Posts Tagged ‘Morocco Festivals’

19th Annual Gnaoua Music Festival May 12th – 15th, 2016

Friday, April 22nd, 2016
Gnaoua Festival 19th Annual Program

Gnaoua Festival 19th Annual Program









Morocco announces the 19th Gnaoua Festival which will take place in the Coastal town of Essaouira from May 12th – 15th, 2016. This annual festival will feature artists from around the world along with Gnaoua Maalem greats. The Gnaoua Festival is sponsored by Maroc Telecom, Sidi Ali, Bankque Populaire, Oulmes and several other Moroccan companies. The Gnaoua Festival is the voice of a tradition, memory and music. Nineteen years ago, a team of local Souri’s started an event, 100% Moroccan which enabled the Gnaoua Maalems to usher in a new chapter of their life.

Maalem Mahmoud Guinea

Maalem Mahmoud Guinea









Once called, Mogador and the Port of Timbuktu, Essaouira continues to host this annual fetival that has received international acclaim. The unique combination of International stars, Jazz greats and traditional Gnaouas makes it one of a kind. Tributes to this years annual festival will be made to Maalem Mahmoud Guinea and the great Doudou Ndiaye Rose, magician of the Senegalese drum. Mahmoud Guinia was a Moroccan Gnawa musician, singer and guembri player, who was traditionally regarded as a Maâllem, i.e. master.

Doudou Ndiaye Rose

Doudou Ndiaye Rose











Doudou Ndiaye Rose was a Senegalese drummer, composer and band leader, and was the recognized modern master of Senegal’s traditional drum, the sabar. He recorded for both domestic and foreign labels, and collaborated with numerous western musicians.

There will be a combination of residences, early evening and late night Concerts along with conference style meet ups, all Gnaoua and Souri style.

Below is an up close view at the 19th Annual Gnaoua Festival’s line up and artist program.

Artist Line Up – Essaouira 19th Gnaoua Festival

From the USA:
Randy Weston: Africa
Jamaaladeen Tacuma: Groove
Christian Scott: Hewho youth to jazz
Jeff Ballard Trio
Blitz The Ambassador
Hassan Hakmoun: International Gnaoui

Las Migas: Flamenco witha female fusion tone
Jaba & Friends: Roots & reggae

Hoba Hoba Spirit: The Moroccan music phenomenon event!
Mohamed Derham
N3rdistan: Rock, rap and Arabic poetry!
Songhoy Blues:the quiet force of Timbuktu
DoudouN’diaye Rose family:Tribute to mathematician of the Drum!
Mehdi Nassouli: The Hajhouj conquering the world
RachidaTalal,The pearl of the South
Oudaden, rebirth of Amazigh music
3ADA Swiria
Issaoua of Fez

Festival Stars from MOROCCO
Festival stars: Maalemsfrom all over Morocco
(Casablanca, Marrakech, Essaouira, Meknes, Rabat, Ksar El Kebir)
MAALEM HAMID EL KASRI: The Santana of the Gnaouis
MAALEM ABDELLAH AKHARRAZ: Worthy successor of the Guinea heritage
MAALEM ABDESSLAM ALIKANE: Themaalem of maalems
MAALEM OMAR HAYAT: For love of Reggae
MAALEM ABDELKEBIR MERCHANE, The Gnaoui with silver hands
MAALEM MOHAMED KOUYOU, The most American of maalems!
MAALEM MAHJOUB KHELMOUS, The magician of the guembri
MAALEM MOKHTAR GUINEA:Tagnaouite running in his blood
MAALEM SAID OUGHESSAL:A Hispanic breeze blowing on Gnaoua
MAALEM SEDDIK BOUNHAR:The passionate Gnaoui who has travelled the world
MAALEM AHMED BAQBOU: The gnaoui prince of the ochre-colored city
MAALEM Said BOULHIMAS: Maalemin spite of himself
MAALEM SAID BOURKI: Faithful to tradition

The Official Festival Program – Essaouira 19th Gnaoua Festival

May 12th, 2016
Place: Place Moulay Hassan
Time: 8:30pm – Opening Concert
Artist Line Up: Doudou N’Diaye Rose Percussions Orchestra and Enfants Guinea and Rachida Talal

Time: 9:35pm – Concert
Place: Place Moulay Hassan
Artist Line Up: Jeff Ballard Trio

Time: 10:45pm – Concert Fusion
Place: Place Moulay Hassan
Artist Line Up: Jeff Ballard Trio and Maalem Mohamed Kouyou

