Cultural Festivals - Marrakech - Holiday Travel

Cultural Festivals

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Cultural Festivals:-

Marrakech can be a lure in July and December. In December, the Marrakech International Film Festival screens films from other parts of the world alongside some filmed in Morocco. In this Fastival catch a glimpse of a visiting celebrity -- American actor John Malkovich chaired 2011’s festival jury. The Marrakech Popular Arts Festival takes place each July with acrobats, fire-swallowers, dancers and musicians from across the county performing in the streets.


The name Marrakech originates from the Amazigh (Berber) words mur (n) akush, which means "Land of God." It is the third largest city in Morocco after Casablanca and Rabat, and lies near the foothills of the snow capped Atlas Mountains and a few hours away from the foot of the Sahara Desert. Its location and contrasting landscape has made it an enviable destination in Morocco.The city is divided into two distinct parts: the Medina, the historical city, and the new European modern district called Gueliz or Ville Nouvelle. The Medina is full of intertwining narrow passageways and local shops full of character. In contrast, Gueliz plays host to modern restaurants, fast food chains and big brand stores.

By Air:- The main point of arrival and departure is Menara airport (024 447865), a 6km ride southwest of the Medina and Guéliz. Petits taxis (local taxis) cost around Dh60 by day or Dh80 at night, or an airport transfer arranged through your riad (guesthouse) or hotel will be Dh150 to Dh200. Airport transfers to/from the Palmeraie cost Dh150 to Dh250.If this is your first time at the hotel or riad in the Medina, arrange an airport transfer to deliver you to your destination so you don’t get lost. Go with the airport-transfer option to the Palmeraie, as many taxi drivers are unfamiliar with Palmeraie roads. Hotels in Guéliz are easy to access by petit taxi.
Airport Information:

  • Flight Information (024 447865)
  • Information desk (8am-6pm)
  • Royal Air Maroc (024 436205;; 197 Ave Mohammed V, Guéliz; 8.30am-12.30pm & 2.30-7pm)
  • Low-cost airlines are a benefit to travellers, but a burden on the environment and Marrakesh’s air quality; to travel with a cleaner conscience, consider a carbon-offset program and a donation to a local nonprofit.

By Road:-  Supratours (024 435525; Ave Hassan II) offers cushy air-con buses to/from Essaouira and Agadir; book in person or via your hotel/riad. Book buses to/from Fez, Azilal/Cascades d’Ouzoud, Ouarzazate and other Moroccan cities at the CTM counter at Gare Routière or at the Guéliz CTM office (024 448328;; Blvd Mohammed Zerktouni, Guéliz). Buses arrive and depart at Gare Routière at Bab Doukkala.

ByTrain:- For the train station (024 447768, 090 203040; cnr Ave Hassan II & Blvd Mohammed VI, Guéliz), take a taxi or city bus (buses 3, 8, 10 and 14, among others) from the centre. There are trains to Casablanca (three hours, nine daily), Rabat (4½ hours, eight daily) and Fès (eight hours, eight daily) via Meknès (seven hours). A night service goes to Tangier.

Best Time to visit:

Spring and fall are the best times to visit Marrakech to enjoy temperatures of between 68 F and 77 F during the day, dropping to around 50 F at night. Avoid July and August, when daily temperatures in Marrakech climb to 96 F or higher, making it feel stiflingly hot. In contrast, winter daily highs in the city average around 66 F, although bear in mind that this drops to closer to 44 F at night, which is a factor if you’re staying in one of the many less expensive hotels with no heating.


Cultural Festivals:-

Marrakech can be a lure in July and December. In December, the Marrakech International Film Festival screens films from other parts of the world alongside some filmed in Morocco. In this Fastival catch a glimpse of a visiting celebrity -- American actor John Malkovich chaired 2011’s festival jury. The Marrakech Popular Arts Festival takes place each July with acrobats, fire-swallowers, dancers and musicians from across the county performing in the streets.

Marrakech is clearly a large city divided into old quarters – the Medina – and the new town – Guéliz.

The focus of the whole city is Djemaa el Fna, a large open space full of entertainers and food sellers at the heart of the Medina. Along the alleyways adjacent to Djemaa el Fna, lie some of the most remarkable landmarks of Marrakech. North of Djemaa el Fna are the souks and the Sidi Ben Youssef Mosque, the main mosque after the Koutoubia. South of Djemaa el Fna, you have the Saadian Tombs and an area full of palaces and the ethnographic museum Maison Tiskiwine.

