Guide to Summer Festivals in Morocco

Rabat – Many come to attend one of the myriad festivals Morocco has to offer, alongside local music fans.In Fez, the Festival of World Sacred Music is already in full swing. This week marks the start of the Mawazine Festival in the capital of Rabat, and the Gnaoua Festival in Essaouira. Here is a breakdown of events for the summer of 2019:Fes Festival of World Sacred Music – FezFrom June 14 to 22 The Festival of World Sacred Music in the ancient city of Fez has been recognized by the United Nations as “an event contributing significantly to dialogue among cultures.” Every year it draws music fans from around the globe to experience performances by internationally famous rock stars as well as Sufi musicians. Now celebrating its 25th anniversary, this year’s festival will feature performances by Nass el Ghiwane and Youssou Ndour.Gnaoua Festival – EssaouiraFrom June 20 to 23The annual Gnaoua Festival in Essaouira has drawn up to half a million visitors to the seaside city with a mix of jazz, rock, pop, and traditional Gnaoua acts. Indigenous to North Africa, trance-inducing Gnaoua music is a fusion of pre-Islamic African and Sufi elements. In addition to a full roster of traditional Gnaoua performers, artists including Baloji, Moh! Kouyaté, and desert blues superstars Tinariwen will take the stage this year.Mawazine Festival – RabatFrom June 21 to 29This festival, started in 2001, boasts six stages located in the capital of Rabat and the city of Sale across the river. Each stage has a different focus, including international, discovery, world music, and an oriental stage dedicated to regional artists. The popular festival lasts eight days and draws millions of music fans. This year the event features artists such as the Black Eyed Peas, Mashrou Leila, and Najwa Karam.Sefrou Cherry Festival – SefrouFrom June 28 to July 1Held at the end of June every year, the Sefrou Cherry Festival is on the Unesco List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Located about 20 miles from the city of Fez, every year Sefrou hosts a range of performances and cultural experiences during its Cherry Festival. Popular amongst locals and tourists alike, the festival started in 1920 and features a beauty contest to crown the annual Miss Cherry.  Timitar Music Festival – AgadirFrom July 3 to 6The Timitar Music Festival showcases local Amazigh (Berber) musicians and international acts every year in Agadir. The festival website states the event is “dedicated to the dialogues between Amazigh artists and musicians from various horizons.” Now in its 16th year, this edition of the festival will include performers such as Najat Aatabou, DJ Ali T, and Eugenio Bennato.Asilah Arts Festival – AsilahStars late JulyEvery year artists and visitors flock to Asilah’s medina for a month-long art festival. The event serves both as an opportunity for artists to sell their work, and as a forum for dialogue between cultures. During the festival, the Hassan II International Forums Center offers a series of lectures for writers, musicians, artists, and spectators alike.Located in the Atlantic Coast about 40 kilometers south of Tangiers, Asilah’s walled medina features murals painted annually by local and international artists, a fitting complement to the annual festival.Oasis Festival – Marrakech September 13 to 15As the summer begins to fade, the Oasis Festival descends on Marrakech in mid-September. A new edition to the festival roster in Morocco, the electronic music event made its debut in 2015. Oasis quickly earned recognition, and ranked among the top music festivals that year.Performers are still being added to the program, but currently Four Tet, Jayda G, and François X are among the artists scheduled to perform during the three-day event.

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