May 13th, 2016
Place: Zaouia Disna Bilal
Artist Line Up: Maalem Allal et Najib Soudani and Maalem Said Boulhimas and Maalem Said El Bourki

Time: 11:00pm
Place: Dar Loubane
Artist Line Up: Anciens Gnaoua

Time: 12:00am
Place: Dar Loubane
Artist Line Up: Maalem Seddik Bounhar

Time: 12:05am – Residence
Place: Dar Loubane
Artist Line Up: Songhoy Blues and Maalem Abdeslam Alikane

May 14th, 2016
Time: 8:00pm
Place: Place Moulay Hassan
Artist: Maalem Abdellah Akharaz

Time: 8:05pm
Place: Place Moulay Hassan
Artist: Movie Projection – Maalem Mahmoud Guinea

Time: 9:15pm
Place: Place Moulay Hassan
Artist: La Releve Gnaoua and Musiciens de Doudou N’Diaye Rose

Time: 10:40pm
Place: Place Moulay Hassan
Artist: Christian Scott

Time: 12:00pm
Place: Place Moulay Hassan
Artist: Maalem Hamid El Kasri

Time: 11:00pm
Place: Dar Loubane
Arist: Maalem Abdenbi El Meknassi

Time: 12:00pm
Place: Dar Loubane
Artist: Maalem Rachid El Hamzaoui

Time: 8:30pm
Place: Scene de la Plage
Arist: Khalid Amrhoche, Khalid Lzoubaz, La Releve Gnaoua, Mohamed Bomzor

Time: 9:35pm
Place: Scene de la Plage
Artist: Songhoy Blues

Time: 11:30pm
Place: Scene de la Plage
Arist: N3Rdistan

Time: 11:50pm
Place: Scene de la Plage
Artist: Maalem Mustapha Baqbou

Time: 11:00pm
Place: Borj Bab Marrakech
Artist: Maalem Abdenbi El Guedari

Time: 11:00pm
Place: Zaouia Issaoua
Place: Tarifa de Safi

Time: 12:00am
Place: Zaouia Issaoua
Artist: Maalem Mahjoub Khalmouss

May 15th, 2016
Time: 5:00pm
Place: Place Moulay Hassan
Artist: Oudaden

Time: 6:00pm
Place: Place Moulay Hassan
Artist: Maalem Mustapah Baqubou, Mohamed Derham, Nabil Khalidi, Omar Sayed


For more information about Essaouira or the Gnaoua Festival

Morocco’s Imperial Cities, Seaside Resorts,Sahara Desert,Berber villages, A Taste of Morocco, Magical Kasbahs, Ruins & Waterfalls, Absolute Morocco, The Best of Marrakech, Fes, 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.

Springtime in Morocco, Your Morocco Tour Guide

Sunday, January 11th, 2015
Valley of Roses Festival Morocco, Springtime

Valley of Roses Festival Morocco, Springtime

In the depths of winter, once the end-of-year festivities are over, is a great time to plan a spring break. Just dreaming of longer, sunnier days makes the winter fade and the spring seem closer. And where better to travel in spring than Morocco? You will find agreeable temperatures, trees in full bloom after the rains of winter and a range of activities and festivals in Morocco to give you a deeper insight into the natural and cultural diversity of this fascinating country.

Unless you wish to undertake specific activities which are dependent on the climate, the spring (March-May) and Autumn (September-October) are the best times to visit Morocco. This way, you will avoid the rain and chills of the winter and the searing heat of the interior and desert of the summer. For example, in Marrakech in Spring, the temperature is around 18-27°C (64-85°F) and in the evenings a light sweater is usually sufficient.

Marrakech is a great starting point for a spring tour of Morocco. Once you have explored the sights and souks of this former imperial city, you can head into the Atlas Mountains, to the west. The mountainsides of the High Atlas and (further north) Middle Atlas ranges are Morocco’s fruit bowl. Depending on the location and when in spring you travel, you can trek, climb and ride on horseback among the beautiful blossom of apple, walnut, almond or cherry trees. A popular day trip destination is the Ourika Valley, where you can enjoy lunch in the valley base beside the babbling Ourika River and hike up through a series of waterfalls. More experienced trekkers will find spring an ideal time to ascend Mount Toubkal, North Africa’s highest peak at 4,167 m (13,671 ft) and will still find a little snow at the top!

