Top 10 annual festivals and events in Morocco
Morocco is a year-round destination, so deciding when to travel can be difficult. One way to choose is to plan your trip around one of the many annual festivals and events in the country. and Some highlight Morocco‘s vibrant artistic tradition, while others are influenced by the agricultural calendar, and yet others are religious celebrations that offer a real window into Moroccans’ everyday life. beliefs. From the world-famous Marathon des Sables endurance race to the cultural festivals in Fez and Marrakech, we take a look at the top 10 annual events in the country.
This article was updated and rewritten in part by Jessica MacDonald on March 5, 2019.
Marathon de Sable
The legendary Marathon des Sables, often called the most challenging walking race on Earth, is a six-day, multi-stage race in the harsh conditions of the Sahara Desert. About 1,300 participants from 30 countries compete each year, and finishers cover a total distance of 250 kilometers / 156 miles. Participants must be self-sufficient, carry food and gear, and sleep in public tents set up along the way.
Where: Sahara Desert
When: The month of April typically; confirm dates online.
Festival of Roses in Kelaa de Mguna
The Dades Valley in Morocco is also known as the Valley of the Rose because of its fragrant rose fields. Each May, the harvest is celebrated in the oasis town of Kelaa de Mgouna, home to a large rose water plant. The three-day festival begins on Friday, draws about 20,000 people and includes rose parades and booths selling all kinds of rose products. Entertainment takes the form of traditional song and dance and the famous Miss Roses.
Where: Kelaa de Mgouna
When: Mid-May – check online for confirmed dates.
Fez World Sacred Music Festival
The World Spiritual Music Festival in Fez lasts nine days and includes a program of stunning open-air concerts. You never know what you might see, from Iranian whirling dervishes to mystics, Sufi singers and dancers from around the world. Venues include the beautiful gardens of Jnan Sbil and Bab al-Maqin, the plaza in front of the Royal Palace. Between concerts, be sure to sample authentic food and drink from the festival’s street stalls.
When: Spring – check online for confirmed dates.
Essaouira Gnaoua and the World Music Festival
The Essaouira Gnaoua and World Music Festival features musicians from all over the world, but it is essentially a celebration of gnaoua, a unique genre inspired by the music, dance and religious rituals of Berbers, Africans and Arabs. The festival was first launched in 1997. Visitors are treated to four days of events and concerts held in 20 different open-air venues scattered throughout the historic medina of Essaouira, one of Morocco’s most beautiful coastal cities.
Where to: Essaouira
When:Summer – check online for confirmed dates.
Marrakech Folk Festival
The Marrakech Festival of Popular Arts attracts artists and performers from all over Europe and beyond. In addition to musicians and dancers, you can see fortune tellers, acting troupes, snake charmers and fire swallowers. The main events take place in Gemma El Fna and in the ruins of the 16th century El Badi palace. Don’t miss Fantasia, an after-dark performance taking place outside the city walls, featuring hundreds of charged riders in traditional dress.
When: Summer – check online for confirmed dates.
Imilchil Marriage Festival
Members of the Berber communities in the Atlas Mountains assemble in the little village of Imilchil every September to commemorate the fable of two Berber lovers who perished in the sea after their parents. forbade their marriage. The Imilchil Marriage Festival allows young men and women to choose their spouses, and many couples participate in the festival (although marriage occurs later). Singing, dancing, and feasting are used to honor the occasion.
When: September – check online for confirmed dates.
Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr
Ramadan refers to the ninth month in the Muslim calendar, when Muslims must abstain from eating, drinking, and other physical needs during the day. As a time of purification of the soul, refocusing on God, and practicing self-sacrifice, Ramadan is a sober month in Morocco. However, the end of Lent is marked by the festival of Eid al-Fitr, which lasts several days. The celebration is prayerful and family-oriented and includes many feasts.
Where: All over Morocco
When: The month of Ramadan, which changes the date every year.
Erfoud Date Festival
The three-day Erfoud date festival, which honors the region’s harvest of more than a million date palms, is held in early October.. After the harvest, festivities include traditional music, dancing and colorful processions. The crowning of the Queen of the dates is another important event, as is the high-octane dromedary race. Come enjoy the festive atmosphere, learn about Berber culture and taste the local date-inspired cuisine.
When: October – check online for confirmed dates.
Most Moroccans celebrate the Islamic New Year, which changes the date according to the lunar Islamic calendar. Berbers celebrate the beginning of the agrarian calendar year Yennaer according to the Julian calendar. Nevertheless, the Gregorian New Year’s Eve is usually celebrated with some kind of celebration, especially in tourist restaurants and hotels. Spending the night in the desert is a popular tradition for travelers and a great way to celebrate the new year.
Where: All over Morocco.
When: December 31