Festivals & celebrations in Morocco

festivals and celebrations in Morocco

Festivals and celebrations in Morocco, whether it’s a question of Muslim religious festivities, national celebrations, or Western inspiration… These are all cultural events that encourage one to immerse oneself in the culture and tradition of Arab-Muslim countries. We find common points in Morocco, but also in Egypt and Algeria, as well as specific ones relating to some or specific cities or regions. Here is all you need to know about Festivals and celebrations for you tour in Morocco.

The main festivals and celebrations in Morocco

Various festivals and cultural celebrations of all sorts take place during the year in the cities of Morocco. Moussems are cultural events held throughout the country. Mostly religious but sometimes secular, that are relevant to the harvest, nature, or prominent Quranic figures. The following are some of the most important events that occur on Moroccan streets.

The festival of almond trees

The flowering of the almond trees, which happens in January-February or sometimes in December, allows people to feast. Also, their cities are illuminated by the vibrant and vivid colors of the almond trees. Dancers, singers, and traditional storytellers are among the highlights of this Moroccan festival.

International Festival of Nomads in M’hamid El Ghizlane

Every year in March, the festival takes place in the Draa Valley. It’s an unusual occurrence because it takes place in the middle of the desert, south of Zagora. It’s an ideal opportunity to learn more about the nomadic tribes’ culture through crafts, painting, and weaving. This Moroccan festival is famous for its songs and dances, as well as artists’ interpretations of tales and poems.

Rose Festival in Kelaa M’Gouna

Rose cultivation is one of the primary activities of the communities in the Dades and M’Goun valleys. This gives rise to one of the most original festivals and celebrations of Morocco! The residents dress up in their most glamorous costumes to celebrate the blooming of the rosebushes in May. The festival is brought to life by singers, flute players, and drummers. The Candles Convoy of Salé, the moussem of Tan Tan, the festival of traditional arts in Marrakech, the honey festival in Imouzzer Ida Outana. Also, the moussem of engagement in Imilchil are all popular Moroccan festivals.

Candles Convoy of Salé

The candle procession, also known as the wax procession or the moussem of candles, is one of the most beautiful traditional Moroccan celebrations. It takes place on the eve of Mawlid, another festival commemorating Muhammad’s birth(the prophet of Islam), in the city of Salé (near Rabat).

The moussem of Tan Tan

Tan-Tan moussem, which has been around since 1963, for many years, they forgot it. This important traditional Moroccan festival. However, it has been given new life as it is now celebrated every year in September in Tan-Tan. UNESCO has even designated it as an intangible cultural heritage of humanity.

During these few days of celebration, the Sahara’s various nomadic populations gather to promote the culture of the Beidane world. This process goes through a variety of activities, exhibitions, and performances. A camel race, a carnival, and folkloric dance performances are available.

The festival of traditional arts in Marrakech

On the orders of the late Mohamed V, the National Festival of Popular Arts of Marrakech was first held on July 21, 1960. Originally known as the “Marrakech Festival of Folklore,” the Festival’s primary goal is to ensure the sustainability and promotion of Morocco’s popular arts. This is actually achieved by organizing an annual gathering of the main troops from all over Morocco, which reflects the richness and diversity of popular arts.

It also acts as a defender of traditional Moroccan culture by highlighting the pultiplicity of Moroccan artistic performances during the festival. Marrakech was chosen to host this national festival not only because of the image it embodies as a city of arts and creation, but also because it is Morocco’s first tourist destination. The Festival’s organization was initially provided by the Ministry of Tourism, and for decades the Association Grand Atlas has ensured the continuation. The prestigious Badia Palace in Marrakech receives the groups each year and provides the public with a rich and enriching mosaic of Moroccan traditional arts.

Marrakech’s National Festival of Popular Arts celebrated its 50th edition in 2019. Participation in the Festival is a crucial stepping stone for traditional arts organizations, encouraging artists to work harder to ensure the sustainability and viability of their performances passed down from generation to generation.

