Gnaoua and World Music Festival

The Gnaoua and World Music Festival is an annual event that is held in Essaouira, in Morocco. It is an event that the entire family will enjoy, and is known to be a friendly, festive and relaxed extravaganza of music, culture, entertainment and dance. Essaouira is located approximately a hundred and fifty kilometers outside Marrakech and this year, the Gnaoua and World Music Festival will be held between the 26th and 28th of June 2008. It is where local and international musicians and genres meet to create a festival that is unique in sound and vibrant in atmosphere.

The festival is famous for its fascinating mix of music, and it gives musicians from all over the world the opportunity to add their instruments, vocals and vision to a jam session with Gnaoua musicians on stage. Combining Gnaoua with other genres, such as rock, jazz and contemporary, provides audiences with music that they will not likely hear anywhere else.

Gnaoua music is an amalgamation of Arabic, African and Berber rhythms and beats that is used either in prayer or celebration. It is a form of music that is generally practiced mostly in Morocco and Algeria, and is accompanied by dancing. With Gnaoua music being played at the Gnaoua and World Music Festival, musicians direct their music to express therapeutic and easy listening songs with a minimal hint of religion. And by inviting other musicians to join them on stage, bringing everything from blues and reggae to hip-hop to the session, audiences feel as if they are watching a group of friends get together to enjoy each other’s talent and skill. Musicians and artists like Paulo Fresu, Randy Weston, Pharoah Sanders, The Wailers and Keziah Jones, have all graced the stage with the Gnaoua musicians.

All shows at the Gnaoua and World Music Festival are free of charge, and audience numbers have grown over the years to approximately two hundred thousand. Being named as one of the best jam session events in the world, many international visitors have started traveling to Morocco to attend the festival. The first ever Gnaoua and World Music Festival was held in 1998, and since its inception it has gone from strength to strength. Its unusual collaboration of sound and artists appeals to a wide age group and clusters of friends and family members often attend the festival together. Finding a festival that promotes relaxation, while creating an energetic vibe is a truly rare and exceptional event. No audience member has ever walked away from this festival disappointed.