The Ashura Festival in Morocco (often spelled: “achoura”) is truly a festival for kids… and kids at heart! Kids all get new toys, as well as the staple Darbuka (a goblet drum) and Berrada (a clay piggy bank). Kids go from playing music and eating healthy treats, like fakia, to playing with water.
But there is so much more to the Ashura Festival in Morocco than just drums and toys! Ashura is a perfect example of the Judaeo-Islamic tradition in Morocco, deeply rooted in values of tolerance and coexistence.
Like most towns in Morocco, Asilah has a walled medina. But in Asilah, the walls are painted with colorful, elaborate murals. For the last thirty two years, the Asilah Arts Festival has rehabilitated and promoted the city of Asilah by fostering artists from around the world.
Asilah is a resort town on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean, only fifty kilometers from Tangier. For the first two weeks in August, the town explodes with culture while it hosts the Arts Festival. Artists use the festival as a way to exhibit their work for the public and exchange ideas with other creative individuals. Every year a group of painters collaborate and design a wall mural at the Medina. Visitors are invited to watch the work as it progresses.
Beyond paintings, the Asilah Arts Festival works to encourage cultural dialogue, exchange ideas and promote peace. Guests and speakers include politicians, journalists and writers who exchange ideas and inspire one another to create a global cultural landscape. (more…)
Many know Marrakech as a bustling cultural hub, rich with historical sites, museums and colorful souks. Locals and visitors alike are especially drawn to Place Djemaa el Fna, the city’s main square, which showcases a nightly maze of dinner stalls, storytellers, musicians, artists and more. The reputation makes Marrakech a natural home to the Popular Arts Festival, taking place July 10-18 this year.
Thousands of Moroccans and international visitors flock to the festival each year to admire the artistic feats of performers from throughout Morocco and around the world (particularly Europe and Asia). Attending the range of Moroccan performances will give you a taste of the nation’s ancient past as well as its modern pop culture. Look for featured performances by ancient folk dancers, traditional Berber musicians, and fusion and pop bands. Other talents on display include fire swallowers, storytelling, snake charming and acrobatics. The nightly “Fantasia” just outside of town also draws crowds with groups of men and women in traditional clothing, presenting a choreographed performance on horseback. (more…)
For the past 18 years, the city of Fez, Morocco, has put on the Festival of World Sacred Music, dedicated to the traditions of knowledge, art and spirituality of the city. It began as a peace initiative following the first Gulf War but has since become an established part of the world music and art scene. This year’s event runs from June 8-16 at different venues in the city of Fez. The theme is “Re-enchanting the World,” and pays tribute to Persian poet Omar Khayyam.
Acts from around the world converge on Fez along with thousands of attendees there to pay homage to sacred music from around the globe. There is a heavy focus on Sufi music, however, music from all over the globe is represented. This year’s acts hail Hungary, Romania, Central Europe, Lebanon, Tunisia, India, Cuba, Pakistan, Iceland, Iran, Guinea, France, Morocco and the United States. Along with musical acts there are several poetry readings, poetry set to music and dancing troupes. (more…)
The lively and energetic streets of Marrakech, Morocco, become even livelier during the annual Marrakech Popular Arts Festival. This multi-day festival features artists, dancers, singers, theatre troupes, fortune tellers and snake charmers from all over Morocco as well as Europe, Asia and beyond. Held annually in July, the Arts Festival is one of the most celebrated and popular events in Morocco.
Festival performances take place in venues scattered throughout Marrakech. Most of the major events take place around the grounds of El Badi Palace. The grounds of El Badi provide a historic backdrop for the festival and visitors will be offered a glimpse of its former grandeur. Red walls and an expansive courtyard are all that remains from the once great palace that took over 25 years to construct. Sadly Moulay Ismaï destroyed the palace in the late 1600s to decorate his own palace in Meknes and most of what is left of El Badi is in ruins. (more…)