Posts Tagged ‘Fes Festival of World Sacred Music’

The Fes Sacred Music Festival, Your Morocco Tour Guide

Saturday, March 7th, 2015
Fes Festival of World Sacred Music 2015

Fes Festival of World Sacred Music 2015








From 22-30 May 2015, the ancient city of Fes will host the 21st edition of its world famous Sacred Music Festival. The origins of Fes lie in the 8th century by Idris I, who is known for bringing the religion of Islam from Arabia in the East, to Morocco. Fes’ spiritual credentials were boosted by the establishment of the al-Qarawiyyin (or al-Karaouine) University, mosque and madrasa (religious school). It became one of the spiritual and educational centers of the Muslim world and remains today the longest-standing university in the world. Fes‘ role as the spiritual hub of Morocco is underscored by its historical role as the seat of Islamic learning in the Kingdom and an openness towards other cultures and religions. These factors make it the perfect location for two of Morocco’s most well-known festivals: the Fes Festival of Sufi Culture (18-25 April 2015) and the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music (22-30 May 2015). (Note: This year’s Sacred Music Festival is being held a few weeks early to avoid a clash with the Holy month of Ramadan. It is normally held in June).

This year’s 21st edition of the Sacred Music Festival has as its theme ‘Fes: An African Reflection.’ The aim is to connect Fes to its broader African and Islamic spiritual heritage. In addition to the opportunity to see Sufi musicians and practioners from across the Islamic world, the Festival will musicians and artists of other spiritual traditions in a range of impressive indoor and outdoor venues. The program boasts a selection of artists which is much broader than the title would suggest – audiences will be treated to Indian, Persian, Scottish and American artists as well as a great number of North and West African musical and spiritual performances.

A particular highlight will be the opening night (Friday 22 May), an event entitled “Fes in search of Africa”, which will feature some world class Moroccan and West African musicians including Driss al Maloumi (Oud), Ballaké Sissoko (Kora) and Chérifa (Tamazight song from Morocco’s Middle Atlas region) as well as artists from South Africa, Egypt, Burkina Fasso, Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, French Guyana and more.

Batha Gardens & Museum, Fes Festival

Batha Gardens & Museum, Fes Festival










Afternoon concerts are held in the garden of the Batha Museum. These include a tribute to the great Sufi master, Rumi , in the Persian Kurdish tradition by the Payiz Ensemble of Iraq on Saturday 23 May and the fabulous Julie Fowlis of Scotland, who sings haunting melodies in her native Scots Gaelic language on the Sunday. Monday will see an unusual and inspirational collaboration between Malian Ballaké Sissoko on kora and Debashish Battacharya on Indian slide guitar.

The larger evening concerts are held at Bab al Makina, an open-air parade ground near the Royal Palace. Saturday night will see a meeting between the bagpipes of Brittany, France and the folk music of Tissa, in Morocco’s northern Rif mountains. On Sunday, Malian diva Oumou Sangare and Tiken Jah Fakoly, master of African reggae from Ivory Coast will celebrate the festival’s African theme in their joint concert.

Fes Festival Sacred Music

Fes Festival Sacred Music








Monday night (25 May) sees the first of the Night in the Media events, with Eduardo Ramos of Portugal exploring the rich cultural tapestry of Arabic, Sephardic Jewish and Andalusian music across the Iberian Peninsula and North Africa.

Fans of Cuban music are in for a double treat! On Monday evening Cuban pianist and musical innovator Omar Sosa returns once again to Morocco for the premier of Marassam with Tamango (urban tap dance, USA & French Guyana), Rodrigo (percussion, Cuba) and Jean de Boysson (visuals, France). The following afternoon’s concert features Roberto Fonseca and one of Mali’s latest musical exports to global stages, Fatoumata Diawara. The two are bound to create an explosive and colorful collaboration!

The concerts of Night in the Media II on Tuesday 26th at Dar Adiyel will feature artists from China and Azerbaijan, while elsewhere on the same evening, Tunisian singer Sonia Mbarek will present the premiere of her work based on Sufi poetry, Wajd. The Tuesday evening Batha Museum concert will explore the common roots of Andalusian music and Flamenco, featuring Benjamin Bouzaglou, star of the modern Arabo-Jewish Andalusian music scene.

Night in the Medina III on Wednesday night features the epic Hilal story from the Poets of Upper Egypt, as described by Leo Africanus, 16th century explorer of North Africa. His history is intimately connected to that of the city of Fes: he came to Fes from his native al Andalus (modern-day Spain) at the time of the Spanish Inquisition and expulsion of Muslims and Jews. He went on to study at the University of Al Karaouine before beginning an illustrious diplomatic and travelling career, during which he documented the geography of Africa. Other Wednesday night events feature artists from Tamil Nadu, India as well as Sardinian and Corsican representatives of Mediterranean traditions.

Thursday’s program features elements as diverse as flamenco, Moroccan Arabic musical traditions and the big attraction at Bab Makina – The Temptations with Dennis Edwards, presenting their own style of Rhythm and Blues to a whole new audience.

All of Friday’s events draw on North African and Spain’s Andalusian heritage, including music from Algeria and another opportunity to see flamenco traditions. The evening concert is a grand spectacle of Arabo-Andalusian tradition featuring many of the Festival’s North African artists.

Saturday’s schedule showcases Syrian Muwashshah traditions of Arabic poetry and music; gospel with an African touch, and the final concert with Hussain Al Jasmi of the United Arab Emirates.

As the diverse program suggests, the Fes Sacred Music Festival takes a very broad and inclusive view of the sacred and of the importance of indigenous and non-tangible elements of global heritage. There is surely something to satisfy many musical and artistic interests, but also plenty of opportunity to discover lesser-known musicians and artistic genres.

On a practical note, Fes gets very busy during this Festival. Visitors are advised to book accommodation early. Tickets are not yet available online but will be soon and can be purchased for individual events or for the Festival as a whole. Seating is not allocated, so arrive at venues early to avoid disappointment. Some venues are more comfortable than others and some are outside, so dress appropriately and bring something to sit on! There is no afternoon concert on the Wednesday. This is a great time to relax in the Fes medina or take an excursion out of town to nearby Meknes or Volubilis.

Fes is an impressive city in any season, but with the fabulous line up for 2015, a trip to the 21st Fes Sacred Music Festival is an opportunity not to be missed!

Written by Lynn Sheppard 

Lynn Sheppard has lived in Essaouira, on Morocco’s Atlantic Coast for more than 2 years, supporting local non-profits, writing and becoming an expert on all things Swiri (ie. Essaouiran). She blogs at and for other travel industry clients.

For more information about the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music or a Fes Tour

For more information about the Program for the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music

Morocco’s Imperial CitiesSeaside Resorts,Sahara Desert,Berber villagesA Taste of MoroccoMagical Kasbahs, Ruins & WaterfallsAbsolute Morocco, The Best of MarrakechFes, and Ouarzazate

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration
Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel.  We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or + 1 (212) 618882681 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

Fes Festival of Sacred World Music 2014, Your Morocco Tour Guide

Monday, June 9th, 2014

20th Annual Fes Festival of Sacred Music

The Fes Festival of World Sacred Music, celebrates its 20th anniversary this year with the theme Conference of the Birds: Journey of Cultures. It has been twenty years of a musical, spiritual and artistic journey exploring the cultures and traditions of the world, revealed in ever greater depth through concerts, exhibitions, film screenings and debates. It takes place in Fes, Morocco from June 13th – 21st, 2014.


The seven continents are represented by superb artists, grand masters renowned for their art: from Europe, one of the greatest tenors of our time, Roberto Alagna, presents a show created specially for the Festival; in addition to Tomatito, who works with Paco de Lucia at the top of his field of flamenco guitar. Representing Africa is an encounter between Youssou N’dour and Johnny Clegg in a tribute to Nelson Mandela; along with Rokia Traoré. From Asia is the prestigious Arab singer Kadem Saher and Zakir Hussain, the most celebrated Indian tabla musician.

Morocco is represented by a number of artists during the opening concert and also in an Arab-Jewish-Andalusian evening showcasing the greatest Moroccan artists both Muslim and Jewish, presenting their magnificently rich cultural heritage. Luzmilla Carpio from Bolivia represents South America, and Buddy Guy from North America, the great legend of Chicago blues who will be visiting Morocco for the first time with his ensemble, presenting the mythical music of this Afro-American culture.

The Fes Festival of World Sacred Music and the Fes Forum, founded in1994 and 2001, are dedicated to the traditions of knowledge, art and spirituality of the city. The Fes Festival was designated in 2001 by the United Nations as one of the major events contributing in remarkable fashion to the dialogue between civilizations.

Faouzi Skali

Forum Director and Founder, Faouzi Skali introduces the Festival and Travel Exploraiton Morocco is proud to present the 2014 program here.

YouTube Preview Image

The opening concert of the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music features the premiere of a work specially commissioned for the Festival. It is a feast of stagecraft and the visual arts that encompasses music, dance, song, video and poetry.

The opening concert at 21h00 on 13 June at Bab al Makina entitled Manteq at-Tayr in Arabic, Conference of the Birds : Journey of Cultures. This work encompasses the journey of different world cultures in their quest for direction and of their transformation as they encounter various exchanges. Performance inspired by The Conference of the Birds by Farid Ud-Din Attar, translated by Leili Anvar and published by Diane de Selliers.

They take place throughout the Fes Festival as a fitting finish to the day’s events in a warm atmosphere full of spirituality and conviviality.

It’s a perfect moment to be shared by all, in the gardens of Dar Tazi in the heart of the Fes medina.

Medina Nights Performers from June 16th – 18th:

Breezes of the Atlas & Jews Harp from China, The Choir of Saint Ephraim, Majils Triom Atlan Ensemble, Leili Anvar, Marifat, Khalil Abu Nicola, Tomatito Sextet, Nouhalia El Khalai, Mor Karbasi, Zakir Hussain

Festival in the City Concert Program:

The Festival in the City brings together all the great traditions of sacred music, spiritual music, and world music. As part of the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music, it offers free daily concerts in popular city squares for the people of Fes, Morocco and from abroad.
These large public concerts are free and take place at Boujloud Square at 18h30 (except saturday June 14th at 22h30 – 10:30pm) and at the Jnan Sbil garden at 16h.

Saturday 14 June
Jnan Sbil garden 16h : Ensemble Takht al Arabi, Aziz Liwae

From Bab Boujloud 18h : 2nd RACE TO THE RHYTHM OF WORLD SACRED MUSIC with traditional folkloric groups from all over Morocco will perform along the route.
Bab Boujloud 22h30 Chant d’Ahidous de l’Atlas / Badr Rami (Syrie)

Sunday 15 june
Jnan Sbil Garden  16h : Songs of the group Aisawa, Said Berrada
Bab Boujloud 18h30 : Musa Dieng Kala (Sénégal) / Jil Jilala

Monday 16 june
Jnan Sbil Garden 16h : Feminin orchestra of Fès
Bab Boujloud 18h30 : Luzmila Carpio (Bolivia) / Ouled Al Bouazzaoui (Songs of  theAïeta )

Tuesday 17 june
Jnan Sbil Garden 16h : Nasr Migri
Bab Boujloud 18h30 : Ribab Fusion (Amazigh’s songs from Souss)/Sefrawa Fusion (winner of the Tremplin Fé Riad 2014)

Wednesday 18 june
Jnan Sbil Garden 16h : Roudaniyat, women from Mèknes
Bab Boujloud 18h30 : Laabi Orchestra

Thursday 19 June
Jnan Sbil Garden 16h : Amina Ben Souda
Bab Boujloud 18h30 : Raza Khan (India) /Abidat Rma

Friday 20 june
Jnan Sbil Garden 16h : Songs of Melhoûn, Mohammed El Hadri/ Amazigh poetry reading: Omar Taous
Bab Boujloud 18h30 : Hot 8 Brass Band (USA)/ Saïda Charaf

Sunday 21 june
Jnan Sbil Garden 16h : Ihsan Rmiki
Bab Boujloud 18h30 : Kadim Al Sahira

Free entry Dar Tazi: Sufi Nights from 23h00

These outdoor samaâ concerts are open to all, and give a glimpse into Islamic culture through the richness and creativity of its artistic and spiritual dimensions.

Saturday 14 June : National Tijani group of Rabat directed by Mohcine Nawrach, with sama’a and madih

Sunday 15 June : Group from the Darkaouia Zaouia, Essaouira

Monday 16 June : Group from the Sakalia Zaouia in Fes, directed by Haj Mohamed Bennis

Tuesday 17 June : Group from the Naqchabandia Zaouia directed by Noureddine Tahiri

Wednesday 18 June : Group Rouh of Meknes directed by Yassine Habibi, with Sufi sama’a

Thursday 19 June : Group from the Harrakia Zaouia, Rabat

Friday 20 June : Group from the Ouazzania Zaouia of Ouazzane directed by Fouad Ouazzani

Saturday 21 June : Group from the Hamdouchia Zaouia of Fez directed by Abderrahim Amrani

For more information about the Fes Festival of Sacred World Music or Fes Tours  

Morocco’s Imperial CitiesSeaside Resorts,Sahara Desert,Berber villagesA Taste of MoroccoMagical Kasbahs, Ruins & WaterfallsAbsolute Morocco, The Best of MarrakechFes, and Ouarzazate

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration
Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel.  We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or + 1 (212) 618882681 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

Morocco Festivals, Your Morocco Travel Guide

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

Celebration is an important aspect of Moroccan culture. Morocco is an exciting and entertaining country that lays claim to cultural, historical and religious holidays and festivals.  At any given point of the year there is a Moroccan city or Berber community hosting glorious festivities. Moroccan celebrations can last anywhere from a few days up to two weeks. The exception is Ramadan which lasts for thirty days. While Moroccans celebrate numerous Muslim and national festivals through the year, the dates for most of their religious festivals are based upon the lunar calendar. Therefore it is difficult to predict when religious holidays will fall within the western calendar utilized by most people in the world.

