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06/21/2018 - 12:00pm to 06/24/2018 - 10:00pm

Visitors to Morocco's vibrant city of Marrakesh may want to plan their next stay for June to enjoy the incredible Gnaoua Festival that has been scheduled for June 21-24, 2018, in the nearby port city of Essaouira. This immensely popular event attracts a whopping 500,000 people and offers an abundance of live music along with arts and culture, and it's all beautifully designed to immerse those in attendance in the rich traditions, sounds and styles of north Africa. The entire city comes alive for this incredible festival, and visitors may expect to experience something wonderful in the city squares, at the docks, along the main streets and at excellent venues throughout Essaouira.

Festival Beginnings

The Gnaoua Festival was born in 1998 as a way to celebrate the musical and ancestral contributions of the Gnaoua people who were once slaves. The festival embraces the folkloric music and traditions of those times, and the music itself was once used to heal those who were thought to be possessed by spirits.

Incredible Performances

From its early beginnings, the Gnaoua Festival has grown by leaps and bounds because so many people are interested in contributing their talents. In addition to the traditional music, those in attendance may expect to enjoy a fusion of music that includes soul, reggae, contemporary funk, jazz, hip-hop and blues. While the 2018 lineup has not yet been released, 2017 brought out nearly 50 amazing performers. Many are expected back this year, and these are just a few of the most popular.Traditionally Dressed Water Sellers in Morocco

  • Hindi Zahra
  • Carlinhos Brown
  • Bill Laurance
  • Lucky Peterson
  • Ribab Fusion
  • Marsa Band
  • Band of Gnawa
  • Ray Lema
  • Omri Mor
  • Houssam Guinea

More Ways to Enjoy the Festival

While the main performances are the center point of the entire festival, there are always a lot of fun and interesting activities going on at the same time. These are just a few things that you may expect to enjoy.

  • Arabic Nights: If you're still up and running at the midnight hour, then you'll definitely want to check this out. Held each night, this performance is aimed at communicating with the spirits by way of costuming, incense, music, dance and song, and it often runs well into the night.
  • Discussion Tree: A wonderful opportunity to meet your favorite Gnaoua artists, this is usually held each evening before the main performances. You're welcome to sit down to a cup of tea or coffee and ask any questions that you may have.
  • Art Extravaganza: During this festival, the Gnaoua traditions are found around every corner, and you'll see some amazing art exhibitions as you explore. Free lectures also pop up randomly that are open to anyone who cares to learn a bit more about the origins of the festival.

Reserve Your Tickets Today

Though tickets are not yet available for the 2018 Gnaoua Festival, those lodging with us here at Exceptional Stays may count on our dedicated concierge team to lock in your tickets the moment that they become available. Just let us know that you're interested in this event when you reserve your preferred vacation rental.