A longer tour might take you towards the spectacular Tiz-n-Test pass as you head south towards the Souss Valley and Anti Atlas region. As you travel out of Marrakech, you will pass many plantations of conifers and fruit trees. The area around Ouirgane is stunning at this time of year and hikes in the hills and valleys can easily be combined with a visit to the historic Tin Mal mosque – built in 1154 and one of only 2 mosques in Morocco open to non-Muslims. Despite its isolated location, Tin Mal was the cradle of the Berber Almohad empire.

If you travel to Morocco in May, we recommend you take in the Rose Festival in Kelaa M’Gouna. Dedicated to the famous roses of this area in the spectacular Dades Valley, this festival also celebrates local rural life and all the derivatives of rose you could ever imagine, including cosmetic products and the delicate rose water present in most Moroccan pastries and cakes. Your trip in this region could also take in kayaking or canyoning the rivers full of snowmelt, a night in an ancient fort along the ‘Route of 1000 Kasbahs’ or a trip into the Sahara Desert when the days are balmy and the nights clear and starry. You shouldn’t miss the opportunity to see a Saharan sunrise or ride a camel over the dunes!

Festival Printemps des Alizés Festival 14th Edition, Springtime

Festival Printemps des Alizés Festival 14th Edition, Springtime

Spring is also a good time to visit Morocco’s Atlantic Coast. In Agadir, temperatures are already summery, providing for days of golfing, swimming and watersports. To the south in the Souss-Massa National Park, spring is a great time to see native nesting bird species and bid farewell as migratory birds head north. Further up the coast in Essaouira, the trade winds start to pick up in spring, bringing fresh fish to the dockside. Essaouira is also the venue for the Festival Printemps des Alizés – a classical music festival held to coincide with the main moussem season (period of festivities and pilgrimages to honour local Muslim and Jewish saints) in April/May. If you are lucky, your trip might coincide with a display of Arab horsemen, known as a fantasia. At these events, teams compete to charge their horses and fire their rifles in unison. It is a unique event not to be missed if you are in Essaouira Province in spring!

Springtime is a great time to visit Morocco. From Marrakech, you will see snow-tipped mountains while sitting in a climate like a Northern European or North American summer. The opportunities to explore Morocco’s countryside – the mountains, desert and coast – are unparalleled at this time of year and a range of festivals also offer an insight into Moroccan culture.

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 Best Time to Travel Morocco

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.

The Tissa Horse Festival, Your Morocco Guide

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

Tissa Horse Festival, Fes

During the year, the small town of Tissa,on the edge of the Rif region, in the province of Taounate, is a quiet rural community, tucked away in the hills of the Moroccan countryside, fifty kilometers away from Fez. From 8-13 October 2013, the town will be transformed, as it is each year, in to one of the premier horse festivals in Morocco.

The culture and tradition of horses and horsemanship is deeply rooted and widespread in Morocco. The Fantasia or Tborida are contested by competing teams dressed in colorful traditional gandouras and djellabas, charging the full length a field only pulling up at the last minute whilst firing their djezail flintlocks with a thunderous explosion. The Tborida teams led by a ma’alem, or teacher,form up Into a single line and at the signal begin the charge. In the closing stages they must rotate their djezails with one arm at full gallop before pulling up and firing.

They are assessed by the judges for horsemanship, maintaining their line during the charge and successfully pulling up at the end. The horses are trained to do this, but even so, riding at full gallop with the reins in one hand and the djezail in the other is an impressive feat of horsemanship. Very rarely a horse may run on after the halt. To stand in front of the charge even though it is behind a barrier is to sense something of the fear these riders inspired in the enemy. The firing of the djezails is very loud and the smoke billows in the air,along with the occasional wad from one of the djezails dropping to earth.

The French Romantic painte, Eugène Delacroix, immortalized the Moroccan tribal horseman riding into battle following his first visit to North Africa in the 1830’s and the son of the Pasha of Marrakech, Hassan El Glaoui, famous for his paintings of Moroccan riders and horses once remarked that his father who died in 1956, went to war on horseback.

The large tent city erected for the festival also provides traditional music and dancing as well as displaying artifacts, ceramics and jewelry and providing food and drink. The festival is an important event for the local economy and has been held in Tissa since medieval times. It coincides with the mouassem of a local saint, Sidi Muhammad ben Lahcen who lived in the 15th century.