During Moroccan festivities, one can expect to encounter fasting, dancing and feasting – all depending on the type of holiday being celebrated. The Muslim festivals and religious holidays are traditionally observed by all Moroccans regardless of how long they last. They are also often observed by foreigners living in Morocco.

Some famous festivals are: the Almond Blossom Festival which marks the time when these trees bare their leaves in splendid shades of pinks and whites; the Festival of Roses in El Kelaa M’Gouna which gives way to thousands of blooming roses whose scents lingers all during the festival whereby the annual Ms. Roses is chosen; the Fes Festival of Sacred World Music, the Gnaoua Festival, the Timitar Festival of Agadir celebrating Amazigh (Berber) music and the Sufi Festival. Morocco’s leading festival that commands top attendance is The International Film Festival of Marrakech; for its attraction of film makers from around the world who flock to show their feature films and shorts.

Every festival is an adventure and offers an opportunity to connect with locals to experience Moroccan culture. Moroccan festivals and celebrations are fascinating and immensely enjoyable therefore visiting during one of them can greatly enhance your trip to the country.

Fes Festival of Sacred World Music, Fes

FES FESTIVAL OF WORLD SACRED MUSIC – This Festival takes place in June each year
A 10-day sacred music festival celebrating spiritual traditions from around the world.

he Fes Festival of World Sacred Music in Morocco is 10-day celebration held in mid-summer (late May or early June) that takes place in the imperial city of Fes. The festival was founded in 1994 by the Moroccan scholar and philanthropist Faouzi Skaliand was created to showcase major musical traditions of sacred, spiritual music and world music. The current Artistic Director is Cherif Khaznadar, a pioneer of world music and one of the most influential Artistic Directors on the scene. Each year the festival celebrates artists from Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Hindu and other faiths to perform together in a spirit of mutual respect and collaboration.

The Fes Festival is comprised of:

A four-day Forum called Rencontres de Fes under the rubric “Giving Soul to Globalisation” where politicians, social activists, academics and religious leaders come together in dialogue to discuss the urgent issues of our times. These include conflict resolution, climate change, urban renewal, social justice and much more.

Intimate afternoon concerts at the Dar Batha Museum and its surrounding Andalusian gardens.

Art and film exhibitions, poetry readings at the Dar Bartha Museum and other locations within Fes.

A one-day excursion to the Roman ruins of Volubilis with Arc of Triumph as a backdrop setting for a musical performance.

Evening concerts at the Bab Makina Palace courtyard.

Sufi nights: Sufi music rituals concerts that begin at midnight performed by Moroccan Sufi brotherhoods in the Dar Tazi gardens, in the heart of the Fes medina.

The Festival has featured wide range of global musicians such as Miriam Makeba,Ismael Lô, Mohamed Abdou, Tartit Women’s Ensemble, Ghada Shbéïr, , Sabah Fakrih, the Blind Boys of Alabama, Jan Garbarek and The Hilliard Ensemble and the Whirling Dervishes of Konya in the dance of Odissi Madhvi Mudgal.  Performers likeYoussou N’Dour, Ravi Shakar and Salif Keita have been juxtaposed with less known musical genres such as Japanese Gagaku, Indonesian Gamelan and folk music fromCentral Asia.

The Fes Festival is unique because it has roots in spiritual values and encourages the audience to become active participants. The festival’s president, Mohamed Kabbaj, wants the festival to act as an anchoring ground to teach people to learn to appreciate different cultures and to communicate better with one another.

In addition to bringing attention to various cultures, the Fes Festival has been a wonderful tool specifically in raising awareness for Moroccan culture. During the day, tourists arriving to enjoy the Fes Festival explore Fes’ medina, souk, mosques and other city highlights. At night, they delight in the musical festivities.

The festival is not just confined to one square in Fes. In honor of the festival there are art exhibitions and concerts held at the Dar Batha museum, talks at Palace Jamai, free concerts in the medina and in the new city, as well as many children’s activities, making it a great family destination.

In the morning, visitors can take part in seminars or round table discussions covering topics related to the theme of the festival. By attending the discussion, you can gain extra insight into the meaning of the festival.

In the afternoon, evening, and late at night, there are concerts given by performers arriving from every angle of the globe. These musicians help celebrate all the cultures and religions of the world through a multiplicity of their songs and rituals. The musical spectrum heard includes early European classical, Sufi ritual songs and trance music, Arab-Andalusian rhythms, a Bulgarian orthodox choir, Hindustani chants, Celtic sacred music, Christian Gospel, Swedish chamber choir, Pakistani Qawwali incantations, Egyptian madhi odes, flamenco-style Christian saeta, ancient Indian gwalior chants and Turkish whirling dervishes.

Traditionally, the festival’s most impressive afternoon concerts take place by theDarBathaMuseum, which is set amidst a beautiful Andalusian garden and has a backdrop of the Atlas Mountains. During the evening concerts are held at the Bab Makina and Palace Boujeloud.  After the last concert of the night is over, the medina is the place to head for a continuation of a once in a life time experience. Every evening at midnight, there are free “Sufi Nights”. These highly popular Sufi ritual trance performances are held at the DarTaziPalace gardens where Sufi brotherhoods like the Hamadcha, the Aissaoua and The Master Musicians of Jajouka perform while you relax on Berber rugs and sip mint tea.

If you want to place the Fes Festival on your itinerary, make sure to reserve accommodations in advance as the city fills up quickly with tourists for this spectacular annual event. The most sought after location to stay in is the medina because it is central to all the concerts and main activities.

The Fes Festival is a unique experience that combines high art, popular entertainment, spiritual energy and intellectual challenges. It resonates with the essence of our times and is rooted in The Spirit of Fes –  ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Gnaoua Festival Musicians, Essaouira

GNAOUA MUSIC FESTIVAL – This Festival takes place in June each year
A famous 4-day extravaganza featuring art exhibitions and Gnaoua style, world and jazz music.

The mysterious music of the Gnaouas is celebrated each year in June at the Gnaoua Festival in Essaouira.  Essaouira is an Atlantic seaside resort town and has long been considered as one of the best anchorages of the Moroccan coast. The medina of Essaouira (formerly “Mogador”) is a  UNESCO World Heritage listed city, as an example of a late 18th century fortified town.

The Gnaoua Festival attracts a cosmopolitan audience of 500,000 festival-goers annually and offers a rich program, reaffirming its goal to emphasize the Gnaoua heritage in all its variety and to invite the best world and jazz artists to come and perform in the unique and magical town of Essaouira. This popular four day festival features art exhibitions and Gnaoua style music. International musicians and groups from Tangier, Marrakesh, and Essaouira perform their Gnaoua sounds at the Place Moulay Hassan and other spaces in the medina and outside its city walls such as Bab Doukkala, Bab Marrakech, Dar Souiri, Chez Kebin, Zaouia Gnaoua, Place Khayma and the Marche Aux Grain.

The festival recently honored the Gnaoua musicians with a new stage, which is dedicated to them at Bab Doukkala, allowing the ardent supporters of the Gnaoua rhythms to meet with the stars, from Hamid El Kasri to Abdelkébir Merchane. This stage was created for 100 % Gnaoua concerts, as well as the traditional lilas in the exceptional Gnaoua Zaouia (trance performances) every evening at midnight for the purists.

World and jazz musicians perform on the new stage Bab Sebaa and The Moulay Hassan stage is kept for the famous groups of very diverse styles. On the smaller stages in the medina, the new generation of maâlems performs, and fans of electronic fusion and contemporary Moroccan music now have two new dedicated areas: the Pepsi stage and the Méditel stage.

The Gnaoua Festival offers 10 concert sites from which everyone can choose according to their taste, 10 different but complementary programs forming the details of a unique puzzle, that of a pioneering and cosmopolitan festival. The quality is excellent as ever.

Each evening is usually broken down into a few parts. In the first part, the Gnaoua musicians perform between six and nine pm. After this portion ends, the audience will hear the sounds of the other non-Gnaoua jazz musicians.

The favorite of many is when Maâlem (Master) Gnaoua and their bands begin to play, around the eleven pm. The Maâlems have venerable stringed-instrument traditions involving both bowed lutes like the gogo and plucked lutes like the gimbri, also called hajhuj a three-stringed bass instrument.

The hajhouj, a guitar like instrument made of camel’s leather. Its strings come from the roots of trees combined with dried, twisted sheep or goat colons. The hajhouj gives Gnaoua music its distinctive bass sounds. Gnaoua hajhuj players use a technique which 19th century American minstrel banjo  instruction manuals identify as “brushless drop-thumb frailing”. The “brushless” part means the fingers do not brush several strings at once to make chords. Instead, the thumb drops repeatedly in a hypnotically rhythmic pattern against the freely-vibrating bass string producing a throbbing drone, while the first two or three fingers of the same (right) hand pick out, often percussive patterns in a drum-like, almost telegraphic manner. The Gnawa hajhuj has strong historical and musical links to West African lutes like the Hausa halam, a direct ancestor of the banjo. The Gnawa also use large drums called the ganga or tbeland krakebs large iron castanets in their ritual music.

At the festival, the Maâlems begin to chant in Arabic or Gnaoui. The message is usually something spiritual or religious that has the power to heal. At one point in the songs, an instrument making “krakeb” sounds places the audience into a trance as both musicians and the audience begin to sway.

After the Maâlem, between 12am and 2am in the morning, there is a fusion of sounds between the spiritual Gnaoua music and the multi-cultural sounds of non-Gnaoua jazz musicians playing European, American, Rock, and African Blues. The late morning concerts are a fusion between these artists.

Great musicians who have performed at The Gnaoua Festival since its first edition in 1988 are: Trio Joubran with bluesman Justin Adams, Toumani Diabaté, Eric Legnini, KyMani Marley, Wayne Shorter, the National Orchestra of Barbès, Hassan Hakmoun, Will Calhonn, Adam Rudolf, Sussan Deyhim, Steve Shehan, Yéyé Kanté, Adam Rudolph, Mokhtar Samba, Yaya Ouattara, Jamey Haddad, Jacques Schwarz-Bart, Randy Weston, Adam Rudolph, The Wailers, Pharoah Sanders, Keziah Jones, Omar Sosa, Doudou N’Diaye Rose, the Italiam trumpet player Paolo Fresu and Ramon Valle.

The new generations of Gnaoua maâlems who have performed at the Gnaoua Festival are: Saïd Boulhimas, Midnight Shems, Darga, and Rif Gnawa. The established maâlems who have performed are: Allal Soudani, Saïd El Bourqui and Abdeslam Belghiti, Maâlem Abdallah El Gourd de Tanger. Maâlem Abdeslam Alikane et Tyour D’EssaouiraMaâlem Amida Boussou de Casablanca, Maâlem Brahim Balkani de Marakech, Maâlem Mahmoud Guinea d’Essaouira. Maâlem Abdelhatif Al Makhzoumi, Maâlem Allal Goubani, Maâlem Cherif Regragui, Maâlem Hayate, Saïd Boukri , Al Belghiti, Maâlem Abdallah El Gourd de Tanger, Maâlem Abdeslam Alikane et Tyour D’Essaouira, Maâlem Amida Boussou de Casablanca, Maâlem Brahim Balkani de Marakech, Maâlem Mahmoud Guinea d’Essaouira, Maâlem Abdelhatif Al Makhzoumi, Maâlem Allal Goubani, Maâlem Cherif Regragui, Maâlem Hayate, Saïd Boukri and Al Belghiti.

Gnaoua music is a mixture of African, Berber and Arabic religious songs and rhythms. It combines music and acrobatic dancing. Gnaoua music is both a prayer and a celebration of life. Though many of the influences that formed this music can be traced to sub-Saharan Africa, and specifically, the Western Sahel, its practice is concentrated in North Africa, mainly Morocco and Algeria

The Gnaouas are descendants from the black brotherhoods of slaves that were taken from Mali, Guinea, and Ghana to be transported by traders along the Caravan Route. Originally, their purpose was to serve as guards to Morocco’s sultans, however, the story states that when Bilal cured Mohammed’s daughter Fatima by singing her a song, their role gradually changed from guards to that of ‘musical doctors’ or those who heal the soul. The Gnaoua combine elements of African tradition with Islamic folklore during their nighttime trance rituals called lilas. Lilas generally last throughout the night and are filled with dancing, chants, and other ceremonies to encourage spirits inhabiting a human body to connect with and cure the soul.

In a Gnaoua song, similar to American pop music, one phrase or a few lines are repeated consistently regardless of how short or long the song may be; although most are quite long surpassing twenty minutes. In fact, a song may last up to several hours non-stop. To many who are unfamiliar with the Gnaoua, their performances may appear to be one long song when actually they are a series of spiritual chants. The chants sung by the Gnaoua describe the various spirits so what seems to be a 20 minute piece may be a whole series of pieces, a suite for Sidi Moussa, Sidi Hamou, Sidi Mimoun or the others. However because the songs are suited for invoking a state of trance, they go on and on.

Almost all Moroccan brotherhoods, such as the Issawa or the Hamadsha, relate their spiritual authority to a saint. The ceremonies begin by reciting that saint’s written works or spiritual prescriptions in Arabic. In this way, they assert their role as the spiritual descendants of the founder, giving themselves the authority to perform the ritual. Gnaoua, whose ancestors were neither literate nor native speakers of Arabic, begin the Lila by bringing back, through song and dance their origins, the experiences of their slave ancestors, and ultimately redemption.

