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Traditions and festivities

Traditions and Festivities in Morocco

Any time is a good time to travel to Morocco. If you are passionate about monuments, natural landscapes, or the relaxation of its beaches, these attractions will always be there for you. But if you have a special interest in learning about the traditions and festivities of Morocco, you are also in luck: there are many celebrations throughout the country, of very diverse character, spread throughout all the months of the year and throughout the national geography.

Moreover, these are very exciting festivities, which the Moroccan people live with great intensity. So, if you want your trip to coincide with any of them, take a look at the most important ones, which we show you below, with the approximate dates of their celebration.

Table of Contents

Traditions Related to Religion

Religion is present in all spheres of Moroccan society. Therefore, many of the country’s traditions and festivities are related to it. Some have a festive character, others exude a logical spirituality to be experienced with more recollection.

But all of them are very much alive and stand out for their authenticity. These are the main ones.


We have already referred to Ramadan on the page about Religion, but since it profoundly affects the life of Moroccans during its celebration, it is important to discuss it more thoroughly. As we said, it is one of the five pillars of Islam and consists of daytime fasting, as well as abstinence from sexual relations during that part of the day. The goal is none other than the search for inner purification. It occurs during the ninth month of the Muslim calendar, which is precisely named after it.

What does Ramadan entail? In reality, it is a festivity that, during the day, is lived ‘indoors’ and in a personal way. It is a time for prayer, rest, and conserving energy, precisely to avoid the need to consume food and drinks.

In return, the nights acquire a different and more social meaning: when the sun sets, Moroccans come out of their lethargy with joy and perform iftar, that is, a family or community dinner where they recharge energy with hearty and consistent dishes, like some of those we tell you about on this page about Gastronomy.

Therefore, it is worth asking whether it is worthwhile to travel to Morocco in the middle of Ramadan. And the answer depends on each case. If you consider that this tradition is a main attraction for your trip, then do not hesitate to do so. But if it is not too relevant for you, it may be better to avoid it, since the rhythm of the cities greatly decreases during the day, and many establishments and monuments close more frequently. In addition, it is possible that during this period the mood and character of some Moroccans are not the most conducive to openness to strangers.

Ramadan takes place on different dates each year, since the Muslim calendar is lunar, unlike the Western one, which is solar. That is, its months have several days less, and therefore, Ramadan ‘advances’ year after year. In the next decade, these are the exact dates:

  • 2024: March 11 – April 9
  • 2025: March 1 – March 30
  • 2026: February 18 – March 19
  • 2027: February 8 – March 9
  • 2028: January 28 – February 26
  • 2029: January 16 – February 14
  • 2030: January 6 – February 4
  • 2031: December 26 – January 24

Eid Al-Fitr: End of Ramadan Celebration

Immediately following Ramadan, an important celebration takes place in Morocco: Eid Al-Fitr or the breaking of the fasting month, which is celebrated on the first day of the following month, Chawwal. Not only is it considered a holiday in the country, where the vast majority of professionals do not work, but it is also celebrated in style in some places.

For example, in Marrakech, after the great prayer that takes place on this day, it is common for there to be concerts and other folkloric performances, sometimes arising spontaneously. These parties usually

last two or three days, although only the first is non-working and does not usually affect tourist services.

In any case, Eid Al-Fitr is mainly a private celebration held with family and friends, and its main focus is food, as a contrast to the fasting experienced in the previous weeks.

The celebration dates for Eid Al-Fitr also vary each year, depending on the exact end of Ramadan, as you can see above.

Aïd Al-Adha: The Celebration of Sacrifice

This is another of the religious festivities in Morocco, and therefore, shared with other Muslim countries. Again, it has a private and familial character. As can be deduced from its name, the central act of the celebration is the sacrifice of a lamb, thus commemorating Abraham’s sacrifice, a story narrated in the Quran. According to the account, Allah tested the prophet Abraham, who did not hesitate to sacrifice his son by divine will, although an angel ultimately prevented it, so Abraham ended up sacrificing a lamb he found in a nearby bush.

On this day, the head of the family or an expert butcher carries out the halal slaughter of a lamb, facing Mecca and waiting for it to bleed out. The liver is cooked on this day, as the meat is still too tough for consumption. Moreover, it is a festival with a charitable character, as it is traditional for wealthier families to donate the animal’s meat to those in need.

The celebration date for Aïd Al-Adha is 70 days after Ramadan, so it also changes each year relative to the Western calendar.

