Archive for the ‘What To See In Marrakech’ Category

September Events in Marrakech and elsewhere in Morocco

Friday, August 7th, 2015

Morocco hosts a variety of events in September, including:

Marrakech Art Fair - designed specifically for those interested in contemporary art, this event sees collectors and galleries showing off some of their most original modern creations. Most of the best galleries are to be found in Guéliz, the post war commercial quarter of the city.

Latin Dance Festival – open to all, this exciting event, taking place at the Palmaraie Palace resort between 2nd and 8th September, is an exuberant tribute to latin dance and salsa. Pool partys will be held at the Hotel du Golf.

Moonfest Takerkoust – this three-day festival takes place beside the lake of Lalla Takerkoust, in a beautiful part of the Atlas just 35 km (22 miles) from Marrakech. The festival comprises musical gigs (including local and international rock bands) as well as cultural and tourist themed attractions, many of the attendees being housed in a tented village by the lakeside.

(more…)

Notable Occasions in August in Marrakech

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015

Marrakech, like all other cities and regions in Morocco, celebrates three major public holidays during August. The first of these events, Allegiance Day, takes place on Friday, the 14th.

Allegiance Day

Zikra Oued Ed-Dahab, as this national holiday is locally known, is celebrated to mark the return, by Mauritania to Morocco, of the disputed region of Oued Eddahab.

Thaourat al-malik wa shâab

On August 20th the country celebrates ‘Thaourat al-Malik wa Shâab’, or ‘The King & the People’s Revolution’, an event commemorating King Mohammed V’s return to Morocco after exile in Madagascar. Mohammed V’s return set in motion the negotiations which eventually led to Morocco becoming an independent nation.

Eid Al Milad

Introduced mainly for the youth of Morocco (Eid Al Milad is often referred to as ‘Youth Day’), this public holiday, on 21st August, marks the official birthday of Mohammed VI. Ascending to Morocco’s throne following the death of his father, King Hassan II, in July 1999, King Mohammed is the Alaouite dynasty’s 18th monarch. Intended to reflect the harmonious relationship between the king and his citizens, Eid Al Milad sets the tone for a joyful, festive atmosphere throughout the country.

(more…)

Visiting Marrakech – Top Tips for Maximum Enjoyment

Wednesday, July 8th, 2015

Intriguing, atmospheric and filled with a seemingly endless variety of sightseeing options, the city of Marrakech is one of the most tourist friendly destinations in North Africa and, unlike most of its neighbours in the Maghreb, it suffers from none of the political unrest seen in the Middle East, Egypt and Tunisia. There are, however, a few things you should know in order to get the most out of your visit.

Bringing Cash

It is difficult to find ATMs in most parts of the city’s ancient medina although they are numerous in and around the Jemma El-Fna, the city’s main square. They are also widely available in Gueliz, the modern commercial quarter. Many shops and restaurants accept credit cards, although by no means as many as would be the case in Europe or America. Shopping in the souks invariably requires cash, i.e. Moroccan dirhams, although quite a few traders are happy to accept euros. There are several bureaux de change at Marrakech Menara airport but you will be able to draw cash without much difficulty in many parts of town.

(more…)

What’s Happening in Marrakech in July 2015

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015

July 17th this year marks Eid ul-Fitr, the end of Ramadan, a month of daytime fasting for all devout Muslims. Eid is celebrated by a day of feasting on a scale similar to the Christian Christmas although, unlike Christmas, the date of the festival of Eid changes every year.

Popular Arts Festival

This is also the first day of one of the major cultural events in the Marrakech calendar – the Popular Arts Festival. Scheduled to take place from 17th to 21st of July, this popular event is one of the city’s biggest and most colourful festivals. Performers, including seductive belly dancers, Berber musicians and international artists, magicians, snake-charmers and others will transform the city (and, in particular, the Djemma el Fna square and El Badi Palace) into a riot of colour and sounds. If you were able to experience only one Moroccan festival in your life this would be the one to go for.

(more…)

Morocco’s Berber Culture

Wednesday, June 10th, 2015

The core national identity of Morocco is based on its predominant twin cultures, indigenous Berber and Arab. Around 45% of Moroccans will claim direct Berber descent and about the same proportion Arab, although given the impact on the country’s history and culture since the arrival of civilisations from the Roman and Phoenician eras, and beyond, the origins of many Moroccans today are more complicated than that.

About the Berbers

The native Imazighen or Berber people of Morocco can be traced back as far as 4,000 years and some of their myths, legends and connections with other parts of Africa go back even further. The strength of the Berber identity is firmly rooted in its unique language and culture, both of which combine Mediterranean, European, Oriental and other international influences. During the seventh/eighth century steady migration from the Middle East and Maghreb introduced Islam and the Arabic language to the country, the two most dominant features of Moroccan culture today.