The Gnaoua Festival of Essaouira has changed the face of the original Gnaoua ritual music by fusing its core spiritual music with similar genres like jazz, blues, reggae and hip-hop. The famous musicians that participate each year exchange and mix their own music with Gnaoua music, creating one of the largest public festivals in Morocco as well as one of the best and most exciting jam sessions.


Timitar Festival, Agadir

TIMITAR MUSIC FESTIVAL IN AGADIR – This Festival takes place in July each year

The leading celebration of Amazigh culture and world music in the Souss Massa Drâa.

Featuring over 40 artists and 500,000 in attendance, Timitar Festival in Agadir, Morocco, has established itself as one the premiere African music festivals. Considered today as one of the biggest festivals in the country, Timitar provides its audience with an event well rooted in and actively working towards promoting Souss Massa Drâa culture.

The district council of Agadir Under Massa Draâ initiated the Timitar Festival with the goal to set up a cultural project for the meeting between Amazigh artists and world musicians. The President of the festival is the agricultural tycoon Aziz Akhennouch.  The Artistic Director of the festival is Brahim El Mazned.

What defines Timitar from other music festivals in Morocco is its special focus on Amazigh culture. Its permanent theme is “signs and cultures” and Timitar lives up to this tag by including performances by traditional and modern Moroccan musicians alongside those of contemporary international artists.

Each year the Festival Timitar honors artists coming from all over the world including Africa, South America, Europe and the Middle East in order to offer the Agadir audience the best of numerous works in Amazigh traditional music, modern music from the Maghreb and elsewhere, rap, jazz and hip hop.

Since its creation, Timitar has become a key meeting point, both on artistic and cultural levels. As part of Timitar, the Timitar OFF program, which consists of a colloquium and workshops on Deejaying and Veejaying practices for young people, emphasizes Amazigh culture and world music.

The majority of Berbers, also referred to as Amazigh, went unrecognized in North Africa until the mid-‘90’s when they pressed the King publicly for their cultural traditions to be respected and honored. During recent years, the Amazigh have seen a cultural renaissance through recognition of their language in schools, increased awareness in tourism to the Southern region as well as a larger respect from Arab Moroccans and foreigners with regards to their cuisine, Kilim making and silver traditions. This cultural renaissance has been encouraged and fully supported by King Mohammed VI and was initiated by his father King Hassan.

Tashelhit is language of the majority of Berbers and is now being taught in a majority of schools in the South. The government says the aim is to have Berber classes taught in all schools and at all levels within the next 10 years. The move is a sign of increasing recognition of Moroccan Berbers, who have long complained of being denied their rights despite constituting the majority of the population. It is the first step in the fulfillment of a promise made nearly 10 years ago by the late King Hassan to bring Berber into the classroom.Although it is estimated that at least 60% of Moroccans are ethnically Berber or Amazigh as they are known in their own language, Morocco’s constitution enshrines Arabic as the country’s only official language.

Timitar Festival has produced 46 concerts since its inception. Staged in three open-air venues throughout Agadir, music can be enjoyed at the central Place al Amar, Place Bijaouane and the Théâtre de Verdure. The event is marked by the participation of foreign and domestic artists, presenting eclectic musical styles (Jazz, Hip-Hop, Indian, Spanish and Cuban music) as well as Moroccan culture, including Berber, Gnaoua and other internationally known styles. This great cultural event is organized with the objective of spiritual hospitality and the exchange and is organized around the concept of the meeting of Amazigh music with the music styles of the world.

World renowned artists that have performed at Timitar Festival are Youssou N’Door, Marcel Khalifa, Alpha Blondy, Cheb Khaled, Rokia Traoré, Najat Âatabou, Lamchaheb, Idir, Salif Keita, and Oulad el Bouazzaoui.

Berber groups who have graced the stage are Fatima Tabaamrant, Outajajt, Lahoucine Amarakchi, My Ahmed Ihihi, Fatima Tihihit and Haj Amentag. The audience also has the opportunity to discover new groups working with traditional music within the Souss Massa Drâa Region; who in the past have included Imghrane, Oudaden, Tarragt, Azenkd, Toudart, Lahoucine Aït Baamrane and Aït Laati.

Urban and contemporary music is also commemorated at this seafront festival in account of the alternative artists who made a mark on the local Moroccan music scene, such as Amarg Fusion, Darga, Fez City Clan and Rap 2 Bleb. International urban and contemporary hip hop groups such as Didier Awadi and his band Presidents of Africa and electronic music groups such as Zong and Nortec Collective have also made there way into the festival.

Timitar promises each year to include sounds and images with deejay and veejay sets. In 2008 the festival showcased Al Amal and Bijawane stages, featuring VJ Dennis Dezenn, Kiss Duband Rays; with Dj Big Buddha, Ishtar, Dj B*indi, Mps Pilot, Badr Eddine, Mixape, Dj Key and Dj Saïf.

The diverse line up of the Timitar festival holds strong to spirit of plurality inherent in world music and the Amazigh musical tradition. Attended by Moroccans and foreigners, the Timitar Festival is an exciting foray into Morocco in summer. Along with the spectacular music, one is guaranteed fresh seafood and cool air during the hottest season of the year.



IMILCHIL MARRIAGE FESTIVAL – This Festival takes place September each year
A legendary festival that is an homage to love and celebration of Berber Tradition.

Imilchil is located high up in the lake plateau of the Middle Atlas Mountains in Morocco. In this quaint village you will find primarily Berber tribal clans who have a strong sense of culture and tradition that has been preserved for decades. The Imilchil Marriage Festival is the prime attraction of this village and takes place annually in September. Each September, the surrounding tribes, Aït Sokham and Aït Bouguemmaz celebrate the Imilchil Marriage Festival, held in Souk Aam and Agdoud N’Oulmghenni. This festival, also known as September Romance, features the Aït Yaazza culture of an annual collective marriage where women search and choose their husband.

The fiancé’ part of the festival is staged on the site of the tomb of the Oldman, who is venerated in the high atlas. Close to 30,000 people from the mountains assemble under tents for three days with their flocks, their horses and camels. It is an occasion when young girls to dress up and wear their finery, their sumptuous silver jewelry, and dance for hours under the stars.

Traditionally, a nod and a wink is the unspoken language between men and women at the festival to show interest. Men are usually assisted by a friend in choosing a bride and overcoming any shyness. Once they receive a gesture from a female, if they agree, they may hold hands to show intent. However, letting go of ones hand signals rejection.

If a bride says the magic phrase, “you have captured my liver or my liver pines for you”, it means that she has found her love. Liver not the heart is considered the location of true love because in Berber culture it is believed that a healthy liver aids digestion and promotes well-being.

If there is consent on both ends, the couple meets with their families in a tent whereby questions are prompted and discussion is carried on over warm mint tea. Later, the marriage will be arranged more seriously in the couple’s home village. If a marriage is an unhappy one, divorce is allowed. At the Imilchil Festival, divorced or widowed women are in the majority. They can be identified by a pointed headdress.

For the young men and girls of the area, it was a tradition to get married on the day of the Moussem in ancient times, a holy man used to bless the betrothed at Agdoul. Those knowledgeable about the festival will explain that there are actually no weddings performed at the event, rather it is a way to pay tribute to a bittersweet Moroccan legend today.

They say all great love stories are tragic. The legendary tale of the Imilchil Marriage Festival says there were two young people who fell in love from enemy tribes. Their family would not allow them to marry. Out of grief, they wept bitterly day and night. These tears created two individual lakes. One lake was “Isli”, meaning bridegroom and the other, “Tislit”, meaning bride. Their despair was so great; they committed suicide by drowning in those two lakes. The Imilchil Moussem has been created to pay homage to these two young lovers.Legend also has that with the mountain separating the two lakes; their souls remained apart even after their deaths.

The sadness prevailed among villagers therefore the tradition was changed and all of the families granted total freedom to their children to marry whomever they chose. Today, neighboring tribes gather together near these lakes, and the women choose their husbands

Famous Gnaoua Maâlems

Mahmoud Guinia – (the King) or Gania – He has performed with Pharoah Sanders and Carlos Santana. He is the son of the late Maâllem Boubker Gnaia, and his two brothers Abdelah and Mokhtar are also distinguished maâllemin (masters).

Brahim Belkane – (The traditional)- He has performed with Lez Zepplin, Robert Plant,  Adam Rudolph, Randy Weston, and Jimmy Page.

Hamid El Kasri – He is one of the biggest stars on stage and is particularly renowned in Morocco for his great voice. In his youth Maâllem Hamid was associated with the Gnaoua scene in Tangier and masters like Abdelwahab “Stitou”.

H’mida Boussou – (The grand master) – As a child H’mida immersed himself in Gnawi culture as taught him by the Maâlem Ahmed Oueld Dijja, and became a Maâlem himself at the age of 16. Maalem H’mida Boussou died in 2007, but his son, Maalem Hassan Boussou continues the Gnaoua tradition.

Abdellah El Gourd – – He learned Gnaoua as a young man, while working as a radio engineer in his hometown of  Tangier. Gourd has collaborated with jazz musicians Randy Weston and Archie Shepp and blues musician Johnny Copeland With Weston, he co-produced The Splendid Master Gnawa Musicians of Morocco, which received a 1996 Grammy Award nomination for Best World Music Album.

Hamid el Kasri – He began his apprenticeship at the age of 7. He has the gift of being able to fuse the music of the north with that of the south: gharbaoui from Rabat, marsaoui from Essaouira and soussi or Berber from the south of Morocco.

Abdelslam Alikkane and Tyour Gnaoua – He is a Berber from the region of Agadir who how to play the krakebs at the age of 9. His focus is on the healing aspect of gnaoua. He has performed at many international festivals with Peter Gabriel, Gilberto Gil and Ray Lemal.

Abderrahman Paca – He is one of the founding members of the group Nass El Ghiwane. In 1966 he briefly joined the Living Theatre then two years later met the legendary Jimi Hendriz.

Mokhtar Gania– Son of the great Maâlem Boubker. He is the younger brother of the legendary Mahmoud. He performed at the great Roskilde Festival in Denmark in 2003 sharing the stage with Bill Laswell, Jah Wobble, Gigi, Sussan Deyhim and others. He is currently considered one of the hottest gimbri players around.

Abdelkader Benthami – He owes his education to some of the greatest Maâlems such as Zouitni. He lives in Casablanca, and was a session player on Bill Laswells Night Spirit Masters. His sons are both masters, and the youngest, Abderrahim, debuted in 2007 at the Gnaoua Festival.

Said Boulhamias – He is the youngest Gnawi to play at the 7th edition (2004) of the Gnaoua festival. Saïd was taught by Abdelah Gania and won the Festival de Jeunes Talents (Festival of young talents) in 2006 and is also part of the French/Moroccan Band Of Gnaoua with Louis Bertignac and Loy Erlich

Hassan Hakmoun – He is a powerful, soulful and charismatic “Master” musician who has been performing since childhood on the streets of Marrakesh, Morocco. Hassan started performing in his homeland in Gnaoua Ceremonies. He has performed and recorded with Randy Weston Don Cherry, Richard Horowitz, Adam Rudolph, Paula Cole, Bob Telson, Peter Gabriel, Ittal Shore, and many more. He has appeared on the Tonight Show and David Sanborn’s NBC Sunday Night Music. Hassan first made his debut in New York at Lincoln Center in 1987.

As well as being the place to choose a potential spouse, the Moussem of Imilchil operates as a fair or a big market, with artisans and farmers offering their produce to a wider market than is available at the weekly Souk. If you have an opportunity to attend the Imilchil Marriage Festival, it is highly recommended that you go. The festival is celebrated with great food, music, dancing, and beautifully dressed Berbers in traditional and ceremonial costume. For a long time the festival was closed off to visitors but in recent years has opened to stimulate tourism.


El Kellat Des Mgouna, Valley of Roses Festival

ROSE FESTIVAL- EL KELAA DE MGOUNA – This Festival takes place the first week in May each year
Berber music, singing, dancing and the election of a Ms. Rose overtake this heavenly pink town.

Hidden within the Oases of the Dadès Valley is a Moroccan jewel known as the heavenly pink town of El-Kelaa M’Gouna or more affectionately referred to as the Valley of the Roses. The town is famous for its sea of pink Persian rose landscapes. El Kelaa Des Mgouna has a vast distilling plant, Capp et Florale that accounts for producing litres of rose water popular in the nation’s cooking and perfumery. The rose capital also produces other goods made of eau de rose such as hand and body soaps, oil, crème perfume and dried flowers that are popular among Moroccans and tourists.

The Damask rose was brought to El Kelaa Des Mgouna in 1938 by the French. At that time El Kelaa Des Mgouna’s first rose water distillery was opened. Shortly after the first Rose Festival began and has been a tradition ever since.

In the Valley of Roses will find miles of pink, small Persian roses-cultivated as hedgerows dividing the plots of land. In spring, you can buy a garland of fragrant roses from one of the Berber children who line the route.

During the month of May, an annual three-day Rose Festival takes place in the Valley of the Roses. Morocco’s Rose Festival occupies the souk area of El Kelaa Des Mgouna, the town responsible for the rosy festivities. During this time, travelers come from all over to attend the festivities where a Rose Queen is elected to reign over the year’s scented crop.The factories in El Kelaa Des Mgouna produce 3000-4000 petals a year. With ten tons of petals required to produce a few liters of precious oil, the harvest is understandably a labor of love and the culminating festivities of the annual Rose Festival are all the livelier for it.

