Every year, the sun-bleached, windswept city of Essaouira on Morocco’s Atlantic coast plays host to a festival of Gnaoua and World Music. Normally it is held in June, but this year’s 18th edition will take place – like many of the main Moroccan music festivals – in May, to avoid a clash with the holy month of Ramadan. The dates for this year’s event are 14-17 May 2015.
Morocco Festivals & Holidays
Every year in April, the Moroccan port city of Essaouira holds one of its many annual festivals. The Spring Festival is called the “Printemps Musical des Alizés” (the Musical Springtime of the Trade Winds). As well as featuring international and Moroccan artists of classical music genres, the festival celebrates the coming of Spring and the trade winds which have brought Essaouira its maritime fortune in past times. The festival in Essaouira also coincides with the Spring season of local religious festivals and pilgrimages of both the Muslim and Jewish faiths. In the local Moroccan Arabic dialect, such festivities are called moussem.
From 22-30 May 2015, the ancient city of Fes will host the 21st edition of its world famous Sacred Music Festival. This Fes Festival Program offers a full schedule of magnificent musical performances at the Bab Makina, the Bab Boujloud Gate and the Batha Garden & Museum
From 22-30 May 2015, the ancient city of Fes will host the 21st edition of its world famous Sacred Music Festival. The origins of Fes lie in the 8th century by Idris I, who is known for bringing the religion of Islam from Arabia in the East, to Morocco. Fes’ spiritual credentials were boosted by the establishment of the al-Qarawiyyin (or al-Karaouine) University, mosque and madrasa (religious school). It became one of the spiritual and educational centers of the Muslim world and remains today the longest-standing university in the world. Fes’ role as the spiritual hub of Morocco is underscored by its historical role as the seat of Islamic learning in the Kingdom and an openness towards other cultures and religions. These factors make it the perfect location for two of Morocco’s most well-known festivals: the Fes Festival of Sufi Culture (18-25 April 2015) and the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music (22-30 May 2015). (Note: This year’s Sacred Music Festival is being held a few weeks early to avoid a clash with the Holy month of Ramadan. It is normally held in June).
Morocco’s ancient city of Fes (Fez) was Morocco’s first imperial capital. Fes was established and developed by Idris I – founder of the Kingdom of Morocco and credited with the Islamization of the country – and his son, Idris II. More than a millennium later, it remains Morocco’s spiritual heart. In some parts of the ancient medina, little has changed since mediaeval times. As such, the ancient palaces, Koranic schools and gardens make magical settings for two key festivals in the Fassi year: the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music (22-30 May 2015) and the Fes Festival of Sufi Culture (18-25 April 2015).
The Marrakech International Film Festival is now in its 14th year. The festival will take place in Marrakech from December 5th – 13th, 2014. Founded in 2000 as a means to promote Morocco as a production destination on the international film circuit, it is now responsible for an influx of film fan and film industry visitors every December to the ‘Red City’.
The Festival des Andalousies Atlantiques (Atlantic Andalucía Festival) celebrated in October 2014 its 11th year in Essaouira, on Morocco’s Southern Atlantic coast. It is now a well-established fixture in the annual schedule of this festival city, alongside the Gnaoua World Music Festival (which held its 17th edition in Essaouira – 2014) and the Printemps Musical des Alizés (the Spring chamber music festival initiated in 2000).
The Erfoud Date Festival takes place in early October for 3 days (dependant on the harvest) and makes for the perfect pitstop on a Morocco Private Tour. Erfoud is a small oasis town in the Moroccan Sahara desert, about 6 hours to the east of Ouarzazate. It is a quiet little town with red buildings surrounded by beautiful scenery and date palms stretching from Er Rachidia to the North, and Rissani to the south to form the largest expanse of palm groves in Morocco.
The Fes Festival of World Sacred Music, celebrates its 20th anniversary this year with the theme Conference of the Birds: Journey of Cultures. It has been twenty years of a musical, spiritual and artistic journey exploring the cultures and traditions of the world, revealed in ever greater depth through concerts, exhibitions, film screenings and debates. It takes place in Fes, Morocco from June 13th – 21st, 2014.