Like all good horse shows the different breeds of horses are the subject of close attention; pure bred Arabian stallions, Barbary mares and Arab-Berber horses are bought and sold. To bring the Horse Festival of Tissa to a close, there is a huge parade in the stadium. The international horse show at El Jadida under the patronage of King Mohammed VI has done much to reintroduce the Barb horse , which has great strength and endurance , back into international breeding circles.

Tissa has a great reputation as a horse show with a fair, sometimes a circus, a huge bazaar, and finally the official folklore of the region “Hayti”. It is visited by 4,000 spectators each year and is a great opportunity to enjoy an important regional event and mix with the locals and Moroccans who have brought their horses from all over the country. Moroccans living abroad in France, Spain and Italy also participate in festivals such as Tissa.
Tissa was garrisoned by the French during the protectorate because it was on the way to Fes and has an upper Tissa on the hill with a church and other buildings and lower Tissa lies at the bottom of the hill.

For More Information about a Marrakech Riads or a Marrakech Tour

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.

The Guelmim Camel Festival, Your Morocco Travel Guide

Sunday, June 23rd, 2013

Guelmim Camel Festival

Guelmim, famous for its blue people and as the gateway to the Sahara is in the South west of  Morocco. It is the capital of the Guelmim-Es Semara region which includes Southern Morocco (south of the Souss-Massa-Draa region) and northern Western Sahara. It can be reached easily by road from Agadir.

It’s  a walled town with houses built of red clay and is encircled by date palm groves. It was a  camel caravan trading centre linked to Timbuktu in ancient times and in the 19th century, and it remains a commercial gateway to Mauritania.

Guelmim is home to the biggest camel market in Morocco which is held every Saturday at daybreak. Nomadic camel herders are still common.

Guelmim Camel Festival July

There are a number of tribes at the event including the Regeibat , Aït-Moussa-Ali, Aitoussa, Azwafits, Aït-Yassin, Aït-Lahcen, Aït-Baamran,Sbouya. The “Blue Men of the Desert”  or  Tuareg are so called because they wear indigo colored robes and a long blue scarf or tagilmust they use to swathe their heads and faces. The indigo is pounded, instead of boiled, into the cloth. There are also, of course, people pretending to be blue men to attract tourists.

As well as the weekly Camel Fair, the people of Guelmim hold an annual Camel Festival  every July. The festival is more of a tourist attraction than an actual market, due mainly to the decline in camel transport and the rise in 4x4s. The festival  offers the opportunity to witness the ancient dance ritual known as the Guedra, which is associated with Guelmim. The dance is performed by a woman to the beat of a drum made from a kitchen pot (guedra) and the chanting and clapping of onlookers. The dance often induces a hypnotic state. There is a festive atmosphere and meshwi, a whole roasted lamb, is cooked.

 When in Guelmim, a good place to visit is Fort Bou Jerif, which is the remains of a Foreign Legion fort. This  is located in miles of undulating hills and sandy shrubbery, halfway between Guelmim and the Atlantic coast.

 It can only be reached by tracks and a tour guide with a 4×4 is essential and should be arranged beforehand. As if from nowhere, the Fort will appear, with lovely looking buildings, including a hotel, a motel, a restaurant, a shop, and a camping site.

A short drive away is Plage Blanche, a large and virgin  sandy beach. An alternate  location to visit is at the former Spanish enclave of Sidi Ifni, it has an excellent beach and art deco buildings. Taghazout which is being developed as a major tourist resort is on the road back to Agadir.

For More Information on Guelmim Camel Festival & Sahara Travel 

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, Music Celebrations and Culture Festivals, Morocco Tours

Friday, January 25th, 2013

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. There are hundreds of local festivals and mouassems in Morocco. The dates when Morocco Festivals and moussems are someimes decided by religious authorites consulting the moon so dates oftheseevents are sometimes not announced very far ahead . Here are some of the more well known ones with exact dates in 2013, where available.

January Morocco Festivals


Marrakech International Marathon 2013 – Marrakech Tensift El Haouz ,Sunday, 27 January 2013

Departing from the Avenue de la Menara behind the Sofitel Hotel, the Marrakech International Marathon covers a distance of 42.195 kms (or 21.097 kms for half-marathon) the route winds its way through some of the city’s most picturesque attractions.

February Morocco Festivals

The Almond Blossom Festival

This beautiful spectacle takes place in Tafraoute where the trees  are in full blossom for only a short time and whose colours greatly admired. The festival includes singing, dancing and other performances by the locals.