Surprisingly, Rose water is expensive for Moroccans. The reason for its price tag is the fact that the four thousand two hundred kilometers of rose hedges can only produce one thousand four hundred liters of the product. The process uses approximately three thousand kilograms of rose petals to extract a liter of rose oil. Visitors who attend the Festival of Roses will therefore see tons of rose petals being transported to the factories to extract the precious oils, leaving a trail of rose scent throughout the town.

As with all festivals in Morocco, the annual Rose Festival boasts delicious food alongside traditional Berber local tribes singing, dancing, displaying sword maneuvers and playing traditional musical instruments; plus a parade of floats with the nominees for Ms. Roses who sit upon them.

Unique to this festival are the rose perfumed streets, Moroccan women wearing traditional head scarves decorated with bright colored velvety flowers, and boys and girls wearing rose-garlands. Floral decorated floats, camel-rides, and an excursion organized by the festival coordinators to take a bus ride from Ouarzazate to the Valley of the Roses are a few of the highlights available to all.

The crowds at the festival are thick as a pink cloud; however, if you are a traveler you are in luck. Look for a spot reserved for tourists and dignitaries for the best views of the festival. Don’t forget to look out for well dressed women in pink organaza and tulle and men dressed in white turbaned robes.

The purpose of the festival is for rose farmers to celebrate the year’s crops and to celebrate the beauty of nature. The Rose Festival is one of the prettiest and most popular celebrations in Morocco. Visitors come to enjoy breathing in the sweet scents of the petals as well as being surrounded by the natural beauty of the Drâa valley and the High Atlas Mountains.


Sufi Festival, Fes

SUFI FESTIVAL – This Festival takes place in June each year
An 8-day celebration of Sufi spirituality, performance, poetry and workshop.

The Sufi Cultural Festival is an 8-day celebration that takes place each April within the imperial city of Fes to honor Sufi music and spirituality. The Festival brings together religious leaders in Sufism and artists from around the world. Visitors come to enjoy ritual performances complemented by morning poetry readings, films and oriental art. The Sufi Festival which took place for its second time in 2008 featured a number of “samaa” evenings- nights filled with chanting and dance- as well as meetings and workshops; all centred around the theme “Sufism and human development”.

The festival provides an opportunity for visitors to discover Morocco’s spiritual heritage and to display a side of Islam that is not often understood. Sufism is the mystical side of Islam that emphasizes love and peace, and whose message of universality transcends borders. Sufism creates a network for spirituality and co-operation in artistic, cultural and spiritual expression that provides balance and counters extremism. Scholars of various expertises have used the festival as an opportunity for debate and discussion, around such themes as “Sufism and human rights”, “Sufism and Moroccan history”, and “Sufism and cultural diversity”.

Morocco has a long history with Sufism. In Morocco alone, there are 1000 different Sufi cultures and brotherhoods. Brotherhoods established by Sufi teachers were known for their leniency and tolerance and have long been viewed as models of moral conduct to be emulated. Sufis founded institutions of learning run by local zaouias in towns and villages, many of which remain today and enjoy state support. Morocco has always made a considerable effort to encourage Sufism. The country has produced such a remarkable number of Sufis such as Gnaoua, the Aïssawa, the Hamadcha and the Master Musicians of Jajouka.

The 2008 Sufi festival featured ritual music from Iran, Syria, Egypt and Morocco. Performances by Morocco’s Mohamed Bajeddoub, Syria’s Hassan Haffar and Congo-born Frenchman, Abdelmalik made an important impact. As a member of the Qadiriyya-Boutchichiyya tariqa (group) of Sufism, Abdelmalik bases his lyrical message on Sufi texts, speaking to a whole generation of young people, both in France and elsewhere.

Similar to the annual Fes Festival of World Sacred Music, held each June, the Sufi Festival is quickly developing a reputation. Quite often, the audience becomes so involved in the ritual performance that they stand up from their seats, sway to the spiritual music, sing along and sometimes fall into a state of trance.

The audience hears a range of music representative of the Sufi culture at the Sufi Festival. This music is presented by Sama groups. Sama, meaning ‘to hear with the soul’ in Arabic, are brought on stage in groups of thirty and begin to play their music so powerfully and rhythmically, that both the audience and the singers are fall into a trance whereby their souls and bodies take over and begin to sway.

The Sufi Festival’s Creative Director is Dr. Faouzi Skali, a Moroccan anthropologist and an ethnologist who is also responsible for the founding Fes Festival of World Sacred Music. Dr. Skali is a professor from the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Fes; an author of many publications including La Voie Soufi” (The Soufi Path), “Traces de Lumiere” (Traces of Light) and “Le Face à Face des Cœurs: Le soufisme aujourd’hui” (A Dialogue of hearts: Sufism Today). He wants this festival to bring something new to people and open up new areas for dialogue and co-operation. Dr. Skali feels that Sufism remains an under-developed resource, and that there is a need to seriously consider what message the peaceful nature of the faith could convey to contemporary society. Thus, one aim is to encourage Moroccans- especially the young- to take an interest in their heritage and attempt to understand Sufism’s sense of symbolism.

Sufism became popular within Morocco because it was easily adaptable with certain aspects of Islam. Sufi men often dress in woolen (suf) clothing, hence the name Sufi. During the ninth and tenth centuries many Sufi leaders attracted people to their teachings by promising that they could cure medical conditions like epilepsy, exorcisms, and led peaceful and humble lifestyles. As a result of their simple lifestyles, poor tribes, such as the Berbers identified with them and converted to this mystical faith.

Sufis claim that they have supernatural powers or Baraka (divine holiness) and could show Muslim Moroccans the way. This inevitably has led to some corruption of power in Morocco and some Muslims do not agree with Sufism. Nevertheless, as people continue to turn to Sufism in times of crisis, the Sufis continue to hold significant political power in Morocco

Despite criticism, Sufism has been a positive influence in Morocco. An example is the young people who embrace Sufism with the goal to live a more cultural and intellectual life. Abd el Malik, a hip-hop star who has gained popularity across Europe, changed his destructive behavior when he discovered Sufism. Abd el Malik has fused Sufi music with rap and is reaching out to other young people to become more spiritual, loving, and non-violent.

Biographies of Sufi musicians who performed at the 2nd Sufi Festival:

Mohamed Ba Jeddoub Born in 1945 in Safi, Morocco, Mohamed Ba Jeddoub, at an early age, showed a great interest for traditional music, especially for Arabic Andalusian music and religious chants. He began his apprenticeship in the Zawiya. In 1961, he studied under the great master Sidi Kadiri in Sale and then under the master Mohamed Tbayek in Marrakech. In 1963, he was introduced to Haj Driss Benjelloun, President of the Association des Amis de la Musique Andalouse in Morocco, who introduced him, in 1968 to the master Haj Abdekrim Raïs, the Labrihi Orchestra conductor. These great masters of Andalusian music helped him develop his talent as a singer, especially in the Maoual style.

Abd Al Malik Born in Paris on the March 14th 1975, and originally from the Congo, Malik lived for a short time in Brazzaville as a young boy. He returned to France in 1981 and grew up in Strasbourg. When his parents divorced, he became involved with gangs and later with religious extremist groups. He went on to found the N.A.P band, then discovered Sufism and became a peace advocate. He released his first solo album, “Le Face à face des cœurs” in 2004 and the second, “Gibraltar”, two years later.

Hassan Haffar The Syrian-born Haffar is a muezzin in Aleppo. He is a craftsman by trade, a storyteller and a poet. He sings Sufi poems such as: “Le Sceau des Prophètes, Mélodies du Paradis”, and “Jardin d’Eden”. His first album, released in 1995, was “Hassan Haffar et les Munsheds d’Alep”. Haffar is very much appreciated in the Arab world and in France and his presence at the Sufi was an event as he very seldom gives public appearances. His latest album was called “Chants d’Éxtase.”


Marrakech International Film Festival

INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL MARRAKESH – This Festival takes place in December each year
The largest event devoted to film that attracts leading Hollywood film directors.

The International Film Festival of Marrakech is typically held in the fall or winter of each year for a stretch of four days. It is renowned for its prestige in terms of cinematographic production and is comparable to the Cannes film festival in the south of France. The Marrakech Film Festival was established in 2001 and has become Morocco’s largest annual event for the medium of film, which is increasingly gaining recognition as an art form. Last year, over two dozen countries participated and around one hundred twenty films were shown.

The International Film Festival of Marrakech is a one of the largest events devoted to film in Morocco; a location of the principal photography of many international productions. Traveling to Morocco for the film festival is a great way to begin a tour of Morocco. The jury of the festival gathers film directors, producers, actors, distributors, journalists and personalities from all over the world and endeavors to reward the best Moroccan and foreign productions of feature films and short films. The festival is chaired by Prince Moulay Rachid of Morocco.

Apart from being a popular source of entertainment, the films shown at Marrakech’s International Film Festival are used as a powerful tool for educating, and even indoctrinating, the public. Today, the cinema industry is very important to Morocco and production standards are maintained at a very high level. The vast, overwhelming landscapes attract film producers and directors from all over the world. There is a special kind of light that only exists here and this is a major attraction for film makers. Cinema fans are also attracted by the intense and unique colors of the Moroccan landscape.

Veteran US movie director Martin Scorsese and Hollywood heartthrob Leonardo DiCaprio were guests of honor at the gala opening of the seventh Marrakech Film Festival. Egypt was also recognized for its vast production of films and active directors. Forty of the festival’s films were major Egyptian movies, including Yacoubian Building, featuring famous Egyptian actor Adel Imam. As a result, around ninety Egyptian directors attended the festival.

Previous festivals have attracted leading Hollywood film directors, such as Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese, whose film “Kundun”, based on the life and writings of the Dalai Lama, was filmed at the Atlas Studios in Ouarzazate Morocco. When traveling to Morocco a visit to the Atlas Studios offers a fascinating look at how films have been made.

Morocco has also been the setting for famous films such as David Lean’s “Lawrence of Arabia” and “Othello” which was directed by Orson Welles. By attracting film makers from all over the world, The International Film Festival of Marrakech promotes Morocco’s many natural and historical sights in an effort to attract further international movie productions. Morocco’s own developing film and travel industry benefit from the festival and interaction with film makers from other countries.

Many attendants of the Marrakech Film Festival enjoy it because it is more intimate and relaxed than some of the overly crowded or more rushed ones like the Cannes or Berlin film festivals. While the more developed festivals can begin as early as eight thirty a.m. the Marrakesh film festival usually shows its first film at eleven a.m. in the morning. There is also a break for lunch and in the evening there are parties and other exciting events to attend.

The International Film Festival of Marrakech has also played an essential role in educating the public, both in Morocco and abroad, on current issues and events in Morocco. It has raised awareness about Moroccan culture and promotes natural and historical sights in Morocco. Morocco’s own developing film industry benefits from the festival and interaction with film makers from other countries. The festival also helps promote Morocco’s growing travel industry.

The films that are shown have an aim to preserve cultural and historical Moroccan events for future generations. While some of the films are shown in English, many more are created in the native dialect of the actor and are dubbed with subtitles. The opportunity to view dubbed foreign films is a unique opportunity because it gives the audience members a chance to gain insight on issues as seen from the perspective of a native.

Some of the 2007 favorite films included the Estonian movie, Autumn Ball, which won the top Golden Star. The film takes place just before the collapse of the Soviet Union and captures the era portrayed through the lives of seven people. Another hit was Grandhotel, an experimental drama set in Czechoslovakia whose workers are interesting to watch due to their bizarre personalities. Another film that was shown from Japan, Funuke Show Some Love, You Losers, uses dark humor to convey societal problems and dysfunctional family life that has become problematic in Japan. This film gave outsiders insight on “the real deal” about the sometimes seemingly perfect country of Japan.

Each year awards including the Best Actor, Best Screenplay, Audience Awards and Cinema of the South are given out. The award ceremonies create incentives for film makers to create higher quality movies and this ultimately enhances the reputation of the film festival.

Marrakech, with its market square that bustles with storey-tellers, acrobats, dancers and musicians, has proven to be the perfect venue for the festival. Past festivals have been a resounding success and there is every reason to believe that future festivals will be even more exciting. Audiences from all over the world are sure to be entertained by the festival and enthralled by the beauty and mystery of Marrakech.


Fantasia, Meknes

FANTASIA – This Festival takes place in May each year
An annual equestrian performance and celebration of traditional folklore in Meknes.

It consists of a group of horse riders, wearing traditional clothes and charging along a straight path at the same speed so as to form a line, at the end of the ride (about a two hundred meters) all riders fire in the sky using old gunpowder guns.The difficulty of the performance is synchronization during the acceleration especially during firing so that one single shot is heard. The two words in Arabic that describe the main events in the Fantasia are ‘harrga’ meaning a movement and barood’ meaning gun-powder. The Fantasia horse and is of type barb. The performance is inspired from historical wartime attacks of Berber and desert knights. Today, Fantasia is considered as a cultural art and a form of martial art.

Each region in Morocco has one or several fantasia groups, called serba, totaling thousands of horse riders nationwide. Performances are usually during local seasonal, cultural or religious festivals, also called mousseum (‘season’ in Arabic).

