Sunday, June 20, 2010

Morocco's Festival season

Now that the successful Fes Festival of World Sacred Music has come to an end, there are plenty of other festivals in Morocco coming up.

This festival, which finished today, attracted a lot of interest, as always, from the local population of the town and surrounding areas. The Craft Market had around 35 stalls of local artisans' work including weaving, woodcarving, honey, argan oil and arts and crafts. On Saturday there was a procession of some 15 floats and a marching band, as well as the Cherry Queen wearing a cherry-covered caftan. Evening concerts were well attended and featured Moroccan favourites such as Magazan and Naas el Ghiwan.

On the downside, the market was full of Chinese plastic junk, and some particularly nasty pottery. The rides looked as though they'd been resurrected from the 1950s, and had no safety features, but people enjoyed them.

Everyone loved the bumper cars

Also part of the event was a daily fantasia, which had groups of horsemen (and women) competing from all over the region. Although programmed for 10h00, they usually didn't start until around 16h30 which meant planning the day was difficult.

And the cherries? Stalls full of cherry jam, cherry pie, cherryade? Er, no. There were a couple of cherry sellers in the medina, with prices higher than the supermarket.

A nice touch was blown-up copies of artworks by local artists that were hung on the medina walls, much appreciated by residents.

Local art on medina walls

Next on the agenda is this much-loved event, from 24-27 June in Essaouira.

Concerts held at Moulay Hassan, Bab Marrakech and the Meditel and Pepsi stages are all free of charge. Tickets must be purchased for the acoustic concerts at Dar Souiri and Chez Kebir as well as the traditional lilas at the two Zaouias, Gnaoua and Hmadcha.

Apart from the Gnaoua performances, the festival is billed as featuring 'world music'. Some of the artists are the Georgian National Ballet and the Armenian Navy Band, performing on the opening night.

For the full programme, see the festival's website.


The National Festival of Popular Arts runs from 16-24 July. It kicks off with a parade of over 500 artists at 20h00 on Friday 16 July in Djemaa el Fna, the heart of Marrakech.

The 45th edition of this festival will take place all over the city, using such venues as Palais Badii, Bab Ighli, Douar Akioud, Place el Harti and the Theatre Royal. All shows start at 22h00. Tickets for shows at Palais Badii are Dh100, and at the Theatre Royal just Dh20; the rest are free of charge.

The festival pays tribute to all regions of Morocco through a wide-ranging artistic program reflecting the diversity of the kingdom’s musical heritage: traditional, Chaâbi, Moroccan song, Amazigh, the Aïta and new generation pop art. See more details at the Festival's website.

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