(more…)

Visit the Enchanting Valley of Roses

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015

While in Marrakech you should consider setting aside a day to visit the fortified village of Kalaa M’Goun (or Kelaat M’Gouna) in the picturesque, aptly-named and fragrant ‘Rose Valley’.

Kalaa M’Goun and the Rose

Appreciated as a departure point for walks and treks into the High Atlas, Kalaa M’Goun is the rose capital of Morocco. Here, the rose is the symbol both of hospitality (guests are given roses before and after meals), and of purity as distilled rose water is used for ablutions.

The Valley of Roses

Tours through the Valley of Roses start at Kalaa M’Goun and end some 30 km away at Bhou Thrar, location of the impressive, fortified village (ksar) that overlooks a beautiful oasis of calm. Distilleries which convert rose petals into rose water (one litre of rose water from no less than seven tons of rose petals) as well as soap and various other related products can be visited throughout the year. Rose derived products may be purchased on site. [M1] [M2] [M3]

(more…)

Marrakech Events to look out for in June 2015

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015

As temperatures continue to soar, the month of June sees fewer events than in May but there are still a couple worthy of mention.

Mawzine Festival

The month starts with the Mawzine Festival in Rabat. Running from 29th May till 6th June, it comprises a starry line up of international acts, exhibitions and street performances.

Mort de Rire

The International Comedy Festival (also commonly known as the MDR – ‘mort de rire’, French for ‘to die laughing’) is scheduled to take place from 10th to 14th June. Inspired by Moroccan/ French comedian, actor and producer Jamel Debbouze, the event showcases a stellar line up of francophone comedy talent. The main venue is the Badi Palace while others include the French Institute, the Theatre Royal and Palais des Congrés.

Other Things to do in June

(more…)

Marrakech in May – upcoming events

Friday, May 15th, 2015

From festivals taking place in Marrakech itself to those in the surrounding area and slightly further afield, every one of the popular events listed below is well worth adding to your schedule of things to see and do when planning your holiday in Marrakech.

Babyboomer’s Adventure Rally, 05/05/2015 – This light-hearted sightseeing rally takes in some of Morocco’s most scenic landscapes and routes. Winners are not determined by who reaches the final destination first but by whose car (and driver) are considered to be the ‘best turned out’ for the occasion.

Gnaoua & World Music Festival, 14/05 to 17/05/2015 – Taking place in coastal Essaouira, this annual event celebrates local gnaoua music but also features regional and international acts. The free public concerts regularly attract thousands of visitors from around the world.

World Sacred Music Festival, Fez, 22/05 to 30/05/2015 – Aiming to ‘highlight the spirituality and musical traditions which have served human and social development through the ages’, this wonderful festival, featuring some of the world’s best exponents of a diverse range of musical traditions, explores a vast repertoire of rhythms and musical genres.

(more…)

Exploring the Marrakech Souks

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015

To first-time visitors, the labyrinthine Marrakech souks will seem like a bewildering warren of narrow passageways, impossible to navigate. There is, however, some simple advice for negotiating your way round this vast market and, in the process, getting the most from your visit.

Method to Madness

First of all, remember that the layout of the souks, as with every other major market in the world, has some method in its apparent madness. As you look closer, you will notice that there are clearly defined sections within which the respective trades are grouped together making shopping for the various products on offer, from food and spices, to textiles, household goods and souvenirs, that much easier to manage.

Focal Points

However laid out, in a circular manner or rectangular grid system, or just randomly labyrinthine, markets always have anchoring focal points and the Marrakech souks are no exception. Focal points here include, for instance, the vast central square, the Place Jemaa el Fna, and the slightly smaller Spice Square, from which one can access the Carpet Souk, for example. If all else fails, you can always ask for directions back to these anchor-points.

(more…)

Koutoubia Mosque – a major Marrakech landmark

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015

The Koutoubia Mosque, one of Morocco’s largest, in the centre of Marrakech was built in 1158 by the Almohads, one of the country’s great imperial cities.

Koutoubia Minaret

The Koutoubia’s rose-coloured sandstone minaret stands 12.5 m wide and 67.5 m high. Adorned with delicately sculptured decorations giving the appearance of lacework on the stone walls, it is topped by a cupola crowned with three golden copper orbs and a square, decorated lantern. Most striking is the perfect harmony of the minaret’s height and width, a perfect example of Hispano-Moorish which served, as a model for the Giralda in Seville.

Legends of the Orbs

The beautiful orbs crowning the minaret’s cupola are surrounded by legend, one of which claims that they were created by melting down the jewellery belonging to the wife of Yacoub-el-Mansour, who completed construction of the tower started by Sultan Abd el-Moumen. Another legend is a warning to thieves that the orbs are guarded by jins (genies) who will plague with terrible misfortunes anyone trying to steal them.

(more…)