In most Islamic countries there is an important equestrian tradition based on the meaning of the horse in the Islam. In Saudi Arabia there are Fantasias with “mehari” (riding camels) and in Algeria it is practiced as a collective equestrian game for great traditional celebrations. In this dance, battle rides are stimulated, interspersed with bursts of rifle shots. The dance highlights the nobility of the horseman and the mount. Performed by women from the high mountains of Djurdura, the Kabyle dance celebrates the abundant harvest and olive collecting, where women express their joy prior to Fantasia. The dance is common throughout the west of Algeria and is performed by men. The stamping of the feet which accompanies the dance expresses a bond with the earth and the capacity to endure.
A Fantasia is best characterized as an event with a team of competing horses and complemented by sounds of firing muskets; the latter is mostly done for tourists. Fantasia horses are well bred and well groomed stallions whose bodies are complete muscle. No ordinary work horse is allowed to participate in the Fantasia. Furthermore, there is a Berber saying that “only men and virgin women are allowed to ride these magnificent animals,” because non-virgins may cause the stallion to loose its power and speed.
This colorful display of horsemanship begins with a procession made up of women from the Zayaan tribe on horseback. Traditionally, there is a procession of riders. First in line are the virgin women of the Zayaan tribe; behind them are the village men. Next is the Aid el Baroud (the Festival of Gunpowder). In this section, rows of armed horsemen lined up by rank press their knees forward, dig their heels into the girth, and then take up a fighting position by standing up in their stirrups. The horse riders charge along a straight path at the same speed so as to form a line, at the end of the ride all riders fire in the sky using old a gunpowder gun called a moukahla. The difficulty of the performance is synchronization during the acceleration and especially during firing so that one single shot is heard.
The performance reflects the strong relationship between man and horse as is perceived in Islam.  While each region in Morocco has one or several fantasia groups, called serba, if you are a horse aficionado, Tissa will appeal to you the most. Located thirty-three kilometers from Taounate near the Rif Mountains, Tissa is the destination where horses and riders from the region gather to compete in an annual horse fair. The competition is judged on the speed, discipline, and how the horse is outfitted.
You can also experience the Fantasia in Marrakesh, in the evenings outside the city walls near the Bab Jdid in the month of July. There’s also a restaurant called Chez Ali in the palmary of Marrakesh that offers Fantasia, as entertainment, with Berber song, dance and fireworks while you dine over a traditional meal of miswhi (Moroccan roasted lamb) and couscous. Tourists and horse fans across Morocco can also attend Fantasia in the coastal city of El Jadida, 190 km south of capital Rabat. For the firs time this horse show was held from October 22-26 in 2008 under the theme “Pride and Passion.” The town was transformed into a sight of medieval festivities, color and music.

Fantasia also referred to as the Aiin Aouda, Mock Horse-Back Battle, is an annual equestrian performance and celebration of traditional folklore that takes place in Meknes each July. This horse-riding spectacle includes hundreds of charging horsemen (and women) wearing traditional clothing. Fantasia is a perfect example of traditional folklore in Morocco.


Ramadan Laftour, Harira & Dates

RAMADAN – This holy holiday takes place in each year based upon the lunar calendar
An ancient Islamic holiday whereby Muslims fast during daylight hours for thirty days.

Ramadan, considered as the most important holiday in Islam, happens on the ninth month of the twelve month lunar calendar followed in Islam. These lunar months are twelve days shorter than the Gregorian calendar, so Ramadan occurs earlier in each Gregorian year.

During the year of 2008, Ramadan in Morocco, Mauritania and Iran started a day later than in other countries celebrating Ramadan because the crescent of the new moon was not made visible. Muslims are required to wait until they see the moon because the prophet said begin the fast only when you the moon. However, it is usually between the dates of September 1 to September 29 that the ancient rituals of fasting (saum) and praying in accordance with Ramadan are performed.

During Ramadan, a holy holiday, all Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset for one month, only eating after sundown. Non-Muslims are not expected to observe Ramadan, but should be sensitive about not breaking the fast in public. In its observance, Ramadan parallels the traditional Christian Lent. The ninth month of the Islamic calendar, it commemorates the time in which the Koran was revealed to Muhammad. The Ramadan fast involves abstention from food, drink smoking and sex during daylight hours throughout the months. It is forbidden to even drink water. No matter what part of the world you are from, all Muslims follow the same rules and traditions with regards to Ramadan.

During the times when you are allowed to eat, it is important to only eat healthy and nutritious things good for your body. The point of Ramadan is to show devotion to Allah and to become a master in self-discipline.

There are a few groups that are exempt from Ramadan, but are expected to make up the days during a later time. These groups include menstruating and postpartum women, pregnant and breast-feeding women, travelers and anyone who feels sick or weak. In addition, children before puberty do not have to fast, although many do so to practice for half the day.

Other noticeable changes include class hours getting changed so that they do not interfere with daily prayer. Although praying five times a day is the norm in Islam, prayer times are taken more seriously during Ramadan and many Muslims may go to mosque up to several times a day.

Traffic is even crazier than normal during Ramadan. At about five pm, everyone rushes home to eat as soon as the siren goes off. By six pm, the city is silent and streets are bare as most everyone is at home. Around seven pm, Moroccans are back on the street as they head to the mosque for prayer. After prayer, stores and restaurants open.

Most of the local cafes and restaurants close during the day during Ramadan, some closing for the entire month. For this reason, tourists are not recommended to travel to Morocco during this holy month. At sunset signaled by the sounding of a siren and the lighting of lamps in all city minarets an amazing sense of calm takes over the streets as the fast is broken for the day.

Aïd el Fitr (Eid ul-Fitr or Id-Ul-Fitr) marks the end of the thirty day fasting period and is a great celebration throughout the Muslim world. The end of Ramadan is marked by a three day period of special prayers, feasts and sweets.

Traditionally the fast is broken with a bowl of harira and dates. At the breaking of the fast, everyone in the cities and villages spend their evenings celebrating with food and entertainment. The end of Ramadan is celebrated with Aïd es Seghir (Aïd el Fitr, Eid ul-Fitr or Id-Ul-Fitr) a two-day holiday.

While Ramadan may seem like a perplexing holiday to non-Muslims, non-believers may be surprised to learn how much Muslims look forward to the fast. Many feel it is a time of spiritual healing and cleansing. Post Ramadan, many Muslims participate in Shawwal, a six day fast following Aïd el Fitr.  Since Ramadan is a holiday of learning to become a better person, Muslims prepare foods and buy presents to give to their friends, family and the poor.

For more information about Morocco Festivals or attending a Festival

For more information about Travel and Tours to Morocco plus highlights on Moroccan culture visit Morocco’s Imperial CitiesSeaside Resorts,Sahara DesertBerber villagesA Taste of MoroccoMagical Kasbahs, Ruins & WaterfallsAbsolute Morocco, The Best of MarrakechFes, and Ouarzazate

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel ExplorationTravel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel.We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or 1 (917)703-2078 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

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Fes, Morocco World Music Festival Tour Package, With Travel Exploration, Your Morocco Travel Guide

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

Fes Festival Musician

Travel Exploration & Authentic Asia Present The Fes Festival of World Sacred Music & Morocco Cultural Tour – Hosted by Music Expert, Joel Davis


This 13 Day/ 12 Night Morocco Fes Music Festival Tour will offer a celebratory opportunity for those who are passionate about Sacred World Music to enrich their palate with a variety of international sounds ranging from Andalusian Classical music to African, Asian, Moroccan Sufi and more while taking a journey across Morocco’s Imperial Cities, Majestic Landscapes, the Sahara Desert and Valley’s. This all inclusive 13 Day/12 Night Morocco Private group tour guarantees combined 4/5 Star accommodations at charming Riads and luxury Moroccan hotels and properties, private transport, historical guides, museum and monument entrance fees along with tickets to the Fes Festival of Sacred World Music.  Don’t miss out on this special opportunity to travel to Fes, Morocco and other regions such as Marrakech, Ouarzazate and the Sahara Desert with a music guide and historical guides who will bring depth and understanding to the meaning of Morocco’s music and vast cultural traditions.

View of Fes El Bali, Old Medina & UNESCO World Heritage Site

Fes is a UNESCO World Heritage site and the oldest world medina (old city) in the world. Come join our private group and participate in seeing renowned musicians from all over the world gather in Fes — Morocco’s spiritual capital. Travel Exploration’s private tour package includes a music guide, historical guides, daily sight-seeing tours in air-conditioned luxury minibuses or 4×4 land cruiser with multi-lingual speaking drivers that are fluent in English, Arabic, French and Berber. Also included are tickets to the Fes Festival performances in Morocco’s holy city of Fes. For more information on the 17th Edition of the Fes Festival World Sacred Music program.

Fes Festival Whirling Dervishes

Artists from around the world flock to Morocco’s spiritual capital during the annual Fez Sacred Music Festival. The top music artists from Middle Eastern and Western religious communities gather in Fez for a week of concerts, lectures, exhibitions, and intellectual and artistic exchanges. Performances have included the Sufi Whirling Dervishes of Turkey, Berber trance music, Arab-Andalusian music, Hindustani chants, Celtic sacred music, Christian Gospel, flamenco, and the Philharmonic Orchestra of Morocco, with French classical musicians always proving popular. There has also been Sufi artists from India and Pakistan, Japanese drumming bands and a group of vocalists from Mali.

The Ablution Room in the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca

Arrival at Casablanca International Airport.

►Have breakfast upon arrival, then visit the Mosque of Hassan II. Casablanca is home to the Hassan II Mosque, designed by the French architect Michel Pinseau. It is situated on a promontory looking out to the Atlantic, which can be seen through a gigantic glass floor with room for 25,000 worshippers.Its minaret is the world’s tallest at 210 meters. It is an enormous architectural masterpiece and the second largest religious building in the world. On Fridays, the Mosque of Hassan II is open to non-Muslims.The Mosque of Hassan II’s promontory offers lovely views overlooking Casa in the residential Afna quarter.

►After visiting the Hassan II Mosque, take the road to Rabat for a half-day tour of this Imperial City.

►During your half-day tour you will learn Rabat’s history and enjoy its beautiful domes, minarets, wide avenues and green spaces. Your guide will escort you on a walk around the picturesque Almohad northern walls of the Oudaïa Kasbah. The kasbah was built by Moulay Ismaïl from 1672-1727 to protect the city and is enclosed by ramparts dating from the Almohad period. Visit Bab Oudaïa, a monumental gate and example of Almohad military architecture. See the Musée de Oudaïa, Moulay Ismaïl’s palace exhibiting collections of Moroccan folk art. Before moving on to city medina, relax in the Moorish style Andalusian garden.

►Visit the Royal Palace, the Hassan Tower which stands on the hill overlooking the Wadi Bou Regreg. It is a gigantic mosque, emblematic of Rabat and famous for its unfinished minaret where storks nest.

►Next door, visit the beautiful Mausoleum of Mohammed V decorated with stained glass windows, white marbleand a wrought-iron entryway with a stairway leading to an impressive dome.

►Lunch in Rabat, by the Sea.

►Explore the gardens nearby and visit the Palace of Rabat and visit the Necropolis at Chellah/ Kasbah of Chellah.

►Dinner & Spend the night at a 4 Star Charming Riad or Hotel in Fes.








Moulay Idriss Mosque Fes



►After breakfast your day will begin at the Merenid Tombs of Fès.

►Next, stop at the Musée des Armes, a fortress that once protected Fès. Today it is possible to see a display of 8,000 pieces of artillery from Makina, the arsenal built by Moulay Hassan I.

►Enter the Fès el- Bali through the symmetrical horse shoe arches at Bab Boujeloud (The Blue Gate). Fès -el Bali, best characterized as a sea of rooftops embellished with minarets and domes, is too narrow for cars. Aside from walking, donkeys and mules are still the best way to travel within the cities old walls.

►Upon entering Rue Talaa Kebira, the main street in the medina, you will see lines of shops covered by canopies. Make your way to the Karaouiyine Mosque. Located in the Karaouiyine quarter, the Mosque is one of the oldest in the world and functioned as the first university in Morocco. After your visit, continue along the streets which will lead you to some of Fes’ most important buildings including Dar el- Magana, a fourteenth century water clock and Zaouia el Tijaniya, containing the tomb of Ahmed el Tijani, who spread his infamous doctrine Tariqq el- Tijaniya (The Way) throughout Morocco.

►We will also stop to visit the Ech Cherabliyine Mosque (Mosque of the Slipper makers) then browse the souks selling henna, slippers, caftans, silks, jewelry and spices.

►Next onto the UNESCO recognized site, Fondouk el- Najjarine. Within the foundouk’s three floors is the Musée de Bois, which displays carved doors from the Bou Inania Medersa.

►Stop for lunch within the medina at one of the fine Moroccan palace-restaurants that serves an extravaganza of mezas for lunch.

►After lunch we will visit the Musée Dar el- Batha to view the great collection of pottery, leather-work, wood, books and manuscripts from the nineteenth century.

►Next, enter Bab el Ftouh, the “Gateway of the Aperture” to explore the Andalusian quarter, a residential part of the medina laced with monuments. Our last part of the tour will take you into the Fès el Jedid, a kasbah which functioned as Morocco’s administrative center until 1912. Explore the royal palace and many interesting quarters including the Moulay Abdalllah Quarter, the Mellah (Jewish Quarter) and a little farther down south lies Ville Nouvelle (The New Quarter).

Within the Fes medina, we will the following historical sites:

Medersa Bou Inania: An (Islamic school) founded by Abu Inan Faris that is highly decorated from floor to ceiling. The medersa is one of the few religious places in Morocco that is accessible to non-Islamic tourists.

Kairaouine Mosque: Morocco’s second largest mosque was built by Fatima in 857. The Kairaouine Mosque became the home of the West’s first university and the world’s foremost center of learning at the beginning of the second millennium.


