Whether it’s a groovy rave in the oasis of Marrakesh or a moving celebration of sacred music in the old city of Fes, fill your social calendar with one or more of many unforgettable music festivals in Morocco.
Whenever you travel to Morocco, you will hear its rich musical culture, with Berber, Andalusian, Arabic and sub-Saharan influences. Morocco is becoming a top destination for music festivals, showcasing local and international talent, eclectic musical genres and beats in its ancient medinas and modern cities.
Here are 8 of the top must-see Moroccan music festivals among which there are some you can enjoy in the upcoming months of September and October!
The World Sacred Music Festival in Fes is a week-long festival gathering Moroccan Sufi singers, Jewish-Arab poets, African-American jazz saxophonists and international stars.
Founded back in 1994 and held in the heart of the old city of Fes, the World Sacred Music Festival of Fes is definitely one of the most incredible and magical music festivals in Morocco and in the whole world. The backdrop alone is stunning: set in the middle of palaces, gardens and interior courtyards, the views are unmatched, there truly is no dreamier setting for it like the cultural capital and imperial city of Fes.
The festival is an opportunity to discover local artists and artists from all over the world, incredible singers, superb shows and artistic performances with a program that is eclectic and diverse, featuring styles from Chinese fiddle music, klezmer folk melodies and African-American gospel, the sacred music festival brings together artists from different faiths promoting culture of peace and harmony. Almost three decades old, the festival was founded with the same aim of promoting religious tolerance, cultural diversity and spiritual values that it is still carrying out today.
Mawazine Music Festival in Rabat
The Mawazine Festival – Rhythms of the World or simply Mawazine, was launched in 2001 under direction from King Mohammed VI to encourage cultural tolerance, openness, respect and dialogue. It’s considered today one of the largest music festivals in Morocco and in the world, attracting more than 2.5 million people, transforming Morocco’s political and administrative capital into a huge open-air stage.
The 2019 edition alone attracted nearly three million people, making it more than 10 times the size of Glastonbury.
With the city of Rabat, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as a backdrop, the Mawazine festival reveals a much more modern side of Morocco showcasing eclectic musical genres, mixing big names from around the world with established and emerging local artists.
The festival is indubitably international: world stars like Wiz Khalifa, Ellie Goulding Marshmello and The Weekend have played in front of its huge crowds, Moroccan musicians made the headlines and a mixture of nationalities have walked on the its stages rocking the Moroccan capital for nine days from May to June.
Morocco’s Gnawa music is now on UNESCO heritage list, it has been included in December of 2019 on the UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
This makes the Gnaoua festival in Essaouira, a celebration of the Gnawa music all that more special.
The Gnaoua festival in Essaouira takes place in either May or June of every year and offers a very varied blend of world music and Gnaoua music featuring daily concerts by top Gnawa bands alongside guest stars from West Africa and beyond, playing a stimulating mix of jazz, folk, reggae and blues. .
Every year, the festival’s scene takes over the city of Essaouira by tens of thousands of tourists, not to mention the many Moroccans who come from all over the country. It’s a celebration of the Gnawa music and musicians, a showcase and appreciation of their artistry, their hypnotic rhythms, soulful voices, flamboyant outfits and offbeat dance moves.
For 2022, the festival has taken on a new shape, a traveling concert, shows and stages in not only the city of Essaouira but 3 new destinations with the idea that if due to the pandemic you can’t come to the Gnawa festival, the Gnawa festival comes to you.
Jazzablanca Music Festival in Casablanca
“It’s much more than jazz at the Jazzablanca Casablanca festival”
Jazzablanca is an eagerly awaited jazz music festival. Every year, the Casablanca hosts a music festival that mixes both well-known and emerging artists from Morocco and around the world.
There is pop, there is rock, there is blues and funk, DJs are also appearing including Moroccan groups. Jazzablanca has it all, with a mission to make jazz music accessible to everyone, which is also why some concerts are free. The festival has more than 40 concerts spread over nine days and two halls, with a program that includes pop, rock, hip-hop, folk, and the kind of modern mash-ups you’d expect from a music event. a cosmopolitan and creative setting, Jazz still plays a central role in the festival.
L’Bouelvard Music Festival in Casablanca
Over the years, the country has seen a new Moroccan scene hatch, develop and renew itself with Casablanca’s L’Boulevard
Over the years, The Boulevard Festival of young musicians, commonly known as L’Boulevard has made a place for itself in the urban festivals calendar of the continent.
Pop, hip-hop, electronic dance music, rock… and even heavy metal! All the sounds we don’t usually associate with Morocco can be found at L’Boulevard; the event is dedicated to new trends and young Moroccan musicians. It is an unknown Morocco that The Boulevard Festival has revealed since its launch, on the eve of the 2000s.
This pop/rock and urban music festival, held in the city of Casablanca in October of every year, seeks to promote new Moroccan musical groups through a competition called Tremplin. In addition to the festival itself, other activities are carried out, such as workshops, with the same purpose: to discover and promote young Moroccan musicians.
Since its launch a few years ago, the Oasis Festival has contributed to making Marrakech an electronic music destination that rivals Ibiza and Croatia with its combination of carefully curated lineup, party atmosphere and beautiful setting.
The Oasis Festival is a big three-day electronic music festival, famous for its lineup, house and techno’s most exciting talents, where Morocco’s vibrant culture is part of the experience – it offers traditional street food and henna body arts – and you can start your day at the spa and finish dancing under the stars with a craft cocktail at the champagne bar or in the shisha lounge.
For September 2022 the Oasis Festival is taking a new shape introducing the concept of “Oasis: Into The Wild” a cultivated new vision of Morocco where the idea is to embody escapism and create new traditions in destination locations starting with the dreamy surroundings of one of south of Morocco’s most incredible destinations: Dakhla.
Chellah Jazz Festival in Rabat
For 4 days, European jazz musicians and Moroccan musicians get on stage to perform jazzy sounds mingling with the rich sounds that abound in Moroccan musical heritage making Chellah Jazz an unmissable event on the cultural scene of the Moroccan capital.
Launched in 1996, an initiative of the European Union in Morocco, the festival started with the idea of presenting a meeting between European jazz and Moroccan musicians of all musical backgrounds.. 24 editions later, more than 300 concerts have taken place since its creation in Rabat, the meeting of European Jazz and Moroccan music has become the hallmark of Chellah Jazz. Several concerts between European and Moroccan musicians have extended beyond the walls of the Chellah to lead to touring projects and albums in both Morocco and Europe.
Timitar Music Festival in Agadir
Every summer Timitar festival animates the beautiful coastal city of Agadir with a celebration of Amazigh music, a fusion with world music bringing together singers and musical groups to form a very exciting representation of the different popular sounds of Morocco heard from the high Atlas mountains to the remote villages of the desert.
In addition to the musical performances of the festival, you can have the opportunity to enjoy different workshops, conferences or cinematographic projections that respect the essence of the event. Agadir is the perfect city to enjoy the summer and the Timitar Festival is a big plus for those who seek to get to know Morocco’s music scene and enjoy festivals.