The Gnaoua and World Music Festival of Essaouira is a cultural event of the first order in a spirit of brotherhood and tolerance of peoples and cultures.


The Gnaoua and World Music Festival, or as it is said by its fans, is called the Moroccan Woodstock Fest because it attracts multi-ethnic and gendered audiences. The festival is not limited to gnawi art but includes all the old musical forms of blues, jazz, flamenco and reggae….gnaoua festival its a festival of tolerance and rapprochement between different religions and cultures…

On June 20 – 23 GNAOUA & WORLD MUSIC FESTIVAL returned to ESSAOUIRA CITY for  22th edition anniversary celebrations. More than plus 500.000 festival-goers enjoyed four days of amazing music of Gnaoua  and culture from  international, regional and local artists. The festival took a lot of  place in ESSAOUIRA (Place Moulay Hassan)  and  set on a wide expanse of rolling golden sands in the scene near the sea, Even without being a Gnaoua adept, in that far more intimate atmosphere, the hypnotic beat of the Qraqebs (metal castanet-like instruments) and tambours (drums); the rhythmic bass of the Guembri, and the flowing melodic chants lend the music a power that reaches somewhere deep inside me, and I begin to see how it can induce trances, Gnaoua music is a combination of acrobatic dancing as well as music. Its origins lie in a unique mixture of Berber, African and Arabic songs, religious rites and dance.

The greatest maâlems and renowned artists will play the game and share with generosity, sincerity and energy moments of musical exploration unpublished and daring.

The audience gnaoui  was an opportunity to see both the brightly-colored, energetic spectacle of Gnaoua groups performing on large open-air stages (on Place Moulay Hassan and near the beach) as well as at more intimate concerts which simulate some of the atmosphere of a lila in smaller venues such as Dar Souiri or a Zawiya. The best venue for the late night, smaller, concerts is the Borj Bab Marrakech with the magical place.

Laying on rugs and cushions under the stars, within earshot of the waves crashing on the beach and with seagulls calling and swooping overhead, a special atmosphere is created for some of the best known artists on the program is huge and creamy.

This festival has known a variety and a fascinating mixture, from Gnaoua to fusion , Jazz to Reggae, Tuareg ,Cuban,flamenco, and of course the tagnaouite with the the Masters of Gnaoua , an a lot of bands exciting and eclectic selection of world class and emerging musical acts graced the festival’s mixed performance areas.  Over 50 artists spanning a lot of nationalities took to the stages, with homegrown local talent playing alongside established international names including global world music giants Major Maalam Hamid El Kasri and Moroccan superstars Maalam Hassan Hakmoun & The Universal Force , Tinariwen, Maalam Omar Hayat, Osain Del Monte, Jorge Pardo, Maria Del Mar Moreno and Nabyla Maan, Third World, Moh Kouyate, Imdiawn, Baloji, Betweenatna…Alongside the music were interactive talks, Human Rights Forum, traditional dance, theatre and art, festival workshops, exhibition of the 2019 festival…

One of the advantages of this festival was its atmosphere was fictional, Visitors, festivalgoers and performers sleep under the stars or in unique riads. Everything is designed to encourage harmony and bonding. The festival gives pride of place to gnawa music. Get to know this ancestral music played by master musicians called Maalem. Their music rises and pierces your body and mind to soothe the soul. With world music, traditional music and scenery that will take your breath away, your stay in these sun-drenched climes will be pure pleasure.

Maalam Hamid El Kasri 

Maâlem Hamid El Kasri & Susheela Raman (Fusion)


Susheela Raman

Maalam Hassan Hakmoun & The Universal Force


Third World

Maâlem Mustapha Baqbou


Maâlem Mustapha Baqbou & Tinariwen (Fusion)


Maalam Omar Hayat


Residence Maâlem Hassan Boussou

blankMaâlem Abderrazak El Hader


Moh Kouyaté & Maalam Omar Hayat (Fusion)


Residence Maâlem Hassan Boussou  & Osain Del Monte (Fusion)


Osain Del Monteblank


Thank you Gnaoua and World Music Festival, we will see you next year.

Photography by: Zakaria Latouri, Siham Moukhles, Fatim Ezzahra Khilad, Yassine Atir, and Mohamed Tawi.