Over time, the World Sacred Music Festival of Fes is becoming one of the best of its kind in the world. A must for lovers of music, spirituality, and the variety and richness of their expressions around the globe, this festival brings together, every year, some of the most revered artists of world music nowadays. For a week, performances, conferences, and workshops take place all over the city—in theaters and gardens, near the ancient walls of the Medina, in Riads and small cafés, everywhere—for the benefit of thousands of people, locals and foreigners alike, who immerse themselves in the magic of music… in a living medieval city that is not lacking in charm by itself, precisely. This is the week when Fes becomes again what it was, unrivaled, during centuries: a center of learning, knowledge, and spirituality; and one of the landmarks of mankind’s longing for beauty and poetry.
This year the festival will take place from the 12th to the 20th May and artists are already confirmed to perform. The festival has become very popular and accommodation in the city for these dates must be booked well in advance.
Just five days after the Fes festival comes to an end, the beautiful coastal town of Essaouira takes its turn and holds the new edition of its Gnaoua Festival – an event that was first born to promote the popular music and arts of this ethnic group, only to become with time a celebration of fusion and friendship between all races and cultures, and a platform for dialogue between Gnaoua music and styles as diverse as jazz, blues, reggae, pop, rock, and other world musical expressions. Guitarist Louis Bertignac has defined it as ‘the top jam session on the planet’.
(The Gnaoua, descendants of black slaves brought to Morocco by the Arabs centuries ago, practice a syncretism of classical Islamic Sufism with pre-Islamic African traditions, whether local or sub-Saharan, and their hypnotic music and acrobatic performances – thought to possess curative powers by Moroccans – were a source of inspiration to legends such as Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, or The Rolling Stones).
As it is the case with Fes, accommodation in Essaouira must be secured well in advance for the dates of the festival, as it attracts thousands of locals and foreigners coming over to enjoy the festive and sensual ambiance which takes hold of the town, as well as its wonderful beaches and the inexpensive and delicious fresh fish which is cooked right in front of you in the stalls of the port. For further information on this Festival, please visit http://www.festival-gnaoua.net/en/accueil
Both the World Sacred Music Festival in Fes and the Gnaoua Festival in Essaouira offer a wonderful chance to know Morocco at its best and most festive mood, and for those with the looking for arty, bohemian, or just look for authenticity, will surely appreciate the suggestion… Please do not hesitate to let us know if you would like us to create a trip for you including all or part of any of these festivals.