Morocco Tours by Erlebnis Tours Maroc








  
  
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
  
  
  





     

Moroccan Culture

Feasts and Festivals

Moroccans love a celebration! Feasts are organized during all seasons, celebrating various local traditions. Festivals are consecrated to the arts and to the popular traditions. "Moussems" are important gathering to pay homage to saints. Local customs and traditions have compromised with orthodoxy resulting in a wave of hundreds of different festivals throughout the year. Although the veneration of saints is not supported by the orthodox Muslims, the religion is comprised of many different “branches” and these celebrations continue and thrive.

When in Morocco, do not miss the opportunity to have fun. You can admire fantasias, dances, songs, traditional costumes, and you can participate in the processions and taste the wonderful food. As the Muslim calendar is not fixed like the western calendar it is not possible to give specific dates for most of the celebrations until nearer the event. Most religious celebrations vary depending on local conditions (harvest) or on the lunar calendar.

Calendar of Events

January

  • Independence Celebration (one of five different secular independence celebrations throughout the year).

  • More than 5000 international runners take part in the annual Marrakech International Marathon and half marathon on the 31st.

February

  • Tafraoute celebrates the end of the winter rains when there are almond trees covered in small pink and white buds. This Almond Blossom Festival is extravagant and very pretty. It usually takes place in the second week in February (Feb 7th in 2011).
  • Every year on Feb 24th is the 4L Trophy. A student rally with humanitarian purposes, 4L Trophy is a fun challenge that helps in the schooling of thousands of Moroccan children. The event starts in a different European country every year and crosses Morocco before ending in Marrakech for the final ceremony.
  • Aid Al Adha or Aïd el-Khebir is a commemoration feast for Abraham’s Sacrifice. It occurs during the traditional time of pilgrimage to Mecca and is celebrated by both pilgrims travelling to Mecca and those who stay behind at home. Businesses are closed during this celebration, which usually lasts three days.

March/April

  • Fatih Mouharam, the Islamic New Year, is celebrated in March.
  • Beni Mellal holds a Cotton Harvest Moussem.
  • TId Lkbir commemorates the story of God’s redemption for Ibrahim (Abraham) for sacrificing his son. Sheep are sacrificed throughout the country during this period.
  • The day of tithing, Ashura, brings the wealthier Moroccans to give “donations” or “offerings” to those who ask for alms. This holiday has evolved into a sort of children’s holiday where adults offer musical instruments to children.
  • Aid el Arch is the national holiday commemorating the coronation of King Mohammed VI. The whole country participates and there is a very festive ambiance. Festivals include dances, music and shows.
  • Wax Lantern Festival held at Salé (twin to Rabat) is a night time procession with wax lanterns in honour of the patron saint of Salé, the evening before Eid el-Mouloud (anniversary of the birth of the Prophet).

  • During the Mouloud in April, Zagora hosts the annual moussem of the Sufi Saint Moulay Abdelkader Jilali, which is of great importance to the entire Draa Valley.

May

  • In May there is the Mousseum of Sidi Mohammed Ma al-Ainin and this is a great opportunity to see the infamous “blue men of the desert”, nomads from the Sahara, and the large gathering of different tribes selling and trading their regional wares in Guelmim.
  • Labour Day is celebrated May 1.
  • Berkane holds a harvest moussem for clementines.
  • Moulay Bousselham is a Moussem of Sidi Ahmed Ben Mansour.
  • A National Feast is held around the third week of May.
  • The Rose Festival is a yearly festival in El Kelaa M’Gouna near Ouarzazate and is usually in early May.
  • Saint Ben Aissa is celebrated at an annual moussem in Meknes. It is the largest of all the moussems and includes amazing displays of fantasia, glass swallowing, etc.
  • The Prophet Mohammed’s birthday, Id el Mouloud, is a huge national celebration.

