We can customize your trip by spending only the number of days at the Festival that you prefer in addition to exploring the rest of Morocco according to your interest………
Marrakech Popular Arts Festival July / Marrakech
For five days now, the bustling city of Marrakech manages to cram in even more popular sights and sounds than it boasts already during the Marrakech Popular Arts Festival.
The El- Badi Palace in particular acts as the centre of events over the course of the festival. Built in the 16th century by El Mansour to house his court, the legendarily grand structure was entirely stripped by Moulay Ismaiel a century later. Although the only remains today are the red walls and the ruined foundations of a few internal structures, there is no denying the imposing scale of the place.
During the rest of the year, when it plays home mainly to a colony of nesting storks, El Badi is a peaceful respite from the bustle of Marrakech Medina. For the duration of the festival, however, its courtyards are packed with enthusiastic performers and spectators. From the Berber musicians and dancers of the High Atlas to the Andalous-inspired musicians of the North, from the trance-inducing music of the Southern Gnawas to the art of the belly dancer, every element of Moroccan culture combines to create a vibrant impression for visitors and locals alike.
If a simple visit to the Place Djemaa El-Fnaa has inspired you on a previous trip, imagine the impact this hospitable town can have during its own music festival.
Fez Sacred Music Festival June / Fez
Artists from around the world flock to Morocco’s spiritual capital during the annual Fez Sacred Music Festival. The event features performances in a variety of styles, ranging from local Sufi chants to haunting gypsy songs from Spain – a romantic setting for a fine selection of devotional music.
The spread of the gypsy-inspired style is such that musicians from France to Rajasthan can find common ground – and they certainly do over the course of this event, with double bills and collaborative performances forming the majority of the program.
To satisfy even the most demanding customer, organizers add annual spectaculars to each year’s program. This has included Whirling Dervishes from Iran. There are also concerts on the Bab Boujloud Square, children’s educational activities and the famous Sufi nights at Dar Tazi……and much more.
Essaouira Gnaoua and World Music Festival June / Essaouira
Essaouira Gnawa and World Music Festival is a celebration of the mysterious music of the Gnawas, the product of a mystic tradition with branches as widespread as Haitian voodoo and Brazilian Candomblé. A picturesque port painted in blue and white, Essaouira is the ideal resort that most travelers dream of when they think of North Africa: laid-back and yet vibrant, atmospheric and relaxing.
The town’s status as an independent travelers’ favorite makes it the perfect venue for a festival devoted to the feats of the Gnawas, best known for their tasseled hats, which spin wildly as the musicians rock, entranced by their own music. Artists appearing include the best musicians of the genre as well as performers from around the world.
Originating through a cross-pollination of African magic and Islamic rituals, the Gnawa brotherhoods form a structured unit around a Master, who leads music and dancing until the participants are in a state of trance. The mesmerizing rhythms of the drums, the guenbri (a form of lute) and the hand-held garagab (metal castanets) lead performers into a trance-like state – during religious ceremonies, Gnawas have even been known to impale themselves on swords or beat their heads with iron balls without sustaining any visible external injuries.
Faint-hearted visitors will be pleased to know that the Essaouira Festival does not feature such extreme performances: the program focuses on the purely musical elements of Gnawa tradition and their influence on African-inspired music.
The Marathon des Sables (5025 bytes) April / Ouarzazate
The Sand Marathon, which takes place close to Ouarzazate, caters for the truly dedicated sportsmen and women who take on the grueling 150 miles (240km) of the course over seven long days. Certainly not for the faint-hearted, this is a race for those with a will of iron and an even stronger constitution.
Around 600 competitors from 30 countries take part every year. The race includes a full marathon on one day, and a 50-mile stage, as well as others of differing length and terrain. Competitors must carry all their equipment on their backs. Only a carefully rationed 2 gallons of water and open-sided local tents are provided daily by the organizers.
Based in the scenic, craggy desert outside Ouarzazate, marathon life centers around the camp in which competitors rest after a day’s running. The Sand Marathon is without a doubt one of the most rewarding and intense races in the world.
Rose feast May /El Kelaa des M’Gouna
The Valley of the Roses – El Kelaa des M’Gouna – the only town of any note in the area – acts as Morocco’s rose capital, a vast distilling plant there producing the gallons of scented rose-water so popular in the nation’s cooking and perfumery. Although El Kelaa smells divine all year round, the best time to visit is in late May when the rose farmers from the surrounding hills gather to celebrate the year’s harvest. With ten tons of petals required to produce a few litres of precious oil, the harvest is understandably a labor of love, and the culminating festivities are all the livelier for it.
