Security was high on Saturday, with a visible presence from security forces including snipers, for Irreecha, celebrated by the Oromo people to mark the start of the harvest season.
Thousands of people dressed in traditional white costumes arrived in buses, cars and by foot from all over the Oromia region to celebrate on the streets of the capital with dancing, singing and flag waving.
“This festivity is a symbol of a transition from darkness to a light,” said Zewidu Megrarobi, 65, a farmer from Yeka, a village located on the outskirts of Addis Ababa.
The Ethiopian Federal Police said nine people were arrested on the eve of the festival for attempting to smuggle weapons into the capital.
The festival is usually held in Bishoftu, a town located in the Oromia region, about 40 kilometres (25 miles) south of Addis Ababa.
The celebrations, which returned to the capital for the first time in 150 years, are due to be followed by a larger event on Sunday in Bishoftu.