The cuisine of Morocco is becoming increasingly well-known abroad and a popular holiday activity is a cookery class where students can learn about the intricate blends of spices, the diverse influences on Moroccan cuisine and attempt to create their own culinary masterpieces. Over the past year, I have tried two cookery classes in Essaouira – one a well-established brand, the other a homely newcomer. I enjoyed both immensely, even though I could already make some key Moroccan dishes. If you want to do a cookery class in Essaouira, I recommend one of these two options. Continue reading →
I have been spending some time over winter in the UK, but this weekend, I head back to Essaouira for a few weeks. I hope to hand over a tidy sum of donations which I have collected through my crowdfunding campaign for Association Bayti, as well as check out some favourite old haunts and some exciting new openings in the city.
The Essaouira Gnaoua Festival is the largest of Essaouira’s annual music festivals and attracts artists and an audience from around the world. In 2015, the Gnaoua Festival will take place earlier than usual from 14-17 May 2015 (to avoid a clash with Ramadan).
The format of the festival is large open-air stages in 3 locations across the city, plus intimate concerts in smaller venues and a side programme of discussions around related themes (for example, this year’s Forum is on African Women). The four-day musical extravaganza is opened by a carnival parade of colour featuring the Gnaoua and Sufi groups playing in their traditional costumes playing their instruments and dancing, plus über-dimensional puppets which tower above the crowds.
The Essaouira Gnaoua Festival programme features something for everyone. It’s hard to choose between the local gnaoua acts and the invited World Music stars, but here is my pick of the best of the 2015 line-up: Continue reading →
The latest interviewee in the maroc-o-phile series, is UK-based blogger, Heather Cole, a.k.a. The Conversant Traveller. By day, Heather is an outdoor educational specialist, by night she’s a blogger and a part-time traveller. Heather writes the words for Conversant Traveller whilst her hubbie takes the pictures. Together they hope to inspire other independent travellers to see more of the world.
MoP: Hi, Heather. What makes you a maroc-o-phile?
Even if I wanted to, I wouldn’t be able to shake Morocco from beneath my skin (and that’s not just the Saharan sand stuck behind my toenails!). I first visited back in 2010, not expecting anything but another enjoyable trip to assign to the memory bank, but to my surprise, when I returned home I couldn’t stop thinking about the overwhelming sensory experience I’d just had. It took less than a week for hubbie and I to decide we’d soon make our very first return visit to a country ever. And we haven’t looked back!
MoP: You’ve been to Morocco 5 times in the last 4 years and you’re planning another trip for 2015. What is it that keeps drawing you back to Morocco?
I could wax lyrical about the friendliest most genuine people we’ve ever encountered, the superb cuisine and the endless landscape photography opportunities. I could enthuse about there always being new and exciting places to discover and the joy of returning to what are quickly becoming ‘old haunts’. Yet the underlying reason is that we feel so relaxed and at home in Morocco. It is one place we can truly unwind. Continue reading →
Photo: Musée Mohammed VI d’Art Moderne et Contemporain
After a critically-acclaimed run in Paris, the Medieval Morocco exhibition, which was part of the Parisian Moroccan Autumn, comes to Rabat. The exhibition features work spanning 5 centuries from when the Moorish influence was at its greatest. The artefacts have been assembled from the Iberian Peninsula as well as North and West Africa.
The exhibition is now on and runs until 1 June. If you are in Morocco over the next months, it’s not to be missed! Read my review here.
Morocco has become a major festival destination over the last years. 2015 looks like a bumper year. The way Ramadan has pushed some of the dates together means that on one trip, you could fit in even two festivals. From music to culture, from roses to rap, from modern pop music to sufis, from the trance of Gnaoua to the German classical composers, from Agadir to Rabat via Fes and Essaouira, there’s something for everyone! Check out my list of the best 2015 festivals in Morocco here.