Slip into your dancing shoes and let the dust spring up from under your feet because you’re ready to set off to a music festival in the unique land of Morocco. From Casablanca to Marrakech, you’ll find the best and most diverse music festivals that North Africa and the world offer.
Though the selection may be limited compared to countries in Europe or America, there’s no doubt that you’ll find one suits you.
So, we hope you have your ears waxed, costumes packed, and boots strapped, for there is no holding back at a Moroccan music festival. This guide will take you through different cities, genres, dates, and everything else you need to know to plan your itinerary around Morocco’s best music and dance experiences.
Casablanca’s jazz festival is a unique opportunity for all jazz lovers to experience sounds they would not find otherwise. Combining elements of European and American jazz and infused with the sounds and culture of Morocco, Casablanca’s jazz scene is one of a kind. The immigration of jazz to this North African country gave birth to a new sound, and Jazzablanca is there to celebrate it.
The most important aspect of Moroccan jazz and Dakkajazz is the rhythm. Hence, you can expect various types of drums, rhythms, counter-rhythms, and syncopation in this energetic style of music. Its sound pairs well with trumpets, and it is sure to have you on your feet, stomping along to the beat.
Not only will you experience Dakkajazz first-hand, but you will also hear more traditional styles on various stages. As with most jazz festivals, people of all classes and cultures will be present, keeping every second refreshing and interesting.
The festival usually takes place in June and July; the next dates are scheduled from 22 to 24 June 2023. Tickets are on sale for around $100, but the official line-up of the festival has yet to be announced. Regardless, the Jazzablanca festival is a magical music experience, and we recommend that you don’t miss it!
The Oasis Festival (also known as Oasis – Into The Wild) is one of Morocco’s most renowned music, culinary, and arts festivals. Yearly, this festival changes location, always keeping it fresh for local fans. Each year also features a different theme than the year before, breathing new life into each concept.
Since every year has a new theme, you can expect different DJs and themes of music, food, and visual arts. The announcement of the year’s featured artists is expected to arrive around March 2023, and one can expect tickets, location, and theme information to go live at this time. In the meantime, however, there are various videos of previous years to look at and get yourself excited.
While the festival is expected to take place from 27-29 October 2023 (important information if you’re planning your itinerary already), you can sign up on the festival’s website for presale tickets and exclusive information about everything concerning Oasis.
Moga Music Festival
Essaouira, a beach-side town often associated with Game of Thrones after scenes featuring Astapor was filmed here, is also home to the Moga music festival – one of Morocco’s finest. Featuring electronic beats, artists from around the world, good food, and vibes, it seems there’s nothing this celebration of music doesn’t offer its festival goers.
Set to take the stage in October 2023 in Essaouira; there is plenty of time to plan your trip to this annual music festival. Furthermore, fans of the franchise may be happy to hear that Moga also has an event in Caprica, Portugal, which is set to take place from the 1st to the 4th of June, 2023.
Gnaoua World Music Festival
Electronic music is the fashionable theme of music festivals as of late, but for lovers of traditional or more classical tunes, Essaouira offers something to you too! The Gnaoua festival is but one such event that might interest you. Every year in May, the Gnaoua music festival is sweet like honey for the ears and equally delicious to the eyes.
Allow your soul to dance as you listen to the world music featured at this festival in Morocco (just a little while southwest of Marrakech). Here you can catch up to 40 musical concerts by local and international artists. A wide variety of genres will be played. Still, it will mostly focus on those of African origin and influence – exactly what one would hope for when visiting a Moroccan music festival.
The Transahara Festival
That’s right! What could make a festival in Morocco more magical than dancing at the foot of a dune in the middle of the Saharan desert? The Transahara festival attempts to have partygoers, music enthusiasts, and nomads of all sorts do just that in a fashionable manner. The festival is also advertised as the International World Music Festival of Merzouga.
Set in the Merzouga mentioned above – a village in the Sahara – you can truly experience the nomadic Bedouin lifestyle during this 5-day festival. Tickets are available, though you will need a place to stay and transport to and from the venue. For the full (all-inclusive) package, you may need to cough up roughly $340, but you’ll be living in luxury, and it’s sure better than coughing up sand!
