Any season is a good time to travel to Morocco. Whether you are passionate about monuments, natural landscapes or the relaxation of its beaches, these attractions will always be there for you. But if you are especially interested in knowing the traditions and festivities of Morocco, you are also in luck: there are many celebrations throughout the country, of very different character, spread over all months of the year and throughout the national geography.
In addition, they 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, shown below, with the approximate dates of their celebration.
Religion is present in all areas of Moroccan society. For this reason, many of the country’s traditions and festivities are related to it. Some have a festive character, others exude a logical spirituality to live them with greater recollection. But all of them are very current and stand out for their authenticity. These are the main ones.
We have already referred to Ramadan in the page on
but since it deeply affects the life of Moroccans during its celebration, it is important to deal with it in more depth. As we said, this is one of the five pillars of Islam and consists of fasting during the day, as well as abstinence from sexual relations during that part of the day. The objective is none other than the search for inner purification. It occurs during the ninth month of the Muslim calendar, which bears precisely this name.
What does Ramadan manifest itself in? In reality it is a holiday that, during the day, is lived ‘indoors’ and in a personal way. These are moments of prayer, rest and effort saving, precisely so as not to feel the need to ingest food and drink.
In return, nights take on a different and more social meaning: when the sun goes down, Moroccans come out of their lethargy with joy and perform the iftarThis is a family or community dinner where they recharge their batteries with hearty and consistent dishes, such as some of the ones we tell you about in this page on
It is therefore worth asking whether it is worth traveling to Morocco in the middle of Ramadan. And the answer depends on each case. If you consider this tradition to be a major attraction on your trip, then do not hesitate to do so. But if it is of little relevance to you, it may be best to avoid it, as the pace of the cities slows down greatly 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 may not be the most conducive to open up to strangers.
Ramadan takes place on different dates each year, since the Muslim calendar is lunar, unlike the Western calendar, which is solar. That is to say, its months have several days less and, therefore, Ramadan is ‘brought forward’ year after year. In the next decade, these are the exact dates:
After Ramadan, an important festival takes place in Morocco: Eid Al-Fitr or breaking of the month of fasting, which is celebrated on the first day of the following month, Chawwal. Not only is it considered a public 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, concerts and other folkloric demonstrations, sometimes spontaneous, are common. These festivities usually last two or three days, although only the first day is a non-working day and does not usually affect tourist services.
In any case, Eid Al-Fitr is primarily a private holiday celebrated with family and friends, with food taking center stage, as opposed to the fasting experienced in the preceding weeks.
Regarding the dates for the celebration of Eid Al-Fitr, they also vary each year, depending on when exactly Ramadan ends, as you can see above.
This is another of Morocco’s religious holidays and, therefore, shared with other Muslim countries. And again, it has a private and family character. As can be deduced from its name, the central act of the celebration is the sacrifice of a lamb, thus recalling the sacrifice of Abraham, an episode narrated in the Koran. According to the story, Allah tested the prophet Abraham, who did not hesitate to sacrifice his son by divine will, although an angel finally prevented it, so Abraham ended up sacrificing a lamb that was in a nearby bush.
In this celebration, the head of the family or a skilled butcher performs the slaughter of a lamb in the halal manner, i.e., facing Mecca and waiting for it to bleed out. On this day, the liver is cooked, as the meat is still too tough to be eaten. It is also a festival of solidarity, since it is a tradition that the wealthiest families donate the animal’s meat to the most needy.
The date of celebration of Aïd Al-Adha is 70 days after Ramadan, so it also changes every year with respect to the Western calendar.
In the calendar of public holidays in Morocco at the national level, there are other dates marked on the calendar that have a religious meaning. We list them below, in case they coincide during your trip:
In addition to these religious festivities, of national character and common to other Islamic countries, three moussems of local character should be mentioned 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.
As we have seen, the above festivities of a religious nature are celebrated in the private sphere, in the family or in the community, without an official program and at the expense of what one wants to organize in each house. However, in Morocco there are other types of festivities that are more social, with more far-reaching celebrations. They are the moussems and here we describe the most important ones because they are also an interesting tourist attraction.
The moussems are traditional festivals held in honor of an important personage for the community, but also to commemorate an agricultural or cultural-identity event. All are of cultural interest due to their long tradition, and in some cases are protected by law. This differentiates them from other more modern festivals that, without detracting from their interest and originality, have a more commercial character.
In the middle of the desert, about 300 km south of Agadir, very close to Western Sahara, is the city of Tan-Tan (Guelmim-Rio Noun region), which every year attracts the attention of many Moroccan and foreign visitors for the celebration of its moussem, listed as Intangible Cultural Heritage by Unesco.
Its origin dates back to time immemorial and its raison d’être was the meetings organized by the different desert tribes to strengthen relations among themselves. Numerous events took place for this purpose, such as the exchange of handicraft products, the sale of livestock or the arrangement of marriages between the main families.
Today, the Tan-Tan festival is held during the month of August in a large area with tents where an interesting craft fair is displayed, concerts and various performances take place and, above all, equestrian demonstrations with rifle shots included.
The moussem or Rose Festival takes place in spring, usually in early May, in the so-called Valley of the Roses, which is actually a stretch of the Dades Valley, further south in the Atlas Mountains.
The epicenter of this moussem is in Kelaa M’Gouna, a locality located in the heart of this oasis that lends itself to the production of the damascena rose. The origin of its cultivation dates back to the 30s of the 20th century, introduced by the French during the Protectorate period, with the intention of exploiting its industrial and cosmetic uses.
Its production has become so important that, according to some sources, 4,000 tons of this flower are harvested. This accounts for the spectacular color that this valley acquires in spring. It is therefore an incomparable setting for the annual festival held here, with concerts, theatrical performances, craft fairs, food tastings and even a parade of floats.