Other Religious Festivals in Morocco

In the national calendar of holidays in Morocco, there are other dates marked in the calendar that have a religious meaning. We list them below, in case they coincide with your trip:

  • New Year of the Hegira, i.e., the first day of the month Muharram: it marks the beginning of the Muslim calendar, when the year changes, but although it is a holiday, its celebration has nothing to do with Western New Year’s Eve. Again, it is celebrated with family or friends, as a private gathering, and prayers are made in honor of Muhammad, as this day marked the beginning of his journey from Mecca to Medina. The start takes place when the crescent moon is first sighted after sunset, not from midnight.

  • Aïd Al-Mawlid Annabawi, the birthday of Muhammad. It is celebrated on the 12th day of the month Rabi’ al-Awwal, with family and around a table full of abundant typical dishes. During the day, prayers and blessings are made to Muhammad and Allah.

In addition to these religious festivities, which are national in character and common to other Islamic countries, three moussems of local significance are worth mentioning for their relevance: those celebrated in Meknes, Fez, and El Jadida, in honor of Idriss I, Idriss II, and Abdellah Amghar, respectively. We review them in the following section.

The Moussems

More Popular and Festive Celebrations: The Moussems

As we have seen, the aforementioned religious festivities are celebrated in private settings, with family or the community, without official programming and dependent on what each household wishes to organize. However, in Morocco, there are other types of more social festivities, with broader celebrations. These are the moussems, and here we describe the most important ones because they also represent an interesting tourist attraction.

The moussems are traditional festivals celebrated in honor of a character significant to the community, but also to commemorate an event of agricultural or cultural-identity nature. All of them are of cultural interest due to their long tradition, and in some cases, they are protected by law. This differentiates them from other more modern festivals which, without detracting from their interest and originality, have a more commercial character.

Moussem of Tan-Tan, in Guelmim-Río Noun

In the middle of the desert, about 300 km south of Agadir, near Western Sahara, lies the city of Tan-Tan (Guelmim-Río Noun region). Each year it captures the attention of numerous Moroccan and foreign visitors for the celebration of its moussem, listed as Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO.

Its origins date back to ancient times, and its purpose was the gatherings organized by different desert tribes to strengthen relationships among themselves. With this intention, numerous acts took place, such as the exchange of handicrafts, livestock sales, or arranging marriages among the main families.

Today, the Tan-Tan festival is celebrated in August in a large enclosure with tents where a fascinating crafts fair is held, concerts and varied performances take place, and above all, equestrian demonstrations with rifle shots are presented.

Moussem of the Roses, in the Valley of the Roses

The moussem or Festival of the Roses takes place in spring, usually in early May, in the so-called Valley of the Roses, which is actually a part of the Dades Valley, further south of the Atlas Mountains.

The epicenter of this moussem is Kelaa M’Gouna, a town located in the heart of this oasis conducive to the cultivation of the Damask rose. The origin of its cultivation dates back to the 1930s,

introduced by the French during the Protectorate period with the intention of exploiting its industrial and cosmetic uses.

Its production has reached such importance that, according to some sources, 4,000 tons of this flower are harvested. This accounts for the spectacular colors that this valley takes on in spring. And therefore, it provides an unparalleled setting for the annual festival celebrated here, with concerts, theatrical performances, craft fairs, gastronomic tastings, and even a parade of floats.

Moussem of the Dates in Erfoud

Although Erfoud is world-renowned for its prehistoric fossils, it also has another identity marker, in this case sweeter and tastier: dates. In fact, the date palm is numerous in Morocco and UNESCO has designated this country (among others) as the protector of the ‘Knowledge, wisdom, traditions, and practices associated with the date palm.’ Therefore, Erfoud is the best ambassador for this fruit of special interest.

Specifically, what can be found in October at this moussem, during the date harvest, are tastings of its different varieties, musical concerts, a gastronomic and craft fair, and other cultural events that are programmed each year. Additionally, it should be noted that Erfoud is a city that is part of many of our circuits that go to the Merzouga desert or return from it, so this festival can easily be a part of your trip, if you ask us and it coincides with the dates.

Moussem of the Cherries in Sefrou

The Moussem of the Cherries, which takes place in Sefrou (Fez-Meknes region), shares certain parallels with the previous ones: it is declared Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO (like the Tan-Tan one) and features an iconic food of the area (like the dates in Erfoud), which was also introduced by the French during the Protectorate era (like the roses in Kelaa M’Gouna).

Sefrou is located in one of the country’s most humid regions, on the slopes of the Middle Atlas, which favored the planting of numerous cherry trees, which here bear fruit in June. With the town full of cherries, markets, sports competitions, tastings, theater performances, and even a Cherry Queen contest are organized to choose the prettiest young woman: after being crowned, she will parade in a dress decorated, of course, with this fruit.

