Top 5: Festivals of Morocco

by Akhil Kalepu

Oct 3, 2016

Jemma al Fnaa, Marrakech, Morocco © Simon Thomas | Dreamstime

Top 5 / Africa

Morocco has long been a crossroad of culture from Europe, Africa and the Middle East, creating a vibrant blend of cultures best shown through the country’s many festivals. Here are five favorites to plan your trip around.



Rabat’s annual music festival is gargantuan in size with a lineup of 90 acts performing on seven stages across the city. Its draw of 2.5 million people makes Mawazine the second-largest festival in the world.


International Film Festival of Marrakech

Everyone enjoys Casablanca, though it was almost entirely filmed in Burbank, Calif. Founded in 2001, the International Film Festival of Marrakech aims to reposition the country as a center of cinema in North Africa and the Middle East, showcasing local talent alongside Hollywood stars.


Marathon des Sables

Called “the toughest foot race on Earth,” Marathon des Sables is 156-mile trek across the Sahara Desert of southern Morocco. More than several hundred competitors journey across the sand for six days, many of whom are running/walking for a charity.


Gnaoua World Music Festival

If Mawazine is intimidating, the Gnaoua World Music Festival might be more your style. Located in the picturesque coastal town of Essaouira, this four-day music festival features a variety of music, but has its origins in the Gnaoua people, a brotherhood of mystics that are descendants of slaves and mercenaries from the old Mali Empire.


Rose Festival

Located at the foot of the Atlas Mountains, El Kelaâ M’Gouna is the center of rose production in Morocco. Thousands of pounds of flowers are cultivated from April to May, used to make potpourri, essential oil and rosewater.



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