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
Celebration (one of five different secular independence celebrations
throughout the year).
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.
Mouharam, the Islamic New Year, is celebrated in March.
holds a Cotton Harvest Moussem.
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
of the birth of the Prophet).
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.
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
Labour Day is
celebrated May 1.
a harvest moussem for clementines.
Moulay Bousselham is a
Moussem of Sidi Ahmed Ben Mansour.
Feast is held around the third week of May.
Festival is a yearly festival in El Kelaa M’Gouna near
Ouarzazate and is usually in early May.
Aissa is celebrated at an annual moussem in Meknes. It is the
largest of all the moussemsand includes amazing displays of fantasia, glass
Mohammed’s birthday, Id el Mouloud, is a huge national celebration.
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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).
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.
religious festival is held in Setti Fatma in the Ourika
Valley (near to Marrakech).
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.
the revolution of the King and the People is celebrated on August
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.
Immouzerdu Kandaris aMoussem for
harvesting apples and pears.
Immouzerdes 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).
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
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.
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.
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 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
Around 2000 people participate in the
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.
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.
against Spain can stretch into up to 4 days and is nationally
celebrated with parades and festivities on November 6.
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.
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.
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.