May – early summer in Marrakech and beyond

With at least 10 hours of sunshine per day, only 20 mm of rainfall (typically falling over just 3 days) and temperatures at an average 21˚c (from night time 14˚c to daily highs around 27˚c), the month of May really kicks off summer, contrasting markedly with the cooler climate of most of northern Europe. Once again, tourists have an array of festivals to enjoy.

Kelaa-des-Mgouna Rose Festival, 2nd Weekend in May

Celebrating the coming into flower of Marrakech’s thousands of roses, the Rose Festival takes place over two days within the souk area of Kelaa-des-Mgouna, the desert town location of the largest of Morocco’s rose water distillery plants. Festivities include a parade of colourful, flower-decorated floats accompanied by traditional Berber music, dancing, singing and sword-juggling displays; in addition, there is the election and crowning of this year’s Rose Queen and sale of lots of delicious local food. Camel rides and excursions to the lovely Valley of Roses are also available.

Gnaoua World Music Festival, 12/05/2016 -15/05/2016

From 12th – 15th May, the charming 18th Century port town of Essaouira, some two hours west of Marrakech, with its iconic blue-shuttered windows on white-washed houses, hosts one of Morocco’s largest summer events, the Gnaoua World Music Festival. Fascinating, colourful and immensely popular, the festival celebrates Gnaoua (or Gnawa) arts and music and promotes the Gnaoua people’s musical and other ancestral contributions to Morocco’s cultural heritage.

Mawazine Festival, 20/05/2016 – 28/05/2016

For contemporary concerts featuring international stars as well as local performers, art exhibitions, street entertainment and more, you should head north to Rabat during the last week of May. Since its 2002 inception, the Mawazine Festival has featured big-name headliners including Elton John, Whitney Houston and Stevie Wonder, Quincy Jones, Kylie Minogue and many more, as well as singers and musicians from all over Africa, the Caribbean, Europe, India and South America.

Desert Music Festival (date to be confirmed)

Somewhat smaller in scale and less mainstream, the Desert Music Festival in Errachidia in south-west Morocco puts on both traditional Moroccan as well as international music performances featuring native instruments and dancing. Together, the eclectic musical genres make for a lively, truly unique atmosphere that is well worth experiencing.

Other Things to do in May

The beautiful gardens of Marrakech are really coming into their own in May and offer a wonderfully peaceful, cooling retreat from the steadily rising temperatures of the dusty city. Must-visit gardens include the famous Jardin Majorelle, Bahia Palace Gardens and the Arsat Moulay Abdeslam Cyber Park; the garden of the Dar Si Said (Moroccan Arts Museum) and, of course, the Agdal, often referred to as the ‘Islamic Versailles’ and regarded as the most important as well as largest garden in Marrakech.

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