people buying new clothes, gifts, and other items for the holiday season. Markets and shopping malls are bustling with eager buyers.
The possibilities are endless
I couldn’t begin to list every restaurant, spa and club in Lagos, and by no means could I include all the festivals and concerts that are set to take place in December this year. I do know, however, that my Detty December 2023 experience will be a completely new one to that of the ones I’ve had in the past.
It’s important to note that with all the festivities, Lagos can experience heavy traffic congestion and large crowds during Detty December. Planning ahead and using public transportation can be helpful.
Whether you’re a Lagosian or an IJGB (I just got back), Detty December in Lagos is a time of joy, celebration, and togetherness. It’s when people come together to enjoy the holiday season and usher in the new year with a sense of excitement and positivity.