Robert Harding World Imagery / Alamy
Maryam Montague
December 26, 2014

Ah….festivals.  Marrakesh has plenty of them.  Now don’t be thinking Woodstock (although—minus the flower crowns—there is plenty of bohemian culture in this city).  But rather think a diversity of major events and activities that celebrate the arts and culture of Morocco and beyond. From the classy Marrakesh International Film Festival which has drawn an international crowd for the past 14 years, to the more urban adrenaline-charged Marrakesh street race (that shuts down parts of the city for days).  So before you book your tickets and pack your bags for the Red City, check out what might be happening in the way of cool events and festivals.  It will make your visit that much more interesting and memorable. 

Here are five great events that will give you the chance to explore a dynamic edge of Marrakesh, partake in some exhilarating entertainment, and meet some fascinating people.  What could be better?

Marrakesh International Film Festival

This is one of the most important film festivals in Africa, with a jury made up of international actors and personalities, including the likes of Martin Scorsese and Susan Sarandon. The city’s central square, the Jemma el Fnaa, is transformed into an open-air cinema. Foreign visitors can enter the festival for free, by registering online.

Marrakesh Biennale

Taking place every two years, and spearheaded by Vanessa Branson (of the overly DNA endowed Branson family), this event brings artists from all over the world to share their work. Numerous conferences, interactive events, and exhibitions (visual art, literature, and performance art) are held around the city. 

Marrakesh Popular Arts Festival

Anyone who wants to see the best of what Morocco has to offer shouldn’t miss this traditional festival with its Berber music, folk dancers and street performers from all around Morocco.   Held in the beautiful ruins of the Badi Palace, it’s a crash course in tribal culture.  In a word: awesome.

FIA WTCC Race of Marrakesh

Interested in three days of car racing in Marrakesh? This race is just one round of the World Touring Car Championship but it’s the only one of its kind in Africa. With a car collection exhibition and 140 supercars racing in the streets of Marrakesh, this show offers a serious adrenaline rush. 

Sun Festival

For all you music lovers, this festival is for you. Featuring local and foreign musicians with varying styles, this event lasts five days with venues all around Marrakesh.  It’s an ideal chance to explore the city, listen to some great music, and ahem, shake your booty Marrakesh-style.

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