Knowing when to be in Morocco is part of the fun of booking your trip. There are a number of Muslim and national festivals held throughout the year, and when you travel to Morocco, you may want to consider booking your vacation in conjunction with one of these events. In fact, almost every month of the year features at least one festival you can attend. The festivals are based on the lunar calendar rather than the western calendar so you will need to check with the Morocco tourism board before you book your flight if there is a specific festival you want to see.
In January, there are two festivals: New Years Day and Independence Celebration. New Years Day is a western celebration not unlike many held around the world. Independence Celebration is secular and is only one of five held throughout the year.
February is the celebration of Tafraoute and Aid Al Adha. Tafraoute celebrates the end of the winter rains found in the lower elevations of Morocco. The rains are helpful to the crops, but Moroccans also feel a celebration for the upcoming season is necessary. Aid Al Adha or A'd el-Khebir is a commemoration festival of Abraham's sacrifice. This festival is fun to watch, but you will not be able to participate in much of it.
March and April have four celebrations: Beni Mellal, Fatih Mouharam, Ashura, and Aid el Arch. Beni Mellal celebrates the cotton harvest. Fatih Mouharam is the Islamic new year celebration. Ashura is a day of tithing celebrated by certain local groups only. Aid el Arch is a celebration to honor the coronation of King Mohammed VI.
If you visit Morocco in May, expect to find Moulay Bousselham, Berkane, El Kelia des Mgouna, Labor Day, Id el Mouloud, and Ben Aissa Moussem festivals. El Kelia des Mgouna is also known as the Rose Festival and is held to celebrate the new crops. It is one of the most popular celebrations that Westerners enjoy attending.
June is the month of the Music Festival, Independence Day, Goulimine, Tan Tan and Gnaoua Festival. The Music Festival is held in Fez, and hundreds of musicians from around the world come to celebrate music and different musical traditions. It is a sharing of cultures and traditions, and visitors leave with a new understanding of what music is in other parts of the world.
July festivals include Marrakesh Popular Arts Festival, Tetouan, Sefrou Cherry Harvest, Al Hoceima Sea Harvest, and Celebration of the Throne. Marrakesh Popular Arts Festival depicts traditional Moroccan folklore through performances, theater, music and other art forms.
The Asilah Arts Festival, Celebration of the Young, Setti Fatma, Sefrou Moussem, El Jadida, Tiznit, Immouzeer du Kandar, and Immouzer des Ida Outanane festivals are held in August. Many of these festivals are popular celebrations of Moussem.
Chechaouen and Moulay Idriss Zerhoun host their Mouseem Festivals in September. September is also when Imichil is held; this marriage festival is held in the Atlas Mountains. It offers traditional marriage customs and costumes for visitors to enjoy.
September has only one festival called the Date Festival, which is held in Erfoud. November marks Ramadan, Independence Day, Eid al Fitr, and the Harvest Festival of Erfoud. December holds Rafsae and Hajj Day. Not all of these festivals are popular among Western visitors; however, if you are there when one of these festivals is occurring, you will likely encounter music, fireworks, costumes and other traditions. Any religious festivals should not be interrupted, but observed quietly.