March Morocco Festivals

International Magic Festival at Marrakech 19-22 March 2013

The annual magic festival is held in Marrakech and has several performances by both international magicians and up and coming local artists. The festival has performances  at the Royal Theatre in Marrakech and there is plenty of magic being

performed on the streets  as well.

April Morocco Festivals

The Sand Marathon

The Sand Marathon is an incredibly gruelling marathon that covers 150 miles and lasts for 11 days. The marathon takes place in Ouarzazate, usually towards the beginning of April.

Grand Prix Hassan II

This popular motor racing  event attracts some the very best players on the ATP World Tour and takes place at the Complexe Al Amal in Casablanca… more about the Grand Prix Hassan II

May Morocco Festivals

The  Mawazine Festival 24 May – 1 June 2013.

This modern festival takes place in the city of Rabat and has several artists performing concerts that range from top international performers to local artists, past performing stars include Elton John and Sting. Also on offer are art exhibitions and plenty of street entertainers to keep the huge crowds entertained.

Marrakech Grand Prix . This event has been revived and takes place in Marrakech 13-15 April 2013.

Desert Music Festival

The Desert music Festival offers an outstanding selection of music genres that ranges from traditional Moroccan music to music from international musicians from around the world. The event takes place annually in Errachidia.

Festival of  the Roses in the Dades Valley in mid May, a small oasis town called Kelaa-des-Mgouna is home to Morocco’s largest rose water distillery plant. The entire town is fragrant and the spectacular harvest in May is celebrated with song and dance.

June Morocco Festivals


Fes Sacred Music Festival Saturday, 7 – 15  June 2013.

The festival offers a wide range of traditional music performed by both Moroccan musicians and those from around the world.

Under the theme of “Fes: Reflections of Andalusia, the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music” is one of the premier events presented by the Spirit of Fes Foundation. The stated goal of the Festival is to harness the power of the arts and spirituality to promote human and social development, and the relationships between peoples and varying cultures.

Essaouira Gnawa and World Music Festival ,Essaouira  20-23 June 2013.

This music festival based on the traditions of Gnawa music has grown to include musicians from all over the world. This successful annual festival has been around for a decade and venues are dotted all around the picturesque town of Essaouira.

The origins Gnawa music  lie in a unique mixture of Berber, African and Arabic songs, religious rites and dance and was originally the music of African slaves.

July Morocco Festivals


The 48th Marrakech Popular Arts Festival (FNAP)

The festival features traditional Berber music, singing  dancing, story tellers and entertainers and takes place in the vibrant and bustling city of Marrakech. A full stage showof different regional tribal  dancing expertly chereographed  led by Maawalems takes place in the floodlit  Badi Palace with other concerts and peformances taking place in other locations in the city.

August Morocco Festivals

Imilchil Marriage Festival August/September

This unique event is steeped in tradition and takes place in the village of Imichil close to Marrakech. The event provides local Berbers the opportunity to meet and agree to marry, with everyone wearing traditional dress along with plenty of music and dancing. Exact date for 2013 not yet announced.

Festival of Fantasia

The Festival of Fantasia or Tbourida involves traditionally dressed berber riders and their mounts charging with flintlocks which  they fire with a thunderous roar at the end of the charge. It takes place in Meknes usually towards the beginning of the month, and offers participants the chance to show off their horses, riding ability and timing.

September Morocco Festivals

Imilchil is located high up in the lake plateau of the Middle Atlas Mountains inMorocco. 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 AïtBouguemmaz 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.

October Morocco Festivals

2-3 October El Jadida Horse Show. This is  major  international event including horse jumping,dressage and fantasia.

Tissa Horse Festival

The Tissa Horse Festival is held near Fes and provides the opportunity for hundreds of riders to compete against each other and show off their beautiful mounts and skills as horsemen.

Erfoud Date Festival Late September/ early October.

More than a million date palms are grown in the Erfoud region and after harvest, the party really starts. Local tribesmen come together for a 3 day festival dedicated to the sticky and delicious date. Berber tents play host to traditional dancing, food and music. There’s also a dromedary race

November Morocco Festivals

Tan Tan Moussem

This is a traditional festival gathering, of nomadic tribal members who come together in celebration of their culture and religion. The event takes place towards the end of November or beginning of December in the town of Tan Tan, to the south of Morocco.

Eid Al Adha Festival

During this annual festival, the Prophet Abraham is honoured with the sacrifice of a ram, goat or cow.

