Festivals and Events.
Popular Arts Festival (from 10 to 15 July /Marrakech):
In the Medina During of the festival; the courtyards are packed with enthusiastic performers and spectators. From the Berber musicians and dancers of the High Atlas to the Andalous-inspired musicians of the North, from the trance-inducing music of the Southern Gnawas to the art of the belly dancer, every element of Moroccan art combines to create a vibrant impression for visitors and locals alike. If a simple visit on the Place Djemaa El-Fnaa has inspired you on a previous trip, imagine the impact this hospitable town can have during its own music festival.
Fez Sacred Music Festival (2 - 10 Jun / Fez):
Artists from around the world come to Morocco's spiritual capital during the annual Fez Sacred Music Festival. The event features performances in a variety of styles, musicians from Europe, Asia to Latin America. There are also concerts on the Bab Boujloud Square, children's educational activities and the famous Sufi nights at Dar Tazi and much more...!
Essaouira Gnaoua, Festival of the world music (22 - 25 Jun/Essaouira):
Essaouira Gnawa music festival is a celebration of the mysterious music of the Gnawas, Essaouira is the ideal resort that most travelers dream of when they think of North Africa: laid-back and yet vibrant, atmospheric and relaxing. The town's status as an independent travelers' favorite makes it the perfect venue for a festival devoted to the feats of the Gnawa. Artists appearing include the best musicians of the genre as well as performers from around the world. The gnawa music is an African magic and Islamic rituals. It is a mesmerizing rhythms of the drums, the gaenbri and dance.
The Marathon Des Sables, The Sand Marathon (7 - 16 Apr / Zagora, Ouarzazate):
It takes place in the Zagora/Merzoug areas, sportsmen and women have to run 240 km of the course over a week. Around 500 competitors from 40 countries take part every year. The race includes a full marathon on one day, and a 50-mile stage, as well as others of differing length and terrain. Competitors must carry all their equipment on their backs. Only a carefully rationed 8 litre of water and open-sided local tents are provided daily by the organizers. Based in the scenic, craggy desert outside Ouarzazate, marathon life centers around the camp in which competitors rest after a day's running. The Sand Marathon is without a doubt one of the most rewarding and intense races in the world.
Rose festival (May / El Kelaa des M'Gouna):
El Kelaa M'Gouna, The Valley of the Roses, acts as Morocco's rose capital, a vast valley producing tons of roses will be transformed to rose-water so popular for cooking and perfumery, the best time to visit is in late May when the rose farmers from the surrounding hills gather to celebrate the year's harvest. A souk springs up along El Kelaa's main street, with plenty of music and dancing to brighten up the proceedings. A Rose Queen is also elected to reign over the year's scented crop.
Cherry Festival (Jun / Sefrou, Fez):
Sefrou lies on the rising slopes of the Middle Atlas, the ideal ground for the thousands of cherry trees which lend the town its fruity renown. It takes place in an ancient walled town, one of the oldest in the area. Sefrou's Cherry Festival is celebrated over three days in June with music, dance and the mandatory colorful market. There are numerous sporting competitions, a torch-light procession, a fairground, and finally a Miss Cherry after the election with a parade by her admiring followers.
Camel Festival (Jul / Tan Tan, Goulimine):
The people of Goulimine hold an annual Camel Festival on top of their weekly Camel Fair (every Saturday). Once known as the "gateway to the Sahara", Goulimine is now less of a border town - due mainly to the decline of the camel as a mode of transport. The festival also offers the opportunity to witness the ancient dance ritual known as the Guedra, which is associated with Goulimine. The dance is performed by a woman to the beat of a drum made of a kitchen pot (guedra) and the chanting and clapping of onlookers. The dance often induces a hypnotic state and is carried out to serve as a blessing or to submit oneself to God.
Imilchil Marriage Feast (Aug -september / Imilchil):
Morocco's very own Romeo and Juliet story is the inspiration for this tribal marriage festival in which up to 40 couples tie the knot on one day in Imilchil in the Middle-High Atlas Mountains. The festival is also an excuse for the surrounding Berber tribes to get together and dance, give impromptu musical performances and enjoy a jolly good shop, as a massive market springs up in the town, selling everything from Gillette razors and batteries to exquisite tribal kilims (carpets). The legend goes that a man and a woman from two local villages fell in love but, were forbidden to marry by their families. They cried themselves to death, creating the two neighboring lakes of Isli and Tisslit near Imilchil, which are just a 20-minute walk apart. So stricken were their families, they established a day - on the anniversary of the lovers' death - on which members of the two villages could marry each other. The Imilchil Marriage Festival was born. More prosaically, the event serves a purpose by enabling otherwise desperate villages to meet and find partners - nature's way of widening the gene pool and avoiding the threat of inbreeding. Berber women are entitled to divorce and remarry and the market is now essentially made up of widows and divorcees seeking a new husband.
Date Festival (Oct / Erfoud):
Erfoud is the capital date-producing area with its one million date palms and is, therefore, the centre of festivities after the October harvest. Traditional processions, music and folk dance form the bulk of the events, with plenty of opportunity to sample the traditional Moroccan salad and Tagine, A fashion parade leads through the streets to the place Erfoud - where the winner is honored with the title of "Miss Date".
The Marrakech Film Festival: (7-15 december)
Having just wrapped its fifth year, Marrakech film festival still lacks a solid identity. For one thing, it still hasn't settled on a date. It began in September, each year it has hopscotched across the fall calendar, settling this year in November, just after Ramadan. But more importantly, it still doesn't know what it wants to be when it grows up. And yet it seems to want to be all things at once. Marrakech longs to generate the hype and glamour of Cannes, to support emerging talent like Sundance, to be taken as seriously by Hollywood as Toronto and to provide as unique and intriguing a setting as Venice. But like any new festival, it is still learning and stumbling toward its goal.
Paris-Dakar Rally (January):
Competitors from all over the world drive a mixture of, 4x4 vehicles, motorbikes and trucks over 6500 miles between France and Senegal since 1977, but only some of participants can expect to finish and reach Dakar in Senegal. The lucky few will cover five countries, two continents and contrasting extremes of heat and cold, with landscapes ranging from mountains to seaside, desert and farmland.
Marrakech Marathon (January / Marrakech):
The ancient Menara is a landmark on the Marathon route... runners from all over the world take part in the annual Marrakech International Marathon and Half-Marathon. The magical city offers an exceptional setting for this grueling athletic event, with a very mild daytime temperature (23 to 26°C) and a beautiful circuit...Considered one of the famous in the world, the marathon road follows the palm-lined boulevards of Marrakech, taking in the orange and olive trees of the Menara Gardens and continuing past the ramparts of the old and legendary Medina.
Almond Tree Blossom Festival (Feb / Tafraoute, Agadir):
Tafraoute is the almond capital of Morocco, the area is as famous for its produce as for the spectacle provided by the almond trees in full blossom amid the ochre red walls of the village. This ephemeral sight of natural beauty gives otherwise peaceful Tafraoute a party atmosphere, as a colorful market springs up, complete with dancers, musicians and storytellers. Tafraoute is a sight in its own right - the red walls of the village radiating from the heat between the pink cliffs of the Anti-Atlas.
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