Although Erfoud is known worldwide for its prehistoric fossils, it also has another hallmark, in this case sweeter and tastier: dates. In fact, the date palm is numerous in Morocco and Unesco has designated Morocco (along with others) as a protector of the ‘Knowledge, know-how, traditions and practices associated with the date palm’. So Erfoud is the best ambassador of this fruit of special interest.
Specifically, what can be found in October in this moussem, during the harvesting of dates, are tastings of its different varieties, musical concerts, gastronomic and handicraft fair and other cultural events that are scheduled each year. Also, it is worth mentioning that Erfoud is a city that is part of many of our tours that go to or return from the Merzouga desert, so this festival can easily be part of your trip, if you ask us and it coincides with the dates.
The Moussem of Cherries, which takes place in Sefrou (Fez-Meknes region), has certain parallels with the previous ones: it is declared Intangible Cultural Heritage by Unesco (like that of Tan-Tan) and features an iconic food of the area (like dates in Erfoud), which was also introduced by the French during the time of the Protectorate (like the roses in Kelaa M’Gouna).
Sefrou is located in one of the most humid regions of the country, on the slopes of the Middle Atlas, and this has favored the planting of numerous cherry trees, which bear fruit here in June. With the town full of cherries, markets, sports competitions, tastings, theater performances and even a contest of the Queen of the Cherry to choose the most beautiful young woman: after being crowned, she will parade in a dress decorated, of course, with this fruit.
The almond is a nut that is very present in Moroccan gastronomy. And surprisingly enough, many of them are harvested in the Souss-Massa region in the south, one of the driest in the country. Despite this, the people of Tafraout reaped the rewards in March and, encouraged by the success of the moussems mentioned above, began to organize their own festival in 2010, with a similar character to them: tastings, craft markets, cultural events ….
Again in the Souss-Massa region and again a surprising food product: in Imouzzer, the honey moussem is celebrated on variable dates between May and August, a sign that bees are an abundant and appreciated species in the area. The surroundings of Imouzzer offer an extraordinary contrast to its arid environment: in its rugged terrain are formed pools, waterfalls, caves and havens of vegetation where they find shelter argan trees, palm trees, olive trees and, of course, flowers, lots of flowers.
For this reason, the town has promoted this festival with a program that includes music, crafts and local cuisine, which makes abundant use of this sweet ingredient. And for the more curious, guided tours are organized to the local beehives, where you can learn first-hand about the ‘miracle’ performed by the region’s beekeepers.
This moussem has two very different names. The first of them, the ‘official’ and most recent: of the Mountains, since it takes place in this small town in the Atlas. The second, the most traditional but in disuse: that of the Bride and Groom.
The origin of this festival, which takes place between August and September, was to arrange marriages between members of the nomadic Berber tribes of the Atlas and the desert. Because of their way of life, it was not easy for men to establish lasting contacts with women and then enter into a relationship. So they began to organize this festival in which women could ‘present’ themselves as candidates for future husbands, exhibiting themselves in their best clothes and with attributes that identified them as first-time, divorced or other status.
In these times when women have acquired a more independent status and the moussem was beginning to be frequented by tourists, the authorities decided to give a twist to the moussem and turn it into a broader cultural festival, with sale of handicrafts, livestock fair, religious pilgrimage and Berber food stalls.
This moussem can be considered a midway option between modern festivals (born with the tourism boom to boost the activity of a city) and traditional moussems (which reside in the heart and identity of the people).
This is because it was created relatively recently, in the 1970s, 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 total acceptance of its population, to the point of feeling very proud of it. It is true that travelers and artists from all over the world come here, but the force that moves it every year is the locals themselves.
Asilah’s cultural moussem usually takes place in July and originated as a large exhibition of mural paintings decorating the walls of the medina’s streets. It was a way to restore and restore splendor to the then decadent city. But today it is a much broader festival, with exhibitions, conferences, concerts and many other cultural activities, often with the incomparable setting of urban art that gives color to the center. For this reason, it has become one of the most favorite dates for bohemian travelers.
This is one of the moussems that shows more religious sense, since its purpose is to honor Moulay Idriss I el-Akbar or Zerhoun, whose mausoleum or marabout is located precisely in the village that bears his name, about 30 kilometers from Meknes. The great work of this personage, who was the grandson of Mohammed and founder of the Idrisid dynasty, was the Islamization of what is now Morocco at the end of the 8th century, whose population was still largely Berber.
As is the case with any other religious manifestation, only the Muslim faithful may participate in the main events. But it is possible to come as a spectator to watch the parades of confraternities and soak up the atmosphere in this beautiful town of whitewashed walls and roofs covered with characteristic green tiles.
With a name very similar 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 ninth century. Moreover, he is very much loved in Fez, a city that he enlarged and designated as capital to the detriment of Volubilis.
In this moussem takes place the procession in which numerous brotherhoods sing, dance and wear their best clothes to show their devotion on the way to his mausoleum, which is located in the medina. It is celebrated in September and is the best opportunity to admire the masterpieces of the embroiderers of Fez, who also produce every year silk and gold fabrics for the tomb of this character, revered as a saint.
This religious moussem takes place near the city of El Jadida, on the Atlantic coast, a sign that this type of festivity is widespread throughout Morocco. In this case, it is a tribute to this ascetic who came from Medina, and his acts are distributed over a week.
Among the most solemn moments are the reading of the Koran, the contest of memorization of verses of this sacred book and other acts that aim to exalt the religiosity and mysticism of Amghar. In addition, the program is completed with folkloric performances and exhibitions linked to local tradition, such as falconry.