December Morocco Festivals

Casablanca International Art Fair

The art fair offers a huge selection of art forms such as sculptures and photography as well as workshops to participate in. The event takes place in the Exchange Office in Casablanca usually at the beginning of the month

For More Information About Morocco Tours and Morocco Festivals 
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.

Morocco Festivals, Fes Festival of World Sacred Music, Fes Festival, World Sacred Music Festival, World Music Festival Fes, Sacred Music Festival Fes, Gnaoua Festival, Gnawa Festival, El Kellat Des Mgouna Rose Festival, Valley of Roses Festival, Ramadan, Ramadan holy holiday, Fantasia, Fantasia Horse Festival Meknes, Imilchil Marriage Festival, International Film Festival of Marrakech, Marrakesh Film Festival, Timitir Festival, Agadir, Sufi Festival, Suf Festival Fes,  Morocco Holidays, Morocco Travel, Travel Exploration, Travel to Morocco

Travel Exploration Morocco Travel Excursions & Tours 2010, Your Morocco Travel Guide

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

Let 2010 be the year you choose to Travel to Morocco! Morocco is a cold country with a hot sun and offers a wide array of exciting travel opportunities. Travel Exploration Morocco’s Excursions and tour include the great Sahara Desert which stands alone offering a majestic beauty that is second to none. The Sahara Desert’s dunes make way for camel treks and 4×4 exploration. Foreigners from abroad come to Morocco to enjoy sunset camel treks to an Oasis where they can have an overnight stay in a traditional bivouac tent in the Sahara Desert, sleep under the stars and explore the Sahara’s unique flora and fauna. The Sahara Desert’s mélange of Berber, Arab (Sahrawi) and Tuareg people give it immense character.


Moroccan travelers who visit the Sahara can pay homage to its history by visiting Saharan Desert towns such as Merzouga, M’hamid, Rissani, Erfoud, the capital of Fossils, and Zagora. The Sahara Desert region continues to produce some of Morocco’s most original silver jewelry, amber and trade beads, handmade wooden items such as mirrors and boxes that have an overlay of animal skin or leather that are painted by the Tuareg people. Sahara artists also produce a stunning array of Berber and Tuareg silver crosses that are indigenous to the Sahara Desert Zagora region.


There is also a rich heritage of weaving traditions in Morocco. The Berber and Tuareg weaving techniques are unique to Southern Morocco and when visiting Morocco for a travel and exploration adventure, make sure to seek out local villages and carpet shops recommended by Travel Exploration in Southern Morocco. The Ouarzazate and Zagora region offer unlimited shopping opportunities for Berber carpets that can be purchased at a reasonable price; with a portion of the proceeds given to local Berber villages.


Other Morocco Tours for the adventure traveler include trekking in the Atlas Mountains of Jbbel Toukbal or spending a week in Morocco to discover Morocco’s Imperial Cities such of Casablanca, Rabat, Marrakech, Fes, Meknes, the holy city of Moulay Idriss and the Ancient Roman Ruins of Volubilis.

When taking a Morocco Tour to the Imperial cities, it is important to explore Morocco’s old medinas’ (cities), Morocco’s historical monuments, palaces and mosques plus its lush gardens. La Mammounia Hotel & Garden, Le Koutoubia Mosque and Le Koutoubia Garden, the Majorelle Gardens and the Menara Gardens are just a few located in Marrakech that will enable travelers to Morocco to engage in the natural surroundings this unique, modern and moderate Muslim country offers.


When visiting Morocco for a travel and exploration opportunity, don’t miss out on the exploration of Moroccan cuisine for a taste of Morocco and Moroccan music festivals. Morocco’s red hamra city of Marrakech has paved the way for a new style of Moroccan cuisine. Marrakech boasts the hottest restaurants that serve up an mélange of French, Moroccan flavors alongside the trendiest International imported food chains that enable foreign travelers to Morocco and locals to eat sushi, pizza and hamburgers.

Morocco’s music festivals and local mousseums are another travel and exploration opportunity. There are over 50 annual mousseums and music festivals held annually in Morocco. Each mousseum and music festival has a different meaning, theme, and musical repertoire that make them an attractive option for a Morocco Tour.

Imilchil-Wedding Festival

For singles or independent travelers who wish to explore Morocco alone, Travel Exploration Morocco offers specialized tours lead by an English speaking driver and guide for reasonable prices. Travel Exploration Morocco also offers the option of customized, private Morocco group tours. Travel Exploration Morocco Travel guarantees you will discover the best of Morocco while having an up-close, authentic experience with Moroccan people.