Another popular sight in Marrakech is the tour of the many gardens. These include the Jardin Majorelle, near Bab Doukkala, the Ménara, a large pool set in a large olive grove and the Agdal, another pleasant olive grove. Across the Oued Issil to the northeast of Marrakech, lies the Palmery dotted with oases.

Djemaa el Fna, Marrakech, Morocco:-
Djemaa el Fna: The most famous landmark in Marrakech, where large crowds gather to watch groups of acrobats, drummers, snake charmers, story tellers, dancers and many other performers.
Djemaa el Fna is the most famous landmark in Marrakech, a place sure to involve you so effortlessly you will come back again and again.It is an open space in the heart of the city where a long-established ritual takes place. Large crowds of onlookers – both locals and tourists – gather around to mingle together and watch groups of acrobats, drummers, snake charmers, story tellers, dancer, comedians and fairground acts.

Koutoubia, Marrakech, Morocco:-
The Koutoubia: A seventy metres Almohad tower that dominates the Marrakech skyline, rising from the low-rise buildings of the old town and the plains of the north.The Koutoubia is to Marrakech what the Statue of Liberty is to New York and the Eiffel Tower is to Paris.Nearly seventy metres in height and visible for miles afar, the Koutoubia is a landmark that dominates the whole of Marrakech, rising from the low-rise buildings of the old town and the plains of the north.Originally built by the early Almohads, this is the oldest and most complete of three great Almohad towers – the other two are the Hassan Tower in Rabat and the Giralda in Seville.

Marrakech Souks, Marrakech, Morocco:-
Marrakech Souks: Vast, colourful and varied, with small squares devoted to specific crafts and products.The souks of Marrakech stretch immediately after Djemaa el Fna, along Rue Souk Smarine, a long, covered street. At the end of this street are two lanes: Souk el Kbir and Souk el Attarin – Follow the alleyways and you will discover small squares devoted to specific crafts and products.
The best times to visit the souks is in the early mornings (6:00 to 8:00) or late afternoons (16:00 to 17:00) as goods are more amenable to bargaining at the end of the day.

Almoravid Koubba, Marrakech, Morocco:-
Almoravid Koubba: The only Almoravid structure still standing in Morocco, with a design that is at the root of all Moroccan architecture.Opposite the Ben Youssef Mosque, on the southern side of Place de la Kissaria, is the Almoravid Koubba.At first glance, it looks a very simple building with variously shaped doors and windows. With a closer look, you will understand the significance and fascination of this monument, for it is the only Almoravid building still standing intact in Morocco!The Almoravid Koubba is open daily from 9:00 – 13:00 and 14:30 – 18:00. Admission fee is 10dh.

Marrakech Museum, Marrakech, Morocco:
The Marrakech Museum: A magnificient late nineteenth-century palace that houses traditional and contemporary exhibitions of Moroccan art and sculpture.The Marrakech Museum is housed in a magnificent late-nineteenth century palace, Dar Mnebbi, on the west side of Place de la Kissaria.
The palace was originally built by Mehdi Mnebbi (1894-1908), Moroccan ambassador to London. It was then bought by T’Hami el Glaoui, the famous Pasha of Marrakech during the French protectorate. Restored in 1997, it houses today both traditional and contemporary exhibitions of Moroccan arts and sculpture.The Marrakech Museum is open daily from 9:30 – 18:00. Admission fee is 30dh.

Marrakech Tanneries, Marrakech, Morocco:
Marrakech Tanneries: Similar to the more famous ones in Fez, a traditional process of tanning and drying skin.At the edge of the Medina, by Bab Debbagh are the tanneries where you can observe the process of tanning and drying skin.The process involves tanners treading and rinsing skin in large vats of dye and pigeon dung, while other artisans scrap and stretch the skins to dry. The tanneries are very similar to the ones in Fez, although they are more scattered making it less of an interesting experience.The best time to visit is in the mornings, when there is most activity. To get a good view of the proceedings, use of one the shops with terraces overlooking the tanneries.

Saadian Tombs, Marrakech, Morocco:
Saadian Tombs: The original burial place of Saadian princes, lavishly decorated in the great artistry of the time.Long-hidden from intrusive eyes, the Saadian Tombs is another great landmark of Marrakech only rediscovered in the early 20th century.The tombs are the original burial place of the Saadian princes, most notably Sultan Ahmed el Mansour.The tombs are lavishly decorated, conveying the opulence and great artistry of this important period in Moroccan history.

