Morocco Music Guide
The Moroccan music scene is more reserved for private parties than for public and ticketed shows, in comparison with those in Egypt.
Actually, it is very difficult to find publicly available information on concerts and shows, and hotel concierges typically do not know much except really big and well-publicized international music festivals.
Belly dancing is not really accepted in respectable Moroccan society, and you will not see belly dancers except at some tourist places.
There are a few night clubs along the beach in the Ain Diab district, presenting Moroccan pop musicians. There may be Moroccan dancers called Shikhaat fully dressed in caftans. There is one Moroccan restaurant in the Corniche with live traditional music and belly dancers.
There are a few night clubs with live music along the beach in summer for Spanish tourists. The big international hotels' Moroccan restaurants have a small traditional music ensemble and a pair of dancers.
Fes & Marrakech
Moroccan restaurants in big hotels usually have a small Arab music ensemble. I did not see any belly dancers in Fes.
Recently, music festivals have become big business, where many different groups can make money (musicians, agents, stage rental companies, crews, hotels, government officials, etc.). There are fifty or so international performing art festivals nationwide happening mostly in summer.
There are two types of festivals that are accessible to foreign tourists:
International music festivals to attract foreign tourists
Local music festivals for the pleasure of the locals
International music festivals
Marrakech Festival of Folk Arts
| Essaouira Festival
|| Fes Sacred Music Festival. Photo: Kazko Kawai.
| Marrakech Festival of Folk Arts
Mid-July (5 days)
This is the oldest international festival in Morocco, which features music and dance of Imazigh (native Moroccans).
Please see this article for details.
Fes Sacred Music Festival
Early June (1 week)
This is still a very big tourist attraction. You have already seen, or will see main attractions by US and European presenters at home anyway. The best part may be the nightly free concerts for local and international Sufi music.
Essaouira Gnawa Festival
This is not well-known in the States, compared to its well-established reputation among European hippie types. Essaouira is also a well known destination for surfers.
Bring your sleeping bag and food as hotels run short of rooms and restaurants run short of food.
Timitar Festial in Agadir
Late June (4 days)
Agadir is a modern beach resort in the sourthern Morocco with many international hotels for Western tourists.
This festival mainly focus on folkloric music (real folkloric music plus Chaabi) as well as some international folkloric music.
Mawazine Festival in Rabat
Late May (about 10 days)
Rabat is the capital of Morocco - one hour by train to the north from Casablanca. It is pretty and low key compared to Casablanca.
Mawazine is a giant music festival with too many Moroccan and international artists – mostly pop music. It is literally impossible to see all the shows. This year's largets draw was Shakira – 1,000 Dirham (US$130) per ticket. The festival pass is only 3,000 Dirham (US$400) but this is prohibitively expensive for the local working class.
Mawazine Festival in Rabat
Local music festivals
It seems any city has a big music festival these days.
Free beach and city plaza concerts.
Casablanca – Casablanca Music Festival