M’hamid Sahara – A Morocco excursion from Marrakech that includes a sunset camel trek to the Erg Chegga M’hamid Dunes and visit of Zagora

Merzouga Sahara Desert – An excursion from Marrakech that includes a sunset camel trek over the Erg Chebbi Dunes and sleeping by an Oasis

Zagora Dunes of Tinfo – An excursion from Marrakech that includes visiting Tamagroute, Spiritual Zaouira, Koranic Library and Dunes of Tinfo


M’hamid Sahara – A Morocco excursion from Ouarzazate that includes a sunset camel trek to the Erg Chegga M’hamid Dunes and visit of Zagora

Merzouga Sahara  Desert – An excursion from Ouarzazate that includes a sunset camel trek over the Erg Chebbi Dunes and sleeping by an Oasis

Zagora Dunes of Tinfo – An excursion from Marrakech that includes visiting Tamagroute, Spiritual Zaouira, Koranic Library and Dunes of Tinfo



Ait Benhaddou – UNESCO World Heritage Site

Oasis of Fint – An Oasis Just 20 Minutes from Ouarzazate

Mount Mgoun & Bouthgrar – Valley of Nomads

Dades Valley – Dades Pins and windy roads

Todra Gorge – A spectacle of immense colored rock

Skoura – A Palmary With One thousand Kasbahs




Ancient Kasbahs & Waterfalls – Visit Ait Benhaddou, Kasbah Taouirirt, Kasbah Amerdihl, the Cascades D’Ouzoue, Oum er Rbia

High Atlas Trekking Jbel Toukbal – Journey to Imlil and Trek to Jbel Toukbal, Overnight in Berber villages, and Summit at sunrise

Magical Sahara Desert – Discover the Sahara Desert on a one-week journey that takes you to Southern Morocco’s Sahara towns and a camel trek

Berber Village Discovery – A week with the Berbers – Discover how the indigenous people of Morocco live in ancient Kasbahs in a community

Discover Ouarzazate – The best of Ouarzazate, this Morocco tour offers a true Southern Morocco trip of this region



Pottery & Zellij Design Tour – A journey into the world of Marrakech, Fes and Zaogra’s Pottery and Zellij tile making traditions

Cuisine Tours – The Hottest cuisine and Moroccan food from fresh market souk, straight to your plate. Learn how to cook Moroccan style



Fes Festival of Sacred Music Tour – The 16th Edition of this famous Sacred World Music Celebration and VIP passes plus front stage seats

The Gnaoua Festival of World Music Tour – Spend your holiday seaside, exploring Portuguese Ramparts in Essaouira and the Gnaoua Festival

Sufi Festival – An ancient tradition of Sufi Music celebrated in Fes, a UNESCO World Heritage site each year, trance-like music Sufi-style



Aid Al Adha / A’d el-Khebir – Commemoration of Abrahams sacrifice
Imilchil Marriage Festival– A Marriage Festival held in the Atlas Mountains

Meknes Equestrian Mousseum – A traditional Fantasia Equestrian Horse Extravaganza
El Kella des Mgouna – Valley of Roses, A Rose festival celebrated each year where the Ms. Roses is chosen

Goulimine – A fair for camel traders

Sefrou – A Festival of the cherry harvest
Setti Fatma – The most popular moussem held in the Ourika valley

Moulay Idriss Zerhoun – Moussem of Moulay Idriss, the patron saint of Fes The Date Festival – Held in Erfoudz

Ramadan – Month of fasting where Muslims honor the holy holiday with special foods eaten in the evening and meals after sunset only

Eid al Fitr – End of Ramadan, a celebration of “meat” and the confidence and honor that Ramadan has been fulfilled

For more information about a Travel Exploration Morocco Travel Excursion or Tour for 2010

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.

Travel Exploration Morocco Travel, Travel and Exploration, Morocco Tours, Morocco Travel Excursions, Tours in Morocco, Tours to Morocco, Morocco Adventure Tours, 4×4 Tours Morocco, Morocco Excursions from Ouarzazate, Morocco Excursions from Marrakech, Morocco Music Tours, Morocco Mousseums, Morocco Art Tours, Morocco Food Tours, Morocco Cuisine Tours, Morocco Festivals, Morocco Travel Opportunities, Morocco Travel, Tours to Morocco, Morocco Vacations, Morocco Holidays

Travel to Ouarzazate Morocco & Celebrate the Moroccan Festival Aïd el-Kebir (Aid El Adha), Your Morocco Travel Holiday Guide