University of Al-Karaouine: Founded in 859, this university is one of the leading spiritual and educational centers of the Muslim world and is considered the oldest continuously operating institution of higher learning in the world.

Zaouia Moulay Idriss II: A zaouia (shrine) dedicated to and the tomb of Moulay Idriss II, who ruled Morocco from 807 to 828 and founded the city of Fès for the second time in 810.

Dar Batha: A Hispano-Moorish palace dating from the end of the 19th century that houses admirable collections of traditional art from Fès.

Weavers Cooperative: We will also visit the Weavers Cooperative located in a residential neighborhood off a main shopping street. The workshop specializes in weaving the finest jellaba fabric, made of silk and wool threads imported from Italy. The shop also makes a quality jellaba fabric from locally spun, textured wool thread called hubba -sometimes referred to as couscous, because it’s nubby texture resembles Morocco’s national semolina dish of the same name.

Tanneries: The Chourara or the Tanner’s Quarters is the most lively and picturesque souks in Fès. The Tanneries are often located near watercourses like the Wadi Fès and at a distance from residential areas due to the strongly unpleasant smells they produce.

Carpet Demonstration: Antique and Modern Carpets is one of the places in Fès el Bali where you can see a Berber carpet demonstration. You will be offered mint tea and follow your guide up a coil of stairs to a small area to watch carpets being made by young girls who come from the mountains to show tourists how Berber carpets are made.

Dyers Market: The dyers market, located along Rue de Teinturies, is the best place to see the dying vats which have been used for centuries to soak the skins of sheep, goat, cows and camels after they have their hair and flesh removed is best seen from the neighboring terraces. You will see many tanned hides colored with natural pigments ranging from shades of brown, black, turquoise fuchsia, yellow and orange.

Potter’s Cooperative: You will also visit the Potter’s Cooperative. Also known as Place el-Seffarine, this kisseria is the most important center for the production Fasiss style ceramics, brass-ware and silverware in Morocco.

►Welcome Dinner at Le Maison Bleue,  an exotic and fine Fasis restaurant in the Old Medina with a quaint show of Gnaoua Music as you dine.

First night- showcase of the Fes Festival of Sacred Music’s sites and sounds at the Bab Makina in Fes.

►Spend the night at a 4 Star Charming Riad or Hotel in Fes.


►Breakfast at your Hotel in Fes. Then take the road to Meknes.

►Arrive in Meknes. Begin your visit at the 18th Century Palace built by Sultan Mohammed Ben Abdallah.

►Then pass through the triumphal arch. Standing at sixteen meters high with an eight meter long arch, the intricately patterned triumphal arch is argued to be the most beautiful in Morocco. Enter Place El-Hedime (Square of Ruins) which links the medina and the kasbah. The square is lined with modern residential buildings and a covered food souk (market).

►We will stop and visit the Musée Dar Jamaï, a museum showing modern Moroccan arts, woodwork, ceramics, carpets, costumes, jewelryand metalwork. The sophisticated building was once a palace incorporating a mosque, menzah (pavilion), courtyard, kitchen and hammam.

►Next we will visit the Bou Inania Medersa to explore the beautiful Koranic school established by the Merinids in the 14th century. Opposite of the Medersa, see the Grand Mosque.

►Among the most impressive elements of this imperial city is the grand gate named after the architect, El-Mansour, a Christian renegade who converted to Islam. The design of the gate plays with Almohad patterns. It has zellij mosaics of excellent quality. The marble columns were taken from the Roman ruins of Volubilis.

►Lunch in Meknes.

►After visiting Meknes, take the road to explore the breathtaking archaeological site of Volubilis (Walili). Once occupied by the Romans, Volubilis has been recognized by UNESCO as a world heritage site and gained international acclaim when Martin Scorsese made it a feature location for his film, The Last Temptation of Christ.

►Begin your visit by discovering the fascinating Roman ruins adorned with beautiful mosaics and colorful tiles depicting Roman mythology. The ruins are spread out across several acres and what remains visible is several fragments of wall, parts of massive columns, the capitol, the basilica and a triumphal arch. The ruins reveal how the Roman Empire transformed the original Carthaginian settlement into a typical Roman city complete with mansions, a town center, a triumphal arc and temples devoted to the Roman gods.

►Enjoy tea at the small café that sits just below the Volubilis ruins. Next explore the open-air museum with remains of altars, sculptural fragments and colorful mosaics.

►Commence your visit in Volubilis, then take the road to Fes.  Arrrive in the evening.

Second night- showcase of the Fes Festival of Sacred Music’s sites and sounds at the Bab Makina in Fes.

►Spend the night at a 4 Star Charming Riad or Hotel in Fes.








Fes Batha Museum



►Rise, have breakfast at your Riad, then stroll the Jnan S’bil Garden, a popular botanical garden in Fes where locals frequent for morning and afternoon walks, to read a book or relax. Jnan S’bil Garden has been closed for several years for a reservation and it is re-opening spring 2010.

►Next, visit Fes’ renown Pottery Cooperative where you can view how the Fasis pottery and zellij tile are made by hand. Tour the cooperative to see how the various artisans work using the ancient Fasis techniques that are unique to this Imperial city and region. Participate if you wish by throwing a pot or starting to make your own zellij tile. See the works of the artisans which are available for purchase as well.

►After visiting the Fasis Pottery Cooperative enjoy the rest of the afternoon visiting other sites on your own or exploring the old Fes medina cobble stoned streets or consider a visit to a Spa just outside of Fes.

►Fes, is believed to be the world’s largest contiguous car-free urban area and you will be able to roam free, only having to move aside for the donkeys that will need to pass bringing goods across from place to place.

►If roaming around Fes on your own is not of interest, then take the road to visit Sidi Harazem, a Spa and green area just outside of Fes which contains hot water springs that are rich in magnesium. The benefits of these curative waters may be enjoyed at the health spa.There is also an ancient sacred pool surrounded by eucalyptus, palm and pink laurel trees.

►The other option is to visit Moulay Yacoub an old French, style Spa with thermal stations, cold dipping pool along with rock hot saunas and steam rooms. Compliment your visit with an old world, French- Moroccan massage with rose, orange or jasmine oil, receiving a treatment from head to toe.


►Dinner options are at your Riad, in the Ville Nouvelle (new city), Le Palais D’Medina or Le Maison Bleue.

Third night- showcase of the Fes Festival of Sacred Music’s sites and sounds at the Bab Makina in Fes.

►Spend the night at a 4 Star Charming Riad or Hotel in Fes.



►Rise, have breakfast at your Riad. Then take the road to Merzouga. Enroute to Merzouga, we will pass Ifrane, stopping to see the cedar tree forrest and the local barbary monkeys.  We will also pass the American- Moroccan University which was built by the Saudi’s.

▶ We will have lunch during our journey in the Ziz Valley or at another local town en route to the Sahara desert. We will continue the road to Merzouga and arrive before sunset.

▶Arrive in Merzouga before sunset, then go by dromedary camel for 45 minutes- one-hour, at sunset into the Erg Chebbi Dunes to camp overnight luxury Biouvac tent at an oasis.  Your Tuareg guide will share some of the Sahara Deserts’ secrets. As you glide across humpback on these silent, mystical dunes there will be countless opportunities to photograph the endless rolling dunes.

Dinner & Spend the night at a Charming Bivouac near an Oasis within the Erg Chebbi Dunes of Merzouga’s Sahara Desert with traditional Entertainment in a Majestic 1001 Nights Tent.– Guest House Option Available For Those Who Prefer.



▶Rise, have breakfast and take a sunrise trek back to Merzouga center. Enjoy the flora and fauna that is unique to the Sahara. Then take the road to visit the Saharan Desert towns of Rissani and the capital of fossils, Erfoud. Visit the old ksars and then continue the road to the village of Ait Ouzzine, located in N’kob which is nestled within the Middle Atlas Mountains.

Aït Ouzzine is a Berber village inhabited by over 300 families who live in beautifully painted crenulated kasbahs, with their own henna fields, water wells, livestock and gardens. This peaceful village is tucked away along an impressive desert route connecting the Draa Valley (Tansikht) and Rissani.

Lunch will be served to you in Aït Ouzzine by a traditional Berber, Moroccan family. The menu will include a traditional meal of fresh baked bread with spices and a chicken and vegetable tajine and fresh local fruits for desert.  After lunch, you can have your hands and feet painted with henna or your hair adorned with saffron by a local village artist and relax.  Experience the tradition of Berber perfume made from musk and amber along with the villages own spices.

►End the afternoon in Ait Ouzzine with mint tea and almonds.  Take the through the Draa Valley back to Ouarzazate before sunset.

►The Draa Valley is the road of the old caravans that were once traveled to transport dates and other good from the Draa Region to Marrakech. Arrive and have dinner at your Riad.

►Dinner & Spend the night at a 4 Star Charming Riad or Hotel in Ouarzazate.


►Breakfast at your Riad.    “See Ouarzazate and die” are feelings often expressed by Moroccans with regards to this magical city that is the door to the Sahara desert. Located just four hours from Marrakesh, Ouarzazate is the main Berber city in the south known for its spectacular sunsets and dramatic mountain and desert scenery. Surrounded by breathtaking valleys, Ouarzazate was once crossing point for African traders seeking to reach northern cities in Morocco and Europe. During the French period, Ouarzazate expanded considerably as a garrison town and became the administrative centre of the Zagora region. Ouarzazate became famous when it’s nearby Kasbah;  Ait Benhaddou in the 1962 film Lawrence of Arabia.

► Visit the Oasis of Fint, the Atlas Film Studios, Aït Benhaddou & Kasbah Taouirt.

► Take the road to the Oasis of Fint that hovers under the Atlas Mountains. Journey on a one-hour walk inside the Oasis where you will have a cup of tea with the headmasters family Azziz Ouaziz and tour the surrounding area where date palm oases and dramatic desert scenery are king.

► After visiting the Oasis of Fint we will take the road to the Atas Film Studios. David Lean filmed Lawrence of Arabia at The Atlas Film Studios in the early 1960’s. Since then many famous directors have followed in his footsteps to exploit the magnificent scenery. International blockbusters shot here in recent years include: the French version of Cleopatra, Bertolucci’s Sheltering Sky, Scorsese’s Kundun, Gillies MacKannon’s Hideous Kinky, Ridley Scott’s Gladiator, Black Hawke Down, Oliver Stone’s Alexander The Great, Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven, and Penelope Cruz’s Sahara.

► Next visit Aït Benhaddou. Aït Benhaddou is located 32 km from Ouarzazate lies the picturesque village. Aït Benhaddou of Aït Benhaddou is situated in Souss-Massa-Draâ on a hill along the Ouarzazate River. Lawrence of Arabia was filmed here and Orson Welles used it as a location for Sodome and Gomorrah; and for Jesus of Nazareth the whole lower part of the village was rebuilt. In recent years more controlled restoration has been carried out under UNESCO auspices. Aït Benhaddou is one of many locations in this region used for shooting Hollywood films. This Berber village of towered and crenulated Kasbahs that once guarded the lucrative caravan route through the Atlas Mountains. 

Lunch on a terrace with clear views of Aït Benhaddou and enjoy a traditional Moroccan or Moroccan salada and a hearty tajine.

► End the day with a short visit to Kasbah Taouirt which was was built by the Pasha Glaoui. Kasbah Taouirt’s location was strategic for trading routes and in the 1930’s when the Glaoui ruled the South it was then one of Morocco’s largest Kasbahs. Explore its nooks and crannies and discover some local female painters who sell their art inside as well as the many quality silver shops just steps outside the Kasbah.

►Dinner & Spend the night at a 4 Star Charming Riad or Hotel in Ouarzazate.



►Breakfast at your Riad. Take the road to visit Bouthgrar, the Valley of Nomads and the Dades Valley.

►Begin your visit at the breakthtaking Valley of Nomads Located in Bouthgrar is the Valley of Nomads, a beautiful 10 kilometer valley where Nomads live in caves that are surrounded by Mount Mgoun. Mount Mgoun is the second highest mountain in Morocco and boasts extraordinery views. Have tea with a Nomad family.  See first hand where they make their own carpets and co exist in Bouthgrar with other Nomad families.

►Your journey will then take you through the Dadès Valley which covers 125 km between Ouarzazate and Boumalne du Dadès in the High Atlas Mountains.

►Once you reach Boumalne at first sight you notice the limestone cliffs with uniquely shaped erosions and superb scenery and the valley’s pise (windy roads). Driving along you will pass flower filled fields, fertile fields, riverbanks and several fortified ksours. At the bottom of Gorge of Boumalne Dadès there are ruined hilltop Kasbahs and valley floor gardens.

►Lunch will be served at a nearby guesthouse that offers local Moroccan fare and a panoramic view. Relax and sip mint tea while gazing at the impressive valley view.

►Dinner & Spend the night at a 4 Star Charming Riad or Hotel in Ouarzazate.


►Rise early, breakfast at your Riad and then take the road to Marrakech.

▶En route you will go by piste to visit Kasbah Telout, one of Morocco’s hidden jewels and a famous Kasbahs that is the origin of the Pacha Glaoui Family. Kasbah Telout is hidden among a tiny road in a small village that is 20 minutes outside Tichka. It’s history stands alone with its original zellij tile, authentic, preserved silks and grand remnants of the Glaou family. Unlike the other Kasbahs in Southern Morocco, Telout was occupied by the Glaoui’s instead of the slaves and has stunning views. This Kasbahs has yet to be coined a UNESCO World Heritage site and while it appears in parts to be in ruins on the exterior, its interior is one of true spelndor.