El Badi Palace, Marrakech, Morocco:
El Badi Palace: Although mostly in ruins, enough remains of El Badi to suggest its former grandeur and why it is the most famous palace in Marrakech.The most famous palace in Marrakech is El Badi Palace (or Palais el Badi), south of Djemaa el Fna. Its name “El Badi” literally means “The Incomparable” – in comparable in its luxury and grandeur and reputed as one of the most beautiful palaces in the world.Built by Ahmed Al Mansour between 1578 and 1602, the Palace did not escape the plundering hand of Sultan Moulay Ismail who spent a further 10 years stripping the palace of everything moveable!Although it stands today substantially in ruins, enough remains of El Badi to suggest its former grandeur. The size of its pool and sunken gardens give an impression of its incomparable scale and the traces of tile and plaster evoke a dazzling and exhaustive decoration.

The Mellah, Marrakech, Morocco:
The Mellah: The Jewish quarter in Marrakech, distinct from the rest of the Medina and with many important Jewish landmarks. Here, the Jewish Cemetry in the Mellah.
The Mellah, east of the Medina, used to be the Jewish quarters in Marrakech. It was here that sultan Abdullah Al-Ghalib moved the Jews to his protected Kasbah in 1558.The royal family appreciated the talents of the Jewish community of traders, jewellers and bankers who spoke many languages. This protected quarter was surrounded by walls and entered by two gates. The Mellah looks distinctly different from the rest of the Medina, almost a town in itself – supervised by rabbis, with its own souks, gardens and synagogues.

Bahia Palace, Marrakech, Morocco:

Bahia Palace: The "Brilliant", a magnificient palace featuring elaborate reception halls, pleasure gardens, living quarters and numerous secluded courtyards.The Bahia Palace, the “Brilliant”, is the perfect antidote to the simplicity of the nearby Al Badi Palace.Originally built in 1867 by Si Moussa, a grand vizier of Moulay Hassan, it was enlarged by his son Bou Ahmed, who added a mosque, a hammam and a garden.The Bahia Palace is open daily from 9:00 t 15:00. Admission fee is 10dh.

Maison Tiskiwin, Marrakech, Morocco:
Maison Tiskiwin: A beautiful early twentieth-century townhouse dedicated to the African roots of Morocco - with artefacts, fabrics, jewellery and clothes from the Sahara.Maison Tiskiwin, a beautiful early twentieth-century townhouse between the Bahia and Dar Si Said, is the house of Bert Flint. Bert, a Dutch anthropologist and long-time resident of Morocco, has opened his house where he still lives and works as a museum dedicated to the African roots of Morocco.Maison Tiskiwin has a unique collection of Moroccan and Saharan artefacts, based on a journey from Marrakech to Timbuktu and back. Different rooms feature carpets, fabrics, jewellery and clothes arranged by area or tribe of the Sahara.Maison Tiskiwin is open daily from 10 – 12:30 & 15:00 – 18:00. Admission fee is 15dh.

Dar Si Said, Marrakech, Morocco:
Dar Si Said: A museum housing an important collection of Moroccan arts from different regions of the country.Further to the north of the Bahia Palace is a pleasurable building, Dar Si Said, housing an impressive Museum of Moroccan Arts.The Museum houses an important collection of Moroccan arts, including jewellery from the Anti Atlas, an impressive eighteenth and nineteenth-century woodwork collection, Berber carpets from the High Atlas, pottery from Safi and Tamegroute and leatherwork from Marrakech.The most important exhibit in the Museum is a marble basin dating back to the 10th century, brought to Marrakech from Cordoba by the Almohad Sultan Ali Ben Youssef.Dar Si Said is open daily from 9:00 – 12:00 & 15:00 – 18:00. Admission fee is 20dh.

The Gardens:
With the hustle and bustle of the souks of the Medina, and the afternoon heat reaching temperatures of 38 C, at least part of your day in Marrakech should be devoted to total inactivity. A good place to get a cool and peaceful break is in one of the many gardens in the city.The main gardens in Marrakech are the Agdal and Menara, stretching through acres of orchards and olive groves with an immense pool of water. Other smaller gardens include the Majorelle, the gardens of the famed Mamounia Hotel and the palmery, which will give you a taster of the southern oases.