The honey festival in Imouzzer Ida Outana

Every year, the summer months are an opportunity to go for a walk about sixty kilometers northeast of Agadir, in the village of Imouzzer des Ida-Outanane. Known for its waterfalls, this mountainous region is famous for its honey.

The Valley of Paradise bears its name well, the whole road is worth the detour. This Berber region displays the colors of its land. Entire villages built in red adobe to the white houses of Imouzzer. The center of the village becomes, during the moussem, the showcase of the flagship product of the region: honey. Flavored with medicinal plants, thyme, lavender …, it is declined endlessly to offer visitors a wide range of local products. Like the amlou, which is offered to newlyweds, and which is a mixture between honey, argan oil and crushed almonds.

The festival of honey allows all professionals to exchange and thus to evolve their beekeeping practices. A highlight of this sweet treasure that supports many families and generates significant income for the region.

You can participate, alongside experts, in tastings of different nectars and elect the best. The producers are rewarded for the quality of their products. Complex and difficult jobs, but so essential.

Thanks to demonstrations on the production of honey and the breeding of queen bees, you will know everything about this unique product, which has been a powerful antibacterial since antiquity.

Don’t miss the collective apiary in the clay walls, where the harvested honey is distributed in huts, owned by the villagers. Take advantage of the trip to admire the flat orchards of olive, almond and argan trees. Even if the water only flows in winter, this mountainous region offers sumptuous landscapes of rocks and waterfalls.

The moussem of engagement in Imilchil

Imilchil is famous for its festival, officially called the festival of engagement, historically Souk Aam or Agdoud N’Oulmghenni, which reflects the Berber civilization of all Amazigh (all tribes).

Thanks to the tribe of At Yaazza, which has remained faithful to the practice of communal marriage amid the transition to individual marriage. This case has a solely cultural character in which the mythical, magical, and creative are combined.

The festival’s intent is straightforward: according to Islamic tradition, a man must give money to a woman in order to marry her; the value of the dowry is often dictated by the parents of the girls, who sometimes seek large amounts. On the occasion of this festival, however, a few cents would suffice to fulfill this dowry necessity.

This great moussem (fair) serves as a gathering place where inter-tribal relations are strengthened. The combination of the festival and the moussem generates considerable commercial activity (particularly livestock sales) and tourism, which provides a breath of fresh air to the area through the influx of national and European tourists. But there is still more work to be done to make this festival more culturally significant.

The attendance of Berber folk groups (Khenifra, Midelt, Errachidia, Azrou, etc.) enhances the Imilchil festival. The echoes reach far beyond Moroccan boundaries, earning it a global prestige comparable to that of the Woodstock festival. The Imilchil district, which includes about twenty towns spread over a mountainous geographical area of about 50 km2, is devoid of hope.

The main holidays in the Arab world

The events that have the greatest cultural resonance in Arab-Muslim countries are those that best describe them. Many tourists from all around the world are inspired by religious and cultural celebrations that are traditional or exclusive to specific countries. There are also public holidays and western-inspired festivals in addition to religious holidays.

Arab or Islam-related festivals and holidays in Morocco

The dates of these celebrations are fixed according to the lunar calendar, which explains why the beginning or the end of Ramadan varies from one country to another. There are two main Muslim holidays: Eid al-fitr or Eid el-Seghir and Eid al-Adha or Eid al-kabir.

Eid al-fitr marks the end of the Ramadan fast and lasts at least two days, during which communities gather and feast. This Arab festival is also marked by the solemnity of the Eid prayer. It is also traditional to wear new clothes and to give children gifts.

In addition, there is the presentation of wishes and large family meals. Eid al-Adha commemorates the day when the Prophet Abraham agreed to offer his son as a sacrifice. The Arab festival, which can last several days, also marks the end of the pilgrimage period to Mecca. Heads of families sacrifice sheep on this occasion according to Muslim rites. The family members eat a third of the animal, the other third is offered to the needy and the last third is dedicated to the guests.