Lunch in the Tizzin Tichkas Pass f and visit the Argan Cooperative where Argan Oil, Butter and Cosmetics are made with the Argan nut by hand as Berber women crack the nuts and the grind them one by one. Have a complimentary tasting.  This cooperative is run entirely by women. Lunch in the village of Tadart.


►Arrive in Marrakech. Evening Free. Dinner at your Riad or in the heart of Djemma El Fna Square.


►Dinner & Spend the night at a 4 Star Charming Riad or Hotel in Marrakech.



►Breakfast at your Riad. Begin your one-day Historical Tour of Marrakech.

►Your introduction to Marrakech will begin in the new city, we will navigate our way to French, Gueliz and head to the Majorelle Gardens, a magical and lush small garden estate designed by Jacque Majorelle and maintained by Yves Saint Laurent. The Majorelle Garden is filled with colorful walkways, ponds, cactus and plants as well as a beautiful shop with hand-made goods. On our return to your hotel, we will pass by the La Mammounia Hotel Garden (where Alfred Hitchcock wrote the famous film The Birds).

►Visit the 19th Centurey Bahia Palace, originally built for Si Moussa, a former slave who became King Moulay Hassan’s chamberlain. The palace holds a courtyard and riads decorated with and the most beautiful carved stucco, Arabic architecture. Next visit the 16th Century Saadian Tombs and El Mansour mosque. Marrakech is a city of underground channels built by the architects from Cordoba, Spain to provide water for the town and Palmery.

►Next visit the old, Medina, the old quarter of the Marrakech. From here we will explore this historically charming area by foot. In Djemma el Fna, you will visit the famous 12th century Koutouba Mosque, its influential minaret and gardens.

►Your guide will lead you through the labyrinth streets and alleys of the Djemma. Enjoy aromatic smells, taste fresh squeezed orange juice and venture into the souks specializing in Berber carpets, silver jewelry, artisan workshops, handmade shoes and tanneries.  Enjoy a three- course lunch consisting of fresh salad, tajine and fruit at one of Marrakech most delectable restaurants.

►Next we will visit the Museum of Marrakech, a Contemporary Moroccan Art Museum or Tiskiwin, a private museum dedicated to popular arts & crafts, styled as a beautiful Spanish-Moroccan house, next door to Dar Si Said palace, a smaller version of the Bahia.

►Evening free to explore Marrakech on your own.  Your private driver will be available to escort you to a variety of restaurants we recommend.

►Dinner at your Riad or one of Marrakech’s fabulous restaurants, Le Marrakechi, Le Fonduk or Le Comptoir Darna.

►Dinner & Spend the night at a 4 Star Charming Riad or Hotel in Marrakech.



Breakfast at your Riad. Visit the Ourika Valley’s Setti Fatima Waterfalls or spend the day exploring on your own in the Marrakech medina.

Attend the CHEZ ALI FANTASIA, Equestrian & Moroccan Music show. Three Course Dinner served on site in Marrakech’s lush palmary. Return to your Riad for the evening. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to see a traditional Fantasia unless you visit Meknes during the Fantasia Festival.


►Dinner & Spend the night at a 4 Star Charming Riad or Hotel in Marrakech.





► Rise, breakfast at your Riad. Then take the road to visit the seaside port of Essaouira. The journey to this former Portuguese fishing village offers up only a few roadside towns and the occasional Berber village. In the ’60s and ’70s, Essaouira was a pitstop on the hippie trek from Marrakesh. Jimi Hendrix made the pilgrimage, as did Bob Marley and Cat Stevens. Essaouira was the inspiration for Hendrix’s song “Castles Made of Sand”.

► Visit this sea-side medieval town that boasts lovely white-washed and blue-shuttered houses, colonnades, thuya wood workshops, art galleries and mouthwatering seafood.  Once called Mogador by European sailors and traders, Essaouria is known for its annual Gnaoua Music Festival that attracts 300,000+ people in June. It also has an expansive beach for surfing called Plage de Safi.  The medina of Essaouira (formerly “Mogador”) is a UNESCO World Heritage listed city, as an example of a late-18th century fortified town.

► Take a stroll along the town’s sunlit pedestrian main square, Place Prince Moulay el Hassan and the Skala du Port, the fishing harbor, offers breathtaking views of the Portuguese ramparts. Explore the ramparts and the spice and jewelry souks of the medina. Your guide will take you to the old Jewish Mellah and explain the entire history of Essaouira.

► Have lunch at the fish-grill cafes, with wooden tables and benches laid out overlooking the sea that was once- in the 19th century- the only Moroccan port south of Tangier.

► After lunch visit Orson Welles’ Square and memorial, designed by Samir Mustapha, one of the towns artists, which pays homage to Orson Welles filming of Othello in EssouariaEssaouira’s history is a reminder of the times when Spain, Portugal and England fought to maintain control over its coasts. It has a typical Portuguese harbor that is a stunning example of Moorish and Portuguese architecture.

►Dinner & Spend the night at a 4 Star Charming Riad or Hotel in Marrakech.


►Breakfast at your Hotel. Departure at Casablanca’s International Airport.

Fes Festival Tour Rate: $4,480 Per Person (Double Occupancy Preferred, Not Required)
All Inclusive, Private Group Transport in Luxury Minibus or 4×4 Land cruiser, 4/5 Accommodations, licensed historical guides, some meals, museum and monument entrances fees, tickets to the Fes Festival of Sacred World Music

For more information about the Fes, Morocco Tour Package and the World Sacred Music Festival

For more information about Travel and Tours to Morocco plus highlights on Moroccan culture visit Morocco’s Imperial CitiesSeaside Resorts,Sahara DesertBerber villagesA Taste of MoroccoMagical Kasbahs, Ruins & WaterfallsAbsolute Morocco, The Best of MarrakechFes, and Ouarzazate

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration

Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel.We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or 1 (917)703-2078 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

Fes Music Festival Tour, Fes Festival of World Sacred Music, Fes Music Festival, Fes, 17th Edition Fes Festival, Dar Tazi, Batha Museum, Bab al Makina, Fes Festival Concert, Fes Festival in the City, Kairouine Mosque Fes, Moulay Idriss Mosque Fes, Marrakech, Ouarzazate, Sahara Desert, Erg Chebbi Dunes,  Morocco Holidays, Morocco Travel, Travel Exploration, Travel to Morocco


Fes Festival World Sacred Music 17th Edition June 2011 Program, Your Morocco Travel Guide

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

Fes Festival 2011

Travel Exploration is proud to present the final music and conference schedule for the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music. The Fes Festival Of World Sacred Music’s 17th Edition will take place from June 3rd – 12th, 2011. The Fes Music Festival can be attended by taking a 13 Day/ 12 Night Morocco Tour with Music Host, Joel Davis which includes discovers of Morocco’s Imperial Cities, the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music and the Sahara region. Discovering Fes and the Fes Festival can also be done on a private journey to Fes. This immense undertaking of a Fes Festival Program in the city of Fes, Morocco is once again spearheaded by Mr. Faouzi Skali. Mr. Faouzi Skali has a Doctor in anthropology, ethnology and religion sciences. Faouzi Skali was born in Fes Morocco in 1953.  Mr. Skali founded the international symposium A soul for the globalization – since 2001 – in parallel of the Festival of World Sacred Music in Fes. Those of us who know Mr. Faouzi Skali’s word and his commitment to peace and a greater Fes are pleased to have him back at the helm. The 17th Edition of the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music is going to be like none other. At a time when the Muslim world is looking for reform towards democracy and peace, Morocco once again leads with a commitment to these efforts linked to culture, arts and community. The mix of musicians from around the world at the 17th annual Fes Festival within the modernized, peaceful and progressive country of Morocco is surely to be at the threshold of the world’s eyes and an opportunity for world and spiritual music to once again bridge the gaps that exist among us.

Faouzi Skali, Director of Fes Festival of World Sacred Music

Fes Festival of World Sacred Music – 17th Edition 2011 (June 3rd – 12th, 2011)

Friday, June 3rd

Bab Al Makina – 8.30 pm Creation

Opera ‘Majnun and Leila’ Armand Amar, art direction ‐ Leili Anvar, booklet (lyrics/script) With  the  Shanghai  Percussion  –  Japanese  Drums  –  Sarah  Nemtanu,  violin  soloist  with  the  London Symphony Orchestra ‐ Gregory Korneliu, cello ‐ Ibrahim Maalouf, trumpet ‐ Levon Minassian,  duduk  ‐  Seye  Mohamed,  ney  ‐  Zaim  Abdou,  oud  ‐  Guo  Gan,  erhu  ‐  Mara Dubrescu,  piano  ‐  Mathias  Duplessy,  guitar  ‐  Salah  Aguili,  Iranian  singing  ‐  Sandrine  Piau and Adele Carlier, classical singing – Epi, Mongolian throat singing ‐ Asif Ali Khan, qawwali singing  Armand Amar, a cinematic composer – from the prestigious “Amen” by Costa‐Gavras to the recent “Home” (a cult‐oriented ecological movie by Yann Arthus‐Bertrand) ‐ offers a musical and poetic journey of the great Eastern traditions, from Persia to the Arab world. The  universal  story  of  Majnun  and  Leila,  a  legend  carried  over  time  through  stories, novels,  poems,  films  and  songs  in  Arabic,  Kurdish,  Pashto,  Hindi,  Urdu  or  Bengali,celebrates absolute love and represents the idea of a true mystical quest.

Saturday June 4th

Batha Museum – 4.00 pm

Elena Ledda and his quartet with polyphonic choir Su Cuncordu ‘E Su Rosario de Santu Lussurgiu ‐ Sardinia, Italy Cantendi A Deus. Surrounded  by  the  beautiful  voices  of  Sardinia,  Elena  Ledda  renews  the  sacred  songs  ofan  island  whose  pastoral  society  has  preserved  its  rich  oral  heritage,  a  heritage  that exudes the wild beauty of the ancient mountains and Mediterranean.

Bab Al Makina – 8.30 pm

Maria Bethânia ‐ Brazil Romances and spiritual songs / Canticos, preces e suplicas. A native of Bahia, Maria Bethânia was the spokesperson of a youth movement involved in post‐dictatorship and feminism. Today, the adored grande dame of popular song – known as  Abelha‐rainha  (“Queen  Bee”)  –  plays  a  repertoire  of  homage  and  praise  to  the  Virginary, full of a sensual fervor related to Brazil’s multiculturalism.

Nawah Fes Festival 2011 Performers

Sunday June 5th

Batha Museum – 4.00 pm

Nawah ‐ Morocco and Palestine Traditional Sephardic Jewish and Palestinian songs   Françoise Atlan, voice Moneim Adwan, voice and oud  Bijan Cheminani, zarb and daf . At  the  junction  of  the  three  monotheistic  traditions  of  medieval  Spain  and  a  musical tradition  evoking  exile,  lost  homelands  and  purified  love,  Françoise  Atlan  and  Moneim Adwan form a meeting between the musical history of the Maghreb and the Middle East.

Bab Al Makina ‐ 8.30 pm

Julia Boutros – Lebanon

The consciousness of a great voice. Following the path of the illustrious Feirouz to whom she is often compared, Julia Boutros  continues  with  intelligence  a  career  leading  her  to  be  respected  by  the  entire  Arab  world. Simple  in  her  interpretation,  serene  in  her  appearance,  Julia  Boutros  has  all  the attractions of a diva aware of the political realities surrounding her.

Monday June 6th

Batha Museum – 4.00 pm

The ‘Kinor David’ choir under the direction of Michael Abittan ‐ Casablanca, Morocco. The art of matrouz. This  year,  in  the  spirit  of  the  spiritual  dialogue  that  characterizes  this  festival,  the  Jewish  Arabic tradition – dear to the musical heritage of Morocco – evokes the land of Andalusia,  a  crucible  of  Muslim,  Hebrew  and  Christian  cultures,  where  Jewish  and  Arab  poetry  are  embroidered and entwined.

Night in the Medina I

Dar Mokri –  8 and 10 pm Jesús Corbacho – Andalusia‐ Spain Saetas, songs of praise

Dar Tazi – 8.30 pm Salah Aghili ‐ Iran The poetic art of Djalâl ad‐Dîn Rûmî. The  Persian  music  and  poetry  of  Djalâl  ad‐Dîn  Rûmî  opens  the  doors  of  perception,  lifting  our  imagination  into  the  heart  of  ancient  warriors  and  epic  songs,  before  descending  into  deep nostalgia and mystic sadness.

Batha Museum – 9.00 pm

Prem Sanyas, “The Light of Asia” ‐ North India A masterpiece of silent film directed by Franz Osten (1925) and set to music on stage by the ‘Divana Ensemble’ ‐ manghaniyars and langas musicians from Rajasthan.  Prem  Sanyas  evokes  the  early  years  of  Buddha,  also  known  as  Siddhartha  Gautama,  the long‐awaited son of King Suddhodana. After growing up in a closed and protected world  the  young  man  escapes  the  palace  and  discovers  another  aspect  of  human  existence: poverty,  disease  and  death.  The  film,  shot  in  Jaipur,  is  an  opportunity  to  discover  the  sumptuous lives and traditions of the rajahs of the time.

Dar Adiyel ‐ 9 and 10.30 pm

Alèmu Aga ‐ Ethiopia

Sacred song and lyre bèguèna Since the time of the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon (1000 BC), there were 3000 years of independence experienced by the Kingdom of Axum, before it became Abyssinia and Ethiopia. These countries then converted to Christianity in the 4th century at the same  time as the Roman Empire. The  crystalline  notes  of  the  lyre  and  singing  recitals  of  Alemu  Aga  take  us  back  to  the  chants  of  King  David.  At  once  meditative  and  therapeutic,  these  songs  are  ancient  and deeply peaceful.

