Essaouira hosts a festival that celebrates the mysterious music of the Gnaouas, brought to Morocco centuries ago via the African slave trade. The drums of the Gnaouas are the true soul of the festival, but as Summer Davis explains, it’s a musical melting pot of experiences…
“The Festival de Gnaoua et Musiques du Monde (Gnawa and World Music Festival) was without question my most amazing concert experience! The festival boasts non-stop performances from afternoon until after midnight on six separate stages and thousands flock to the charming seaside port for four days in June. People flood the streets, squares and cafes, filling in time between acts and wandering from gnaoua ritual performances to hypnotic trance music.
From Morocco’s top gnaoua maalems (masters) to America’s hottest jazz artists and the hippest DJs from Europe, attendees spiritualise to traditional African rhythms, groove to classy music and rock out tektonic-style, all for free. Thanks to the patronage of the Moroccan government and other major Moroccan sponsors, the Thursday-through-Sunday events cost you nothing to enjoy. Only private club parties and a few artist showcases require an entrance fee.
Enticing? If so, book your room or Intrepid trip way in advance, since hotels and apartments fill up quickly during festival season. Sleeping on the beach is no longer permitted but dancing on the beach is, and you’ll want to do precisely that when one of Essaouira’s local bands plays.
The festival flaunts Morocco’s talent and encourages creativity. Blending music with other performances results in wild and inspirational jam sessions. With music around every corner and every square a vibrant blend of local and international party-goers, what better reason to head south in Morocco’s sizzling summer!”
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* photo by Cate Frost – Intrepid Photography Competition