Oh festival season is upon us here in Morocco and I’m busy trying to figure out how to squeeze all this cultural goodness in to my already-packed diary. You see, if there is one thing I love it’s festivals. And here in Morocco we have no shortage of musical and cultural programming throughout the year. But with the holy month of Ramadan starting in mid-June, many festival dates have been moved forward this year. This list is by no means exhaustive, but rather the events I am hoping to attend.
April 11 2015
Shining the spotlight on the classic and ever so stunning caftan, I’ve wanted to attend the Caftan fashion show since arriving in Marrakech four years ago. A whole evening dedicated to this haute-couture evening wear from leading designers and stylists.
May 2 to 3 2015
Located in the Rose Valley village Kalaa M’Goun, the Rose Festival is a local celebration following the rose harvest including musical performances and the crowning of Miss Rose. Locally produced rose water used for both cosmetic and alimentary purposes is available for sale throughout. The Rose Valley and nearby Dades Valley are just so picturesque even without the festival.
Gnaoua and World Music Festival
May 14 to 17 2015
Hands down one of my favourite weekends of the year. Starting with an upbeat and colourful street parade with all musical troops parading through the medina of Essaouira through to the Saturday night main stage show and the closing Sunday evening concert, this weekend is buzzy from start to finish. Don’t miss the intimate concerts on the rooftop of the Bastion Bab Marrakech, I’ve seen some great acts here!
Fes Festival of Sacred Music
May 22 to 30 2015
Another festival that has been on my bucket list for years and with this year’s emphasis on African music, it’s become a must-do. In fact, when I first visited Morocco on holiday five years ago, the festival was underway and I stuck around for an outdoor sunset performance. Since, I’ve been dying to go back and experience the festival having heard about the Sufi nights from my former world music journalist Alecia Cohen, the intimate concerts from Cris at SunTrails, as well as the general ambiance throughout from Mouhib in Fes. So I’m preparing to head off to the North and spend my days exploring new riads, ruined palaces and nights filled with concerts until the wee hours!
But in reviewing the programme, I’m most excited to see Oumou Sangare on Sunday 24 May, Ballake Cissoko from Mali performing with Debashish Bhattacharayya, Les Masques de la Lune, and Cuban-Malian performance featuring Roberto Fonseca and Fatoumata Diawara.
29 May to 6 June 2015
Morocco’s leading music festival featuring a line-up of international stars (past years have included Lionel Richie, Mariah Carey, Justin Timberlake, Pitbull) takes place this year from 29 May to 6 June. I would love to see Usher and Placebo in concert, but this is during my highest of high season in Marrakech any escape is doubtful. But that’s ok, I love the projects I’m working on in my town Marrakech.
As with any festival, the line up is as important the fashion and festival outfits to be worn. Stay tuned for picks from my favourite Moroccan designers.