June

  • Fez has an annual music festival which lasts for a week and musicians from all over the world come to participate. Tickets must be purchased in advance. Dates for 2011 are 4th to 12th June.
  • Independence Day entails a week long oceanside party in Sidi Ifni. This celebration remembers Independence from the Spanish colonial rule in 1975. Storytellers, merchants, acrobats, musicians, horse cavalcades and dancers perform.
  • Essaouira has their famous Gnaoua Festival that is celebrated annually in June (June 24th in 2011). Musical performances are held throughout the city by local, national and international artists.
  • Moussem of Sidi Mohammed Ma el Ainin at Tan Tan. Includes performances of the Guedra dance.

July

  • South of Marrakesh is the extravagant national festival by the moussem of Moulay Brahim and Sidi Hmed u Moussa in Tazeroualt. These moussems are like rural markets where merchants travel from distant regions in hopes of finding customers for their creations (rugs, blankets, silver and copper kitchenware, homespun wool djellabas and silhams, etc.).
  • Previously known as the National Youth and Music Festival, Marrakech's Sun Festival is now an international event, celebrating youth culture through music and the arts. Taking place 5th July in 2011.
  • Agadir's Timitar Festival (6th to 10th) offers visitors a diverse musical experience, incorporating traditional and contemporary repertoires, from World Music to Hip Hop, from several countries.
  • Marrakech has an annual week-long “Marrakesh Popular Arts Festival” (folklore) and you can see performances by travelling dance troupes and other entertainers coming from all over the country. Dates for 2011 are 11th to 19th July.
  • Fantasia is a horse-riding spectacle that includes hundreds of charging horsemen (and women) wearing traditional clothing. It's part of the Marrakech Popular Arts Festival so it takes place at the same time in July. You can experience the Fantasia in the evenings outside the city walls near the Bab Jdid.

  • Celebration of the Throne is the most important public celebration in Morocco. Festivals include parades and firework displays throughout the country on July 30.
  • Guelmim holds an annual Camel Festival at Tan Tan Road every July (1st in 2011). The festival is still extremely fascinating and offers the opportunity to witness the ancient dance ritual known as the Guedra, which is associated with Guelmim.
  • Moussem of Moulay Abdessalem at Tetouan. A very religious celebration executed in great splendour and ceremony.
  • Sefrou (near Fez) holds the Festival of the Cherry Harvest, a 3-day celebration of music, dance, fairground, fantasia and a colourful souk.
  • Al Hoceima holds the Festival of the Sea Harvest.

August

  • The Asilah Arts Festival is celebrated in this coastal town and is more a less a large exposition for talented artists from all over Morocco as well as abroad. Dates for 2011 are 8th to 11th).
  • The famous Imilchil Brides’ Fair is held every year in the Middle Atlas, Imilchil (near to Marrakech). Traditional costumes are intricately designed and very colourful. The event takes place after harvest every year so the dates vary within August/September; 2011 dates are yet to be confirmed.
  • A local religious festival is held in Setti Fatma in the Ourika Valley (near to Marrakech).
  • Allegiance to Oued Edtahab is usually celebrated on August 14.
  • There is a wonderful Fantasia Festival in El Jadida this month, celebrating the Moussem of Moulay Abdallah.
  • Anniversary of the revolution of the King and the People is celebrated on August 20.
  • Celebration of the Young is celebrated the same day as the birthday of Mohammed VI on August 21.
  • Errachidia becomes a tourist magnet during the annual Desert Music Festival at the end of August.
  • Sefrou holds a Moussem of Sidi Lahcen el Youssi.
  • Tiznit holds a Moussem of Sidi Ahmed ou Moussa.
  • Immouzer du Kandar is a Moussem for harvesting apples and pears.
  • Immouzer des Ida Outanane is a week-long honey moussem.
  • Ramadan is the Islamic month of fasting (foreigners should avoid eating, drinking and smoking in public areas during this time as fasting requires that Muslims abstain from these activities during this time). In 2011, it takes place during August 1st - 29th.
  • The end of Ramadan, Eid al Fitr, is celebrated with street celebrations throughout the country (on August 30th in 2011).

