Although Essaouira has long held a reputation for being an arty kind of town and has many artists in residence and galleries to prove it, the street art scene here has taken some time to develop. Unlike Asilah – a bohemian port town further north up the Atlantic coast – Essaouira has not made a concerted effort to develop such a scene. Asilah, although about a third of the size of Essaouira, and even sleepier, is known for its annual mural festival. Although there are some murals in Essaouira, these are typically individual initiatives and not part of a larger programme. This is all about to change, as the 6th Marrakech Biennale lands in town with street art in Essaouira! Continue reading
The setting was magical: a modern rig of a stage placed at one end of the massive cortyard at the centre of the 16th century El Badi Palace in Marrakech. As the sun began to set, the heat of the day lifted and hundreds of candles set in lanterns around the place began to twinkle. The famous storks of the Kasbah (King’s Quarters) returned to roost on the crumbling ochre walls to watch the scene unfold. We were here to experience the magic – not only of Marrakech, but of one of jazz’s greatest legends, Herbie Hancock. Continue reading
“Looking at the world through the sunset in your eyes
Travelling the train through clear Moroccan skies….
Sweeping cobwebs from the edges of my mind
Had to get away to see what we could find…”
Read my post for Travel Exploration about the origins of those famous lyrics and the Swinging Sixties in Marrakech here.
The Marrakech International Film Festival 2014 began on Friday 5 December. As well as the main competition category, the festival also features tribute categories. This year’s personal homages are to actors Jeremy Irons (UK), Viggo Mortensen (US) and Adel Iman (Egypt) plus two of Morocco’s most prolific producers, Khadija Alami and Zakaria Alaoui.
Morocco is a sought-after location for films. The Atlas Film Studios in Ouarzarzate are one of the world’s largest. The combined filmography of these two producers includes almost every movie ever made in Morocco. Between them, they have worked on dozens of TV and feature film productions including movie series such as James Bond, Mission Impossible and Jason Bourne. The new James Bond film, Spectre, will be filmed here in 2015.
A recent series of celebrity weddings and honeymoons have put Marrakech on the romantic map. (What is the collective noun for such occasions? A vow of betrothals? A flutter of honeymoons? A flounce of weddings?). Romantic holidays in Morocco are a big growth area and Morocco has a whole lot more to offer couples and honeymooners beyond the walls of the Red City. Check out my lowdown on the desert, the mountains, the coast and the medinas for couples.
This post was written for Journey Beyond Travel and is available (to internet users outside Morocco) here.
I am a big film fan and I love to get my annual dose of big screen entertainment at the Marrakech International Film Festival. 2014 will be my 3rd year. Read my reviews of films in 2012 and 2013 on the maroc-o-phile blog.
The Marrakech International Film Festival is now in its 14th year. In 2014, it will run from 5-13 December. Although not as high-profile as some of the European film festivals such as Cannes or the Berlinale, Marrakech offers a great opportunity to catch new international and art house films as well as retrospectives and back catalogues. This year, expect to see L’Orchestre des Aveugles, a Moroccan feature, in the competition. Also showing are the drama about Stephen Hawking, The Theory of Everything and A Most Violent Year, J.C. Chandor’s film about crime and corruption in New York City. The open air screen on Place Jmaa el Fna will show the latest Shah Rukh Khan Bollywood epic, Happy New Year and there will also be homages to Japanese cinema, Moroccan producers, Jeremy Irons and Viggo Mortensen. The jury is presided this year by French actress, Isabelle Huppert. Entry to the films is free with a public pass available in advance via the festival website. Read my preview of the 2014 festival here.
So, there is no shortage of big screen entertainment. But what about between films? Where are the best places for chilling out, posting your snaps of stars on social media, reading reviews and grabbing a coffee on the go? Fortunately, the Palais de Congrès is right in the middle of a hub of café culture in Marrakech’s Hivernage district.
Canadian maroc-o-phile Mandy Sinclair is Marrakech-based blogger MandyinMorocco. She came to Morocco for the first time on holiday and promptly went back to Canada, sold her stuff and came back to live. She has now lived in Morocco for 4 years and blogs about her life on Why Morocco? A social media fanatic and PR expert, Mandy has just set up her own communications agency and Marrakech food tours.
MoP: Mandy, what first brought you to Morocco and why?
After watching the film Hideous Kinky in 1999 while in Australia, I knew I had to travel to Morocco. So I arrived in June 2010 for a three-week holiday. Within four days, in Fes, I knew I was going to come back for a longer-term stay. I just didn’t think that I would still be here nearly four years later.