National or country-specific festivals in Morocco

Many countries in the Arab world have a national holiday, often marked by a large parade and fireworks, to galvanize the patriotic spirit of their citizens. In Jordan, for example, the birthday of King Abdullah II is celebrated on January 30. In Morocco, the population celebrates the revolution of the king and the people on August 20 and the youth festival on August 21. O

In addition, some countries have specific holidays for certain cities or regions. This is the case, for example, of the moussems in Algeria (such as the Taghit moussem, the date harvest festival in Taghit, an oasis located in the west of the country; or the moussem of the tomas in Adrar…).

Western-inspired celebrations & festivals in Morocco and the Arab Muslim-world

These are mainly international celebrations through which the nations of the Arab-Muslim world interact culturally with the Western world. These celebrations include New Year’s Day, Labor Day and Mother’s Day.

International Festivals and celebrations in Morocco

If the sun and idleness come to mind when you think of Morocco, you’re not alone. It is a culinary destination not to be missed, with its endless squares and souks, as well as its magnificent desert. Every year, it hosts a plethora of festivals whose fame has rapidly spread across the globe. Here’s a rundown of these events, which often attract tens of thousands of participants.

Mawazine Festival

What better way to begin than with the largest and most well-known Moroccan festival? Since 2001, Rabat has hosted the ” World Music Festival ” Mawazine. If the festival’s prestige has grown over the years, it is largely thanks to the foreign music stars who have competed over the years to help ignite the public on the seven specially constructed stages in the Moroccan capital. Every year, the top of pop music, rap, and R’nb, from Sting to Akon, Mariah Carey, and Shakira, perform under the Moroccan spotlight, igniting a public and media frenzy beyond measure.

The Marrakech International Film Festival

With this festival held in the kingdom’s famed “ochre city,” it makes room for cinema and the 7th art. Every year, it puts together the most prominent foreign and national film celebrities, from actors to directors. The festival also encourages short and feature films to be shown across Marrakech, from theaters to Jamaa el Fna Square. The “Golden Star” award, given by an expert jury, is given to the best works.

The Gnaoua Festival of Essaouira

The Essaouira Gnaoua Festival and celebration takes place in the summer as well. It puts together lovers and musicians of Gnaoua music from all over the world in the north of Morocco. It’s also a chance to blend western artists’ music with the traditional and magical music of the Gnaouis. The well-known inhabitants of southern Morocco. The Festival attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year in the city’s resort area.

The Festival of Casablanca in Morocco

The Casablanca festival is one of the best festivals in Morocco, which has been running for over 15 years now, is structured around the core themes of music, cinema, urban architecture, and street performances. A festival that celebrates Morocco’s cultural richness by bringing together experts and amateurs, adventurers and novices. Following that, the festival refocused on the subjects of film, poetry, and sculpture. It is Morocco’s most famous and frequented festival, and it is completely free of charge.

Timitar Festival in Agadir

For a dozen years, the Timitar festival has highlighted Amazigh-Berber music as a symbol of Morocco’s ethnic richness and demographic diversity. Each year, a program of modern songs, cultural performances, workshops, and conferences are arranged in the small village particularly for the occasion. According to the festival’s site, they will showcase “they best of the traditional and modern repertoires” of Amazigh songs.

FAQ about festivals and celebrations in Morocco

What do they celebrate in Morocco?

In Morocco they celebrate festivals like; the Rose Festival in Kelaa M’Gouna, the festival of almond trees, the moussem of Tan Tan, Candles Convoy of Salé and many more.

Do they celebrate the valentine’s day in Morocco?

Though valentine’s days is not a really famous celebration in Morocco, but still a lot of people celebrate it with their beloved ones.

Do they celebrate christmas in Morocco?

In Morocco, most people do not celebrate Christmas because the kingdom is primarly a muslim country.

What is Santa Claus called in Morocco?

In Morocco, Santa Claus is called Baba Achour.

What is the most important holiday in Morocco?

There are many important holidays and celebrations in Morocco. However, some of the main ones can be Eid Al Adha or Eid Al Fitr as well as the independace day on the 18th November of each year.

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