Monday, October 5th, 2009

Travel to Ouarzazate Morocco & Celebrate the Moroccan Festival Aïd el-Kebir (Aid El Adha), Your Morocco Travel Holiday Guide

Aïd el-Kebir also referred to as Aid El Adha is the Muslim world’s Festival and the perfect time to travel to Ouarzazate, Morocco. Aïd el-Kebir falls on November 27th, 2009 this year. When traveling on holiday to Morocco the best way to see this vast country of Kasbahs and Kilims is during a festival. Participating Morocco’s festivities and customs will enrich your morocco travel experience and bring you one step closer to the people and places you encounter during your journey. Morocco’s Arab and Berber population celebrate Moroccan holidays during the entire year which lend many morocco travel opportunies for the adventurer in you.

Hossaine- Isho-Skinning-Sheep-Aid-El-Kebir-Ait-Ouzzine
Aïd el-Kebir, Festival of Sacrifice, or Greater Eid, is a Mulim Holiday celebrated worldwide to commerate Ibrahim’s (Abraham’s) sacrifice of his son Ismael as an act of obedience to Allah (Yarbe) God. At the last minute, as Ibrahim (Abraham) was about to consummate the sacrifice, god told him to stop, a lamb (or ram) appeared nearby, and was offered instead. Today a feast is held to commemorate Ibrahim (Abraham) and his faith, with lamb as the central meat. When possible, a lamb is traditionally slaughtered the day of the feast.

Aïd el-Kebir begins with prayer as do most Muslim Moroccan holidays. Aïd el-Kebir traditionally falls on the 10th day of the month within the Islamic Lunar calendar and the festivities last for three days. Aïd el-Kebir also falls 70 days after the end of Ramadan. One of the most important aspects of Aïd el-Kebir is charity. Aïd el-Kebir is a time of sharing when Moroccan families join together to give to the poor. In small Berber villages within the Ouarzazate region such as Ait Ouzzine, Ait Hamou, Agdz and Ait Ourir there are many local festivities that moroccan travelers can experience as part of a Ouarzazate tour. These travel experiences include visiting Ouarzaze’s mystical Ait Benhaddou Kasbah, the Oasis of Fint and Atlas Film Studios, Skoura’s road of one-thousand palms, the Merzouga Sahara Desert, Zagora’s spiritual Zaouia site, visiting Erfoud by pise and foremost spending a day in a traditional Berber villag during Aïd el-Kebir.
Participating in Aïd el-Kebir brings great joy and personal fulfilment especially to moroccan travelers who adopt the Moroccan tradition of charity during Aïd el-Kebir. Moroccan travelers can also discover first hand how Moroccans convey their care to each other.


During Aïd el-Kebir Moroccans Aid (feast) and everyone is expected to dress in their finest cafdan or jalaba to participate in prayer at the mosque or at home. In Morocco’s Berber villages there is a tradition of sacrifice for the meal, typically a sheep, and sometimes camels, cows or goats. They represent Ibrahim’s (Abraham’s) sacrifice.

Alecia-Cohen-At Berber-Wedding-and-Aid-El-Kebir
It is also common for Moroccans to share the meat of the animal that is sacrificed during Aïd el-Kebir with those who are less fortunate. If Aïd el-Kebir does not fall within your vacation time for a Morocco Travel experience, then consider letting us be your Morocco Travel guide to one of the Top 6 Most traveled festivals in Morocco.

Top 6 Most Traveled Festivals in Morocco
Fes Festival of World Sacred Music
Essaouira Gnaoua & World Music Festival
Marrakech Folklore Festival
Valley of Roses, El Kellat Des Mgouna Festival
Imilchil Marriage Festival
Fantasia Festival    
For more information about Aïd el-Kebir and Discover Ouarzaze Tour  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 & Waterfalls, Absolute Morocco, The Best of MarrakechFes, and Ouarzazate.


Aïd el-Kebir Festival, Aid El Adha Festival, Morocco Festivals, Discover Ouarzazate, Discover a Berber Village, Moroccan Festivals, Moroccan Holidays, Travel to Morocco Travel to Morocco for Aïd el-Kebir, Travel to Morocco for Aid El Adha, Travel to Morocco Festival, Morocco Travel, Tours to Morocco, Morocco Vacations, Morocco Holidays


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! Google on call Travel Exploration at   1 (800) 787-8806  or 1 (917)703-2078  and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.