Agdal Gardens, Marrakech, Morocco:-

Agdal Gardens: A large expanse surrounded by walls with gates, with small irrigation pools and apricot, lemon, fig and pomegrenate orchards and olive groves at its heart.The Agdal Gardens is located just south of the Royal Palace and Mellah. If you walk out here, it is around 3 kilometres from Jemaa el Fna.The main series of pools at the heart of the Agdal include Sahraj el Hanna, flanked by a summer pavilion used by sultans for picnics and boating trips. From its roof, you can enjoy a panoramic view over the garden, Koutoubia and the Atlas.The Agdal Gardens are open on Fridays and Sundays only from 8:00 to 17:00. Admission is free.

Menara Gardens, Marrakech, Morocco:
Menara Gardens: Very popular with locals for picnics and tourists for its postcard-like image: a central pool and summer pavilions with a panoramic view over the Atlas Mountains.
The Menara Gardens are similar to the Agdal, but a lot smaller with just one central basin and more olive groves than orchards. The gardens are easier to get to: just follow the Avenue de la Menara from Beb Djedid.The Menara is very popular with locals for picnics and tourists for its postcard-like image: its central pool and summer pavilions with a good view over the Atlas Mountains are a familiar picture on many postcards and brochures.The Menara Gardens are open daily from 8:00 to 18:00. Admission is free.

Jardin Majorelle, Marrakech, Morocco:
Jardin Majorelle: A meticulously planned botanical garden, conveying both tranquility and strong colour.
The Majorelle Garden is a small, meticulously planned botanical garden just off Avenue Yacob alMansour. The garden bears the name of its creator in the 1920s, French painter Jacques Majorelle.
Today, the Majorelle is maintained by fashion designer Yves Saint Lauren. It conveys both tranquillity and strong colour. The keynote colour on buildings, a vivid cobalt blue, offsets the multicoloured bougainvillea, pink geranium and orange nasturtiums. Bulbs sing in the bamboo thickets and flit among the leaves of the date palms.A green-roofed garden pavilion, the former studio of Majorelle, is the Museum of Islamic Arts. It exhibits the personal collection of Yves Saint Laurent, including North African carpets, furniture and pottery, as well as Jacques Majorelle’s paintings and engravings of local scenes in Morocco.The Majorelle Gardens are open daily to visitors.

Each night in the Djemaa El-Fna rows of street stalls are set up under giant white tents. These huts serve similar fare and have menus printed in French, Arabic and usually English. Everyone has tajine, couscous, brochette and some variety of soups. Some have specialities like offal, egg sandwiches or special tajines. Be aware that most restaurants employ rather insistent "greeters," who are very aggressive in trying to customers for their stall. The line 'we already ate' seems to work well to get them to stop.

 Resturants in Marrakech :

Cafe Alhamra, Pl. Djemaa El-Fna:, opposite Café de France. . On the edge of the square, it serves up salads, pizza, and pasta as well as a tagine of the day. Their rooftop is a good place to have a late night coffee and pastry while watching the events in the square below.

Cafe Mabrouk (off Djemaa El-Fna): serves the same standard fare as everywhere else in a little courtyard or terrace.

Chez Chegrouni, near the main entrance to the market. Maybe the best cheap restaurant in the square. Their vegetarian couscous (Dh 30) is supposedly the only true vegetarian couscous in town; it's also bland but they give you plenty of it. Prices go up if you sit on the terrace. Usually packed full of good-time tourists.

Cafe Arabe, 184 mouassine (medina near dar el bacha), . is in the medina. They have a Moroccan and an Italian cook, so there are two menus to choose from. There is beautiful seating on three floors including the downstairs courtyard which is lovely for lunch. The top floor terrace has fantastic views over the medina and is great at sunset. You can lounge on their sofas whilst sipping a cocktail or glass of wine and watching the sun go down over the medina.

Chez El Bahia: is 50m away from Djemaa El-Fna on Rue Riad Zitoune (the street that starts at Wafa Restaurant). It has excellent and well priced food in a quiet place. Try the chicken and olives tajine as well as the prune, almonds, and mutton tajine for about Dh 45 each. Also try the Moroccan salad while they cook the rest of the food.

Chez Yassine:  is 5 mn north from the Koutoubia mosque, 70 Rue Fatima Zohra Rmila (next to the Bacha hamam). Not much choice but excellent food at rock-bottom prices, served by very friendly people. Tajines (Dh 28) and pizzas (Dh 20-35) are great and you can also order skewers that are not on the menu.

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