hile Morocco’s most widely celebrated festivals are Islamic, the focus on food, family and community (plus legendary Moroccan hospitality) makes it easy for anyone to get involved in the celebrations. Just keep in mind that they are based on a lunar calendar, which means the dates change every year. In addition to these religious holidays, Morocco has a number of unique cultural festivals that offer insight into the ancient traditions of the land. While there are too many festivals and holidays to name them all here, here’s a list of the main ones to keep an eye out for.
- Yennayer (Amazigh New Year)
- Almond Blossom Festival
- International Nomads Festival
- Eid al-Fitr
- Fes World Sacred Music Festival
- Eid al-Adha
- Milad un Nabi
12–13 January – Yennayer (Amazigh New Year)
This Amazigh (Berber) holiday marks the beginning of the agricultural year. While it’s only celebrated in places with a majority Amazigh population (primarily in the Atlas Mountains) the lively celebrations are worth catching if you have the chance.
Almond Blossom Festival
The Almond Blossom Festival is held in Tafraoute to honour the transformation of the landscape during the annual blooming of almond tree flowers, as well as the cultural traditions of the Amazigh (Berber) folks who live here. Visit this tiny town for musical and cultural performances, Amazigh hospitality and some very creative recipes involving almonds. Usually held in the second week of February.
International Nomads Festival
This open-air festival is a multicultural celebration of all of Africa’s diverse nomadic cultures. Music, dance, talks on cultural issues, incredible food and more are all on offer at this unique festival, which is held annually in the Draa Valley.
This Islamic holy month of daytime fasting and contemplation is widely observed in Morocco. If you travel during this period you’ll find locals more subdued and streets quiet during the daytime when folks are fasting. Travellers are not expected to observe the fast, but drinking, smoking and scoffing down street food in public during the daylight hours is frowned upon. The experience of enjoying iftar (the daily meal that breaks the fast) with locals is truly special and the celebratory nature of the evenings makes this a unique time of the year to travel. Dates change every year.
While technically a part of Ramadan, Eid al-Fitr deserves its own mention as the incredible feasting party that concludes the Islamic holy month and breaks the fast for good. While many businesses will be closed, try and score an invite to a family or community gathering for a unique party.
Fes Festival of World Sacred Music
This celebrated music festival draws international and local acts from a range of genres for performances that take place among the winding alleyways of the Fes Medina and other historical landmarks.
This four-day Islamic celebration commemorates the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his son to God and begins with the ceremonial slaughter of a goat or sheep. This is followed by a few days of feasting and partying among friends and family. If you travel during this period, you’ll likely be invited to share in the elaborate meals and festivities with locals.
10 November – Milad un Nabi
This nationally recognised public holiday is held in celebration of the birth of the Prophet Mohammed. Mosques are decorated and stalls spring up in their courtyards selling everything from snacks to handicrafts.