Until 1925 Fez was the modern capital of Morocco and it retains its prestige as one of the most enchanting and enriching cities in the country. Home to the world’s largest car-free city center and the world’s oldest functioning university, it’s no surprise Fez is listed as a UNESCO world heritage site and a must-visit on tourist radars. Before you pack your bags and visit Fez, here are ten articles for you to read, get prepared, and make sure you get the most out of your visit to this ancient city. (more…)
When traveling abroad, if you take the time to seek out and learn about local traditions, you’ll glimpse a window into what shapes a place and its culture. Sometimes these local traditions take the form of particular foods prepared in specific ways. Other times they might be a certain form of dress, community festivals, day-to-day routines, and music. All of which may seem exotic to visitors. But to locals, these typical traditions might seem to be rather hum-drum affairs or something they take great pride in. Here are a few things you should know about some of the more typical traditions in Morocco you can expect to find on your journey. (more…)
For nearly every traveller to Morocco, one of the biggest highlights is listening to live Moroccan music. From the performers jamming in Marrakesh’s famous square, Jemma el-Fnaa every night, to the Gnawa beats pulsing in the desert… one thing is for certain, Moroccan music will set beat to your time in Morocco. But what if you’re stuck at home or on a plane? What is the best Moroccan music you can download? (more…)
For the past 15 years Essaouira has been home to the Gnaoua World Music Festival. Every summer in June, for four days, the Gnaoua Festival welcomes famous musicians to participate, share their musical ideas and create one of the most elaborate concerts in the world. Starting in 1998, the concerts have regularly drawn crowds of more than 200,000 people. The festival provides not only a platform for musical exchange but a meeting point for open-minded dialogue between foreign artists and the transcendental Gnaoua musicians. It’s a place where Gnaoua music meets the rest of the world and exchanges ideas. This colorful patchwork of musical fusion provides a fantastic space for Gnaoua musicians to jam with jazz, pop, hip-hop, rock and contemporary world music masters in the coastal town of Essaouira.
Gnaoua music is a mixture of sub-Saharan African, Berber and Sufi religious songs and music. The musical style can be described as both a spiritual prayer and an important celebration of life. Like most music, much of Gnaoua’s style can be traced to sub-Saharan Africa. Today, its practice is concentrated in Morocco. (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…)
When some visitors travel to Morocco, cultural experiences are an enticing attraction. This is why so many venture to the port city Essaouira to participate in the World Gnaoua Festival. Also known as the Essaouira Gnaoua and World Music Festival, the event brings together global music traditions as well as those of the Gnaouas, a blend of African tribal music and Islamic rituals. The music itself incorporates drums and other instruments to bring the performers to a trance-like state.
Essaouira is one of those picturesque seaside places dotted with houses painted in bright white and blue. It is a popular resort location situated just below the Atlas Mountains and attracts travelers who want to indulge in its relaxing environs and take advantage of its excellent beaches. The town is a former Portuguese settlement dating back to the 18th century. While waiting for the music events to begin, you can absorb some of the local history by touring old fortresses or browse the myriad shops that house Essaouira’s many artisans and craftsmen.
If you enjoy the adventure of getting lost in a whimsical destination, Fez el Bali should be right up your alley…literally. And if you want to set this adventure to a spiritual soundtrack make sure your are there in time for the Fez Festival of World Sacred Music.