The best festivals in Morocco for the year
Many visitors return again and again to the same familiar place in Morocco, be it Marrakech or Essaouira. And with wonderful markets, historic sites and delicious food right on their doorstep, who can blame them? For a very good reason to explore further, check out the variety of music festivals and other events held throughout the country. A fast and modern train network makes traveling in Morocco easier than ever before, and regular flights make it a perfect weekend getaway from almost anywhere in Europe. Here’s our rundown of the best festivals in Morocco that you shouldn’t miss this year.
International Nomadic Festival, Mhamid el Ghizlan – March
An open-air festival in the Sahara, the International Nomad Festival is much more than music, featuring dance, poetry, weaving, sports and other aspects of nomadic culture. For an even better experience, register for a workshop to gain a deeper understanding of nomadic life around the world.
Traditional music is part of the International Nomadic Festival
International World Music Festival, Merzouga – March
The International World Music Festival is an intimate Moroccan festival with about 20,000 participants. Events are held in an oasis known for its sunsets and sandy resorts. Watch Moroccan and international music, then ride camels in the dunes or attend a biodiversity workshop. The environment is a constant theme of this unique festival.
Jazzablanca, Casablanca – April
The Jazzablanca Festival, held over nine days in Casablanca, has attracted performers such as Dee Dee Bridgewater, Al Dee Meola, Murchiba, Jason Mraz and Chick Corea as well as emerging Moroccan and international artists. The main venue is the Casa-Anfa Hippodrome, with a second free stage (dedicated to upcoming talent) in the Square des Nations-Unies in the heart of the city.
Jazzablanca celebrates both new and established artists
Mawazine Festival, Rabat – May/June
The massive Mawazine festival, which was founded as a celebration of global music, increasingly draws more international celebrities, like Jennifer Lopez, Shakira, Lenny Kravitz, and Usher.. The biggest names in African and Arab music are also still featured, including Angelique Kidjo, Cheikh Lo and Youssou Ndour. With its four main stages and free admission, about 2, 5 million spectators attend each year, making Mawazine one of the largest music festivals in the world.
Mawazine Music Festival in Rabat © Morocco Tourism
Gnaoua World Music Festival, Essaouira – June
Gnaoua is a traditional form of Berber music, which is now an important part of contemporary Moroccan culture. The Gnaoua World Music Festival celebrates this music as well as featuring reggae, jazz, blues and other styles of world music. Musicians of different styles playing together are an important part of this festival – and a tribute to Gnaoua’s spiritual origins. The beautiful setting of Essaouira adds a different otherworldly look at times.
Musicians at the Gnaoua World Music Festival © Morocco Tourism
Fez World Sacred Music Festival, Fez – June
Fez’s World Spiritual Music Festival, nearly 30 years old, welcomed everyone from Joan Baez to the Soweto Gospel Choir. Funded to promote world peace after the Gulf War, its spiritual mission is combined with magical venues that open their doors to musicians from around the world, many with free admission. Expect to see anything from Sufi dancers to Bolivian Amazon baroque.
An eclectic selection of artists is guaranteed at the Fés Festival © Bertrand Berchard
Timitar Festival, Agadir – July
Showcasing Amazigh or Berber music, the Timitar Festival also invites artists from all over North Africa and beyond; previous years have seen acts from Cuba and Jamaica. With about 40 artists and an audience of about 500,000, it has grown in 15 years to become one of Africa’s largest music festivals and now includes contemporary and experimental music as well as more traditional forms.
Timitar Festival in Agadir © Morocco Tourism
Oasis Festival, Marrakech – September
“Dance Somewhere Different” is the appeal that draws house and techno fans to the Red City for the Oasis Festival in Marrakech. This three-day electronic festival at the Fellah Hotel complements the onstage variety lineup with a stage featuring henna art, yoga classes and spa treatments, and the usual Marrakech attractions are a short bus ride away.
Visa For Music, Rabat – November
VFM was born to celebrate music of African and Middle Eastern origin, whether artists from Morocco or (as in 2023) Montreal and Korea. An important part of the festival is a multitude of conferences and workshops designed to stimulate the development of native art and culture in Morocco