Dar Tazi – 11.00 pm Sheikh Taha ‐ Upper Egypt The Inshad sufiya of Luxor The  Munshiddin  of  Upper  Egypt  are  known  for  their  poetic  verve  and  stage  presence.  Very  popular,  they  are  accompanied  by  the  Takht  Ensemble  who  play  melodic  ancient tunes  inspired  by  old  songs  such  as  Oum  Kalthoum.  Their  Sufi  singing  ‐  inshad  Sufiya  ‐  is  bright and accessible to all.

Gundecha Brothers Fes Festival 2011 Performers

Tuesday June 7th
Batha Museum – 4.00 pm

Gundecha Brothers ‐ North India

The sacred art of dhrupad. Dhrupad singing is the oldest classical music tradition alive in the Indian subcontinent. It is  rooted  in  the  recitation  of  the  Vedic  hymns.  Originally  sung  in  the  temples,  the  vocal  technique recreates the exaltation of the loving soul.

Dar Tazi – 11.00 pm Sheikh Taha – Upper Egypt Sufi Inshad of Luxor Night in the Medina II

Dar Mokri – 8.00 pm Mohamed Amin El Akrami and his orchestra ‐ Morocco Andalusian tradition of Tetouan. Mohamed  Amine  Akrami  carries  with  him  the  musical  heritage  of  Andalusian  Tetouan,  a  small town in the Rif Mountains often called “the Andalusian patio of Morocco”. The tune  contains  both  sophisticated  and  bitter  aspects  and  the  music  al‐âla  of  Tetouan  is  beautifully  enhanced  by  the  Mohamed  Amine  Akrami  Ensemble.  Mohamed  Amine Akrami  perfected  his  art  with  religious  songs  from  madih  to  samâ,  studying  under  great masters such as Mohamed Larbi Temsamani and Abdessadak Chekara.

Batha Museum – 8.00 pm Ensemble Barroco Asuncion Paraguay ‐ Latin America Alexander Chauffaud, musical direction

Jessica Bogado and Laura Delogu, sopranos. Samples of Peruvian Codes from the Andean area in the 18th century Halfway between the European Baroque universe and traditional music, the viewpoints of two civilizations meet in sacred music. These works, born of the “meeting of two worlds”,  make  Latin  America  the  chosen  land  of  a  musical  art  that  has  developed  in  staggering proportions  since  the  late  16th  and  17th  centuries.  The  young  musicians  from  Paraguay  ‘Barroco’  tell  the  story  of  this  journey  by  blending  indigenous  and  European  instruments, from the harpsichord to the Paraguayan harp.

Homayoun Sakhi Fes Festival 2011 Performers

Batha Museum – 10.00 pm Homayoun Sakhi – Afganistan Art of Rubâb

Afghanistan, formerly at the crossroads of the Persian, Indian and Asian civilizations, remains a country of proud mountain warriors, who are today faced with the game of international powers. Homayoun Sakhi, a musical revelation in recent years, has devoted his existence to rubâb,  an Afghan lute, which sounds volatile and cutting.

Dar Mokri – 10.30 pm Nahal Tajddod and Jean‐Claude Carrière

“The Conference of the Birds” by Farid Eddin Attar Jean‐Claude Carrière and Nahal Tajaddod revive the Sufi tale of Farid Eddin Attar during areading punctuated by music. All  the  birds,  known  and  unknown,  met  one  day  and  discovered  that  they  lacked  a  king.  They  decided  to  go  in  search  of  the  bird‐king  Simorg,  a  symbol  of  Truth  in  the  Persiamystical  tradition.  This  famous  story  of  initiation,  interspersed  with  stories  and  anecdotes,  remains  forever  a  jewel  of  Muslim  spirituality.  The  great  Rumi,  Persian  mystic  and poet, said of its author, Attar (c. 1140 ‐ c. 1230): “He was the soul of Sufism, I am only following his trail.”

Dar Adiyel – 9.30 pm Ensemble Wajd – Morocco and Syria. Songs with existential and spiritual dimension, between tradition and modernity Naziha Meftah, songs  Ghaïs Jasser, composition and piano  Khaled Roumo, poetry

Dar Tazi –  11.00 pm Divana ‐ Rajasthan, North India Sufi songs of the Thar Deser A  raw  voice  capable  of  shaping  a  myriad  of  songs,  in  perfect  harmony  with  the  amanchiya  and  sarangui  fiddles,  is  the  image  of  these  nomadic  societies  that  cultivate  ahigh poetic refinement. In the poetic paradise that is the ancient land of Rajas (Rajasthan,meaning  ‘Land  of  Princes’  in  Sanskrit),  the  poet’s  voice  rises,  sinuous  and  warm,  and  illuminates our soul like “the expanse of stars in the night”.

Abd Al Malik Fes Festival 2011 Performer

Wednesday June 8th Batha Museum – 4.00 pm

Urban Phileas – Reunion Island, France Reunion  Island  is  a  microcosm  of  intersecting  African,  Asian,  Indian,  Arab  and  Europeanpopulations,  a  symbol  of  multiculturalism  where  all  faiths  and  communities  live  together.The  spirit  of  this  special  island  is  expressed  through  maloya,  between  Dravidian  India,Malagasy  possession  rituals  (servis  kabaré)  and  the  legacies  of  African  slavery.  UrbanPhileas,  belonging  to  the  family  Lele,  practices  this  ritual,  which  has  been  passed  downthrough generations of ancestors.

Bab Al Makina – 8.30 pm Abd Al Malik ‐ France Rapper,  slammer  and  composer,  Abd  Al  Malik  is  the  media  figure  of  a  new  culture  that has  built  itself  out  of  the  search  for  another  life,  another  language,  while  managing  the  ups and downs of existence in an urban jungle. Abd Al Malik is inspired by, amongst other ideas,  the  Sufi  philosophy  of  spiritual  and  intellectual  resources  and  the  great  texts  of Western thought.

Thursday June 9th Batha Museum – 4.00 pm

Ensemble baroque “Il Concerto di Arianna” – Italy Musical performance of Alessandro Stradella, Alessandro Scarlatti and Antonio Vivaldi The  illustrious  Roman  Ducci  Foundation,  which  works  for  peace  and  dialogue  between  cultures,  offers  a  repertoire  focused  on  sacred  music  under  the  direction  of  the  great conductor Marcello Panni.

Bab Al Makina – 8.30 pm Youssou N’Dour and the Super Star of Dakar ‐ Senegal Tribute to Sheikh Sidi Ahmed al‐Tijani Youssou N’dour, a true icon of West African music, has not forgotten his spiritual roots. In front  of  the  symbolic  door  of  Fez  he  will  pay  tribute  to  the  great  master  of  the Brotherhood  Tijaniyya,  founded  around  1780  by  Ahmad  al‐Tijani.  Ahmad  al‐Tijani’s mausoleum  ‐  a  place  of  pilgrimage  for  the  worldwide  Tijani  brotherhood  ‐  is  in  Blida,  in the heart of Fez Medina.

Doudou Ndiaye Rose Fes Festival 2011 Performer

Friday June 10th Batha Museum – 4.00 pm

Creation Doudou Ndiaye Rose and his sabar drum ensemble With the choir of St Joseph Medina led by Ambouras ‐ Senegal The  sabar  drums  of  Doudou  Ndiaye  Rose  and  his  sons,  give  a  new  dimension  to  this polyrhythmic percussion and chorus, which is animated by the spiritual conviction to own the  soul  of  Africa.  This  also  occurs  when  Muslim  and  Christian  traditions  are  absorbed  by the traditional culture of the Fefer community.

Bab Al Makina – 8.30 pm Farid Ayyaz & Party and the great voices of moroccan samâ, accompanied by the Arab‐ Andalusian Orchestra of Fez, led by Mohammed Briouel ‐ Pakistan and Morocco The expression qaûl in Sufi speech, becomes qawwalî in Indo‐Pakistani music and meets the Arab‐Andalusian al‐âla tradition from Fes and the vocal art of samâ. In  a  common  spirit  of  poetic  recitation,  with  the  same  rhythmic  frenzy  and  equal  wealth of  ornamentation,  the  powerful  vocals  of  qawwalî  by  Farid  Ayyaz  intersect  with  those  of samâ and their voices fill the sky with chanting.

Saturday June 11th Batha Museum – 4.00 pm

Syubbanul Akhyar Esemble ‐ Java, Indonesia Songs and music Hajir Marawi of Cirebon The first centuries of Islamization in Southeast Asia coincided with the heyday of medieval Sufism and developed around the 12th and 13th centuries, during which time the Sufi brotherhood tarîqat emerged. In Indonesia, Yemeni Arab traders from the Hadramout Valley were among the first to transmit a true and popular Sufism. The  musical  style  hajir  marawis,  legacy  of  the  Yemeni  Sufi  culture,  refers  to  a  set  of  hajir percussion  drums  (double  membrane)  and  marawis  (small  tambourines)  to  which  are added the oud, lute and Yemeni gambus.

Bab Al Makina – 8.30 pm Kazem El Saher and Asma Lmnawar, with the artistic collaboration of Aziz Lachhab ‐ Iraq and Morocco Kazem  El  Saher,  a  prestigious  and  big‐hearted  Arabic  singer,  will  be  in  Fez  alongside  the singer  Asma  Lmnawar  from  Casablanca,  with  whom  he  recently  collaborated  to  create  a masterpiece.  This  largely  spiritual  concert  is  being  shown  for  the  first  time  in  a  repertoire especially created for, and dedicated to, Fez.

Sunday June 12th Bab Al Makina – 8.30 pm

Ben Harper ‐ USA Ben Harper expresses the roots of an America that, through its nomadic troubadours and minstrels, has brought the essence of spirituality from memories of a lost Arica, through the struggles of slavery and the hopes of the early settlers.

FES FORUM: “Giving a Soul to Globalization” 4th‐ 8th June 2011

Batha Museum – 9 am to 12 noon 2011  Forum  Theme: Dialogue  about  wisdom:  inspired  by  Farid  al‐Din  Attar’s  The

Conference of the Birds – “The  problems  we  face  cannot  be  solved  with  the  same  level  of  thinking  we  used  when we created them.” Albert Einstein Since  the  fall  of  the  Berlin  Wall,  surely  we  agree  that  the  world’s  fate  no  longer  depends on  a  balance  of  power  that  sees  mounting  tensions  between  a  western  culture dominated  by  reason,  creativity,  and  technology  and  other  cultures  driven  by  new, irrational, and dogmatic ideologies that draw solely on identity or religious affiliation? Not  to  deny  these  tensions,  we  must  understand  that  what  is  happening  is  far  more complex and deeply rooted. Whether  our  resources  draw  on  ancient  or  new  philosophies,  from  the  North  or  South, East  or  West  is  not  what  matters.  What  is  essential  is  that,  by  virtue  of  their  encounter, they  can  nourish  our  relationship  with  the  world.  The  impact  of  this  encounter  makes possible the emergence not simply of a plethora of ideas ‐ regardless of cultural relativis  but  a  genuinely  unknown  relationship  among  cultures;  a  genuine  diversity  tha challenges  and  enriches  thought,  concepts  of  society,  and  our  ideas  of  who  we  are  and can be. Thus the Persian mystic poet of the 13th century, Attar, in his The Conference of the Birds, recounted  how  the  birds,  through  an  intensive  dialogue,  were  able  to  discover  the  true significance of their existence and of their common destiny.

Faouzi Skali – The  Fes  Forum,  whose  overarching  theme  is  “Giving  A  Soul  To  Globalization”  will  address  topics  ranging  from  “Islam  and  the  West”  :  towards  a  new  civilization,”  “New horizons for the Maghreb», «What future lies ahead for the Middle East?, “The roots of the financial crisis”, “Contemporary  dilemmas”, and more…Leading figures who will attend include:  Rajmohan  Gandhi,  Katherine  Marshall,  Salamatou  Sow,  Edgar  Morin,  Majid  Rahnema,  Wim Wenders, Leila Shahid,  André Azoulay, Karen Amstrong, Bariza Khiari, Jacques Attali, Siddhartha,  Yann  Arthus‐Bertrand,  Michel  Thao  Chan,  Michael  Barry,  Leili  Anvar,  Katia  Légeret, Mohamed Valsan, Assia Alaoui Bensalah, Marie Miran‐Guyon, Mohamed Ghalmi,  Kamal  Oudghiri,  Xavier‐Simon  Guerrand‐Hermes,  Xavier  de Catheu,  Patrick  Busquet, Henri  Joyeux,  Patrick  Viveret,  Jean‐Claude  Carrière,  Amal  Arfaoui,  Saad  Khiari,  Nahal  Tajddod,  Abd  Al  Malik,  ,  Setsuko  Klossowska  de  Rola,  Adel  Rifaat,    Bahgat  Elnadi,  Joseph  Mail,  Zeyba Rahman, Gunnar Stalsett and more.

Festival in the City – Everyday- Place Boujloud at 6.30 pm – Dar Tazi at 11.00 pm

For more information about Travel and Tours to Morocco plus highlights on Moroccan culture visit Morocco’s Imperial CitiesSeaside Resorts,Sahara DesertBerber villagesA Taste of MoroccoMagical Kasbahs, Ruins & WaterfallsAbsolute Morocco, The Best of MarrakechFes, and Ouarzazate

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration

Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel.We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or 1 (917)703-2078 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

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