Moussems of the Almonds in Tafraout

The almond is a nut that is very present in Moroccan gastronomy. And as surprising as it may seem, many of them are harvested in the Souss-Massa region, in the south, one of the most arid areas of the country. Despite this, the people of Tafraout collect the fruits in March and, encouraged by the success of the above-mentioned moussems, began organizing their own festival in 2010, with a similar character: tastings, artisan markets, cultural events…

Moussem of the Honey in Imouzzer

Again in the Souss-Massa region and again a surprising food product: in Imouzzer is celebrated, on variable dates between May and August, the moussem of honey, a sign that bees are an abundant and appreciated species in the area. The surroundings of Imouzzer offer an extraordinary contrast with its arid environment: in its rugged relief, pools, waterfalls, caves, and vegetation shelters are formed where argan trees, palm trees, olive trees, and, of course, flowers, many flowers, find shelter.

Therefore, this festival has been promoted in the town with a program that includes music, crafts, and local gastronomy, which abundantly exploits this sweet ingredient. And for the more curious, guided tours to the local beehives are organized, where you can firsthand learn about the ‘miracle’ carried out by the region’s beekeepers.

Moussem of the Mountains or of the Brides in Imilchil

This moussem receives two very different names. The first one, the ‘official’ and more recent: of the Mountains, as it takes place in this small town in the Atlas. The second, the more traditional but in disuse: of the Brides.

The origin of this festival, which takes place between the months of August and September, was to arrange marriages among the members of the nomadic Ber

ber tribes of the Atlas and the desert. Due to their way of life, it was not easy for men to establish lasting contacts with women to later start a relationship. Thus, this festival began, where women could ‘present’ themselves as candidates for future husbands, displaying their best finery and attributes that identified them as novices, divorcees, or other statuses.

In these times when women have gained a status of greater independence and the moussem began to be frequented by tourists, the authorities decided to give a twist to the moussem and turn it into a broader cultural festival, with the sale of artisan products, livestock fair, religious pilgrimage, and Berber food stalls.

Festival of Culture in Asilah

Festival of Culture in Asilah

This moussem can be considered an option halfway between modern festivals (emerged with the tourism boom to energize the activity of a city) and traditional moussems (which reside in the heart and identity of the people).

This is because its creation is relatively recent, in the 70s, and its objective was precisely to revitalize the small Atlantic city of Asilah, in the north of the country. But its success has made it a hallmark of this destination, with full acceptance by its population, to the point of being very proud of it. It is true that travelers and artists from all over the world come here, but the force that drives it every year is that of the locals themselves.

The cultural moussem of Asilah usually takes place in July and emerged as a large exhibition of mural paintings that decorated the walls of the streets of the medina. It was a way to restore and return splendor to the then-decaying city. But today it is a much broader festival, with exhibitions, conferences, concerts, and many other cultural activities, often against the incomparable backdrop of urban art that colors the center. Therefore, it has become one of the favorite events for the most bohemian travelers.

Moussem of Moulay Idriss I, near Meknes

This is one of the moussems that shows the most religious sense, as it aims to honor Moulay Idriss I el-Akbar or Zerhoun, whose mausoleum or shrine is precisely in the town that bears his name, about 30 kilometers from Meknes. The great work of this character, who was the grandson of Muhammad and founder of the Idrisid dynasty, was the Islamization of what is today Morocco at the end of the 8th century, whose population still had a predominantly Berber base.

Like any other religious manifestation, only Muslim faithful can participate in the main acts. However, there is the possibility of attending as a spectator to see the parades of brotherhoods and soak up the atmosphere in this beautiful town of whitewashed walls and roofs covered with characteristic green tiles.

Moussem of Moulay Idriss II, in Fez

Very similar in name to the previous one, it shares with it an atmosphere of religious devotion. But in this case, in honor of his posthumous son, Moulay Idriss II, a monarch who continued the work of his father in the 9th century. In addition, he is very beloved in Fez, a city that he enlarged and designated as the capital to the detriment of Volubilis.

In this moussem, the procession takes place in which numerous brotherhoods sing, dance, and dress in their finest garments to demonstrate their devotion on their way to his mausoleum, which is located in the heart of the medina. It is celebrated in September and is the best occasion to admire the masterpieces of the embroiderers of Fez, who also produce silk and gold fabrics for the tomb of this character, venerated as a saint.

Moussem of Abdellah Amghar, in El Jadida

This religious moussem takes place near the city of El Jadida, on the Atlantic coast, indicating that this type of celebration is widespread throughout Moroccan geography. In this case, it is a tribute to this ascetic who came from Medina, and its events are spread over a week.

Among the most solemn moments are the reading of the Quran, the competition for memorizing verses of this sacred book, and other acts aimed at exalting the religiosity and mysticism of Amghar. In addition, the program is completed with folkloric performances and exhibitions linked to local tradition, such as falconry.

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