Festival Gnawa of Essaouira city, Morocco

I know, i know. It’s been a long time since I’ve been here, but i had so many things going on. As an apology, I’ll be more active than ever on Livingsimplyy for now on. Pinky promise.

“Each year, the beautiful city of Mogador devotes its maze of streets, lovely beaches, and vibrant public squares to music. In just a few years the city has become Morocco’s answer to Woodstock.”

Official Gnawa festival website.


So the post of today is about one of the first festival i’ve been to in my life, and the one i cherish the most. I remember being half as tall as today when i first visited Mogador city, the hippies, the lights, the sounds, the food… everything fascinated me. And a decade later, it still fascinates me as much. I can’t talk about the festival before giving you a brief picture of the city of Essaouira first. Imagine a beautiful port town full of story, all white and blue, very small and windy, full of hippies, gnawis, surfers and artists. Did i mention that the city is known for its fine hash and marijuana ? I shouldn’t mention it, so i’m not going to (tehee). Essaouira is just heaven for hippies, travellers and artists from all around the world (including me) for all its diversity and history. The city has been the homeland of Gnawi culture for decades thanks to the african, berber and arab cultures, african slaves first introduced Gnawa style and music as a spiritual quest and lifestyle. Almost a religion, Gnawa movement shaped the city, and still shapes it nowadays in a peace and love atmosphere you can only find in there. The Essaouiri vibe is just overwhelming, people just fall in love with its charm. It’s the kind of city that moves you, that inspires you, that makes you feel at home at the get go. Being yourself never made more sense than in Essaouira, as people there are careless, open-minded and genuine ( or maybe it’s because they’re all high, who knows?).


To me, the festival of Essaouira is one of the highlights of the year, i’m used to going there every summer to put myself in the mood of relaxation, artistic and cultural exchange and to experience everything the city has to offer. I had late finals this year, which meant not being able to visit, but my heart and soul were with the concerts of my favourite Maalmins (a maalam is a gnawi artist and musician) and artists from all around the globe. This year’s program was amazing: the one and only Ibrahim Maalouf and the incredible Marcus Miller (who i both admire so much) were there, along with Ayo, Derdba, Didier Lockwood, Mario Cononge, Meta & the cornerstones, Foulan…. and so many others. All the descriptions can’t give credit to the amazing city of Essaouira, i guess you’ll have to experience it and judge.

Have you heard of the festival before? If not, what are the festivals you’re going to this summer, or the ones that inspired you the most? Feel free to comment and share. Have a great weekend.


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