Mawazine Rhythms of the World
This festival, hosted in Rabat, is a whopping 9-day festival hosting artists from “starting” to stardom all across the globe. The Mawazine festival is roughly 10 times larger than Glastonbury in the UK. While the festival is international, it still grants the main stage to its local artists, which is a great way to market and praise domestic talent.
While the festival is still out of the game for the 2023 season of festivals, it will come back with a bang in 2024. After being canceled for three years in a row due to the coronavirus pandemic, organizers have had lots of time on their hands to ensure that their return to the stage will be the best yet. Best of all: the festival is completely free!
The World Sacred Music Festival
While the other festivals in this list have been praised as being international, few can truly hold their name in the light of the World Sacred Music Festival. Hosted in the holy city of Fez, various traditional and spiritual music is played at this intercultural festival. The togetherness of all these groups truly promotes a culture of peace and hope.
Usually held over ten days in early June, the official dates for 2023 have yet to be announced. However, you need to act fast if you want to secure these tickets as spirituals, intellectuals, and everyday people flock to this festival to catch a glimpse of their own cultures or other beautiful music.
Though it cannot be classified as a festival, the city of Marrakech is home to various bars, clubs, and event spaces. Naturally, many festivals set this town as their home base – especially the less renowned. Every weekend, a couple of new events pop up, and you will surely find a music festival suitable for your virtuosic needs. Just keep your eyes and ears pierced.
As we started in Casablanca, it is only right to end there too. L’Boulevard is a music festival featuring urban music, meaning anything from hip-hop, R&B, and soul, to rock, metal, and fusion will take the stage. Here underground artists get a chance to shine or to play in front of a like-minded crowd.
There you have it – the 9 most recommended music festivals for lovers of all genres and vibes. Morocco is sure to be all you dreamed of and more, with or without a festival, but while you’re there, it’s a great way to experience the culture to an even deeper degree. Have fun and stay groovy!
FAQs on Morocco music festivals
Q: What are some popular music festivals in Morocco?
A: Morocco hosts a variety of vibrant music festivals throughout the year, celebrating both local and international talent. Some of the most popular music festivals include:
- Mawazine Festival (Rabat) – One of the largest music festivals in Africa, featuring international and Moroccan artists across various genres.
- Gnaoua World Music Festival (Essaouira) – Showcasing the rich traditions of Gnaoua music, as well as a diverse array of world music artists.
- Fes Festival of World Sacred Music (Fez) – A celebration of spiritual and sacred music from around the world, held in the historic city of Fez.
- Oasis Festival (Marrakech) – An electronic music festival set against the backdrop of the stunning Atlas Mountains.
- Timitar Festival (Agadir) – Focusing on Amazigh culture and world music, this festival brings together a diverse range of artists and performers.
Q: When do these music festivals usually take place?
A: The dates of these music festivals vary each year, but they typically occur during the following months:
- Mawazine Festival – May or June
- Gnaoua World Music Festival – June
- Fes Festival of World Sacred Music – June
- Oasis Festival – September
- Timitar Festival – July
It’s always best to check the festival websites for the most up-to-date information on dates and lineups.
Q: How can I get tickets for these music festivals?
A: Tickets for these music festivals can usually be purchased through their official websites or authorised ticket vendors. Some festivals offer early bird discounts, while others may have free events in addition to their ticketed performances.
Q: What should I expect at a Moroccan music festival?
A: Moroccan music festivals offer a diverse range of musical genres, including traditional Moroccan, African, and international styles. You can expect an energetic atmosphere, vibrant performances, and a chance to immerse yourself in the rich cultural heritage of Morocco. In addition to the music, many festivals also feature workshops, art exhibitions, and local culinary delights.
Q: Are there any specific recommendations for attending a Moroccan music festival?
A: When attending a Moroccan music festival, consider the following tips:
- Check the festival website for schedules, venue information, and any specific rules or regulations and to see if they are easily accessible.
- Stay hydrated and wear sun protection, as many concerts take place outdoors in the summer.
- Dress respectfully, keeping in mind the local customs and culture.
- Be open to discovering new artists and musical styles, engage with fellow festival-goers to share experiences and recommendations and keep an eye on local pages for any upcoming festivals.