A souk (market) springs up along El Kelaa’s main street, with plenty of music and dancing to brighten up the proceedings. A Rose Queen is also elected to reign over the year’s scented crop.
Cherry Feast June/Sefrou, Fez
Sefrou’s Cherry Festival is, in fact, a celebration of the cherry harvest as opposed to a cherry feast, though you can be sure there will be no shortage of the delicious little fruits to sample. It takes place in an ancient walled town, one of the oldest in the area, pre-dating even Fez’s 8th-century structures. Sefrou lies on the rising slopes of the Middle Atlas, the ideal ground for the thousands of cherry trees which lend the town its fruity renown.
The harvest is celebrated over three days in June with music, dance and the mandatory colorful souk (market). There are numerous sporting competitions, a torch-light procession, a fairground, and finally the election of Miss Cherry with a parade by her admiring followers.
Camel Festival July / Tan Tan Road, Goulimine
The people of Goulimine hold an annual Camel Festival on top of their weekly Camel Fair (every Saturday).
Once known as the “gateway to the Sahara”, Goulimine is now less of a border town – due mainly to the decline of the camel as a mode of transport.
The festival also offers the opportunity to witness the ancient dance ritual known as the Guedra, which is associated with Goulimine. The dance is performed by a woman to the beat of a drum made of a kitchen pot (guedra) and the chanting and clapping of onlookers. The dance often induces a hypnotic state and is carried out to serve as a blessing or to submit oneself to God.
Imilchil Marriage Feast August / Imilchil
Morocco’s very own Romeo and Juliet story is the inspiration for this tribal marriage festival in which up to 40 couples tie the knot on one day in Imilchil in the Middle-High Atlas Mountains. The festival is also an excuse for the surrounding Berber tribes to get together and dance, give impromptu musical performances and enjoy a jolly good shop, as a massive market springs up in the town, selling everything from Gillette razors and batteries to exquisite tribal kilims (carpets).
The legend goes that a man and a woman from two local tribes fell in love but were forbidden to marry by their families. They cried themselves to death, creating the two neighboring lakes of Issly (his) and Tisslit (hers) near Imilchil, which are just a 20-minute walk apart. So stricken were their families, they established a day – on the anniversary of the lovers’ death – on which members of the two tribes could marry each other. The Imilchil Marriage Festival was born.
More prosaically, the event serves a purpose by enabling otherwise desperate tribes to meet and find partners – nature’s way of widening the gene pool and avoiding the threat of inbreeding. Berber women are entitled to divorce and remarry and the market is now essentially made up of widows and divorcees seeking a new husband.
The dates of this festival depend on the harvest making it impossible to predict exactly when it occurs each year. Ask tourist offices locally when you travel – even we can’t predict the vagaries of the weather system!
Date Festival October / Erfoud
Sugary dates play an important role in the highly superstitious Moroccan culture and the annual Date Feast in Erfoud demonstrates exactly how highly they are regarded. Their sweetness makes them an ideal token of good luck, which is why they are a traditional gift at important ceremonies and an offering to friends or strangers.
Erfoud is the centre of the date-producing area with its one million date palms and is therefore the centre of festivities after the October harvest. Traditional processions, music and folk dance form the bulk of the events, with plenty of opportunity to sample the traditional Moroccan salad and Tagine (a rich stew) local-style, namely with an ample scattering of fresh dates. A fashion parade leads through the streets to the place Erfoud – where the winner is honored with the title of “Miss Date”.
Marrakech Marathon / Marrakech
The ancient Menara is a landmark on the Marathon route….. More than 5000 runners from all over the world take part in the annual Marrakech International Marathon and Half-Marathon. The magical city offers an exceptional setting for this grueling athletic event, with a very mild daytime temperature (20 to 25°C) and a beautiful circuit……………Considered one of the fastest in the world, the marathon route follows the palm-lined boulevards of Marrakech, taking in the orange and olive trees of the Menara Gardens and continuing past the ramparts of the old and legendary Medina.
Almond Tree Blossom Festival February / Tafraoute
Officially the almond capital of Morocco, the area is as famous for its produce as for the spectacle provided by the almond trees in full blossom amid the ochre red walls of the village………….This ephemeral sight of natural beauty gives otherwise peaceful Tafraoute a party atmosphere, as a colorful Souk (market) springs up, complete with dancers, musicians and storytellers.