September

  • Marrakech Folk Music Festival (local folk music) is generally held in mid September and there are concerts throughout the city.
  • Visit the Palmeraie Golf Palace during the annual Marrakech International Salsa Festival and learn from the most talented latino and salsa dancers in the world. Watch the shows and join a class to help you dance the night away. Dates for 2011 are 30th Sept to 3rd Oct.
  • Celebration of Moussem of Moulay Idriss II celebrates the patron saint of Fez. A parade crawls through the medina and continues to the saint’s centrally located tomb.
  • Chefchaouen holds a Moussem of Sidi Allal al Hadh.

October

  • The Date Festival is held in the town of Erfoud every October to celebrate the date fruit which is a local delicacy.
  • Amateur artists and collectors flock to Es Saadi's palace during the Marrakech Art Fair on the 9th to browse contemporary collections from Europe and the Arab world. A golf competition between art market players concludes the event.
  • Starting and finishing in Marrakech, the Morocco International Rally covers 2800km over seven days.
  • The picturesque town of Tissa (Fez province) is the site of a Horse Festival, a gigantic competition between the various horse breeds. Hundreds of riders assemble wearing their finery to present their mounts. Prize-giving and festivities create a very animated scene.
  • At the end of October, the Festival of the Atlantic Andalusias in Essaouira celebrates the Andalusian contribution to the cultures of Spain, North Africa and Latin America.

November

  • Around 2000 people participate in the Kasbahs International Half Marathon in Ouarzazate. The route, which must be tackled within two hours, passes the Dades Valley, the Todra gorges, the Kasbahs, sand dunes and Berber villages.
  • Independence Day is celebrated on November 18.
  • Eid al-Adha (day of the sacrifice) marks the end of the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca. In 2011 this takes place on Nov 6th.
  • The small desert town of Tan Tan's Moussem sees thousands of tribal members (Blue Men) come together to celebrate their traditional culture. It is the largest gathering of nomadic tribes in northern Africa.
  • Green March against Spain can stretch into up to 4 days and is nationally celebrated with parades and festivities on November 6.

December

  • Hajj Day is celebrated Dec 31.
  • On Dec 31st, the Zagora Marathon in the desert offers the chance to celebrate the New Year in a healthy way. Runners and walkers of all ages can register for either the full marathon (42.195km) or the half marathon (21km).
  • Rafsaï holds an Olive Harvest Festival. A very pretty festival where one can see the traditional olive-picking ceremony, numerous "Diffa" feasts and folklore events in a surprisingly vast area of olive groves.

Moroccan Weddings

You must attend a Moroccan wedding at least once in your life for a quite unforgettable experience. In terms of beauty and splendour, Moroccan weddings are quite unlike any other. The length of the wedding itself is surprising and the bride can also wear up to seven robes, each of a different colour.

One of the key moments in a wedding is the Henna ceremony. The “Nakkacha”, an artist, draws wonderful floral patterns on the hands and feet of the bride. The “hdia” is another important moment: the groom’s family presents the bride with symbolic gifts such as perfumes, silk or flowers. Moroccan tradition also requires the bride and groom to sit on two large decorated dais that are carried aloft into the ballroom. The ceremony is controlled by “Négafates”, women who are familiar with the customs and who lead the festivities. Such a ceremony is dazzling and countless foreigners come to Morocco to get married.

The famous Imilchil Tribal Marriage Festival is held annually at Imilchil near Marrakech in the High Atlas mountains. Up to 40 couples tie the knot during the one day festival. Traditional costumes are intricately designed and very colourful. The festival is also an excuse for the surrounding Berber tribes to get together and dance, give impromptu musical performances and shop at the massive market.

 

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