Songlines Music Travel, in association with Imaginative Traveller, invites music lovers and travellers alike on this exceptional trip to the picturesque port town of Essaouria on Morocco's Atlantic coast. This trip will give you a unique insight into the music and heritage of this fascinating region, as well as giving you the opportunity to experience the extraordinary Gnawa and World Music Festival.
Accompanied by a Songlines Travel Leader, you will be guided through the festival, helping you to access the very best musical offerings from local and international artists and to experience heady late-night sessions in atmospheric venues.
Departing in 2019 - we currently don't have set dates for this tour but please contact us to register your interest.
Public & Private Transport
Hotel Accommodation on a twin share basis
• Get to know the vibrant, magical city of Marrakech
• Explore the desert, lakes, mountains and villages near Marrakech
• Discover the picturesque port town of Essaouria
• VIP tickets to the Gnawa Music Festival to experience the best local and international music
Unfortunately, there are no departures available for this adventure.
We are happy to assist you in finding the right adventure for you, you can either give us a call on +44 (0) 1728 862230, or send us an enquiry on our Contact Us page
Welcome to Morocco! You will arrive in Marrakech this morning where you will be met by our local representative and transferred to your hotel. In the early afternoon you will meet with the rest of your fellow travellers and embark on a guided tour of the city, taking in the beautiful old town. Visit the many attractions of this vibrant city including the Saadian tombs, the Bahia Palace, the Koutoubia Minaret and the famous Djemaa el-Fna square with its bustling souks and handicraft markets. That evening, enjoy a welcome dinner with the group as you all get to know one another.
Today there will be a day long excursion in private 4 x 4 vehicles out of the city and into the Agafay Desert, the Berber region to the south of Marrakech. On this off-road safari you will stop to take in the views of the stunning lake Lalla Takerkoust and the Kik Plateau. Visit the Asni village in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains and experience real rural life in the heart of the Berber countryside. The Berbers are an ethnic group indigenous to North Africa who live in scattered communities throughout Morocco. These ancient people are the descendants of the pre-Arab populations of North Africa. After this fascinating insight into this local culture, head back into the city for dinner.
After breakfast this morning, you will all congregate in the hotel before driving out towards the coast on your journey to Essaouira. The drive should take approximately three hours. Arriving just after lunch, you will have some time to explore the town. This is a city like no other, known as the ‘Wind City of Africa’ due to the strong winds that blow here, Essaouira is known for its laidback vibe, a good surfing scene and idyllic coastal serenity. It is no surprise that legend Jimi Hendrix called this place home on and off for a few years during Essaouira’s hippy heyday. Also known as the ‘Blue City’, this ancient Portuguese city used to be called Mogador. The city was built in the 17th century as a citadel by a French architect, the pupil of Vauban. It is known for its painters, local art scene, spice-scented alleyways and the palm-lined avenues of the fortified medina. Explore as much as you can before heading out that evening to sample the first evening of the 21st edition of the Gnawa and World Music Festival.
The next three days will be dedicated entirely to enjoying the Gnawa Festival. See how the town is completely taken over by music. The main stage is located on the Place Moulay Hassan, the central square, but there are several other stages scattered around the town and in the walled medina. You will have full access to the Festival to enjoy performances that run throughout the night. As well as enjoying the music, be sure to explore the fascinating backstreets of the medina, the ramparts of the old town, the fishing harbours and long beaches. Cram in as much music and sightseeing as you can!
Today is a full day at the festival. Known as the ‘African Woodstock’, this eclectic celebration is a melting pot for music, bringing together indigenous Gnawa or Gnaoua Musicians with renowned artists all over the world. The festival celebrates music’s purpose in the preservation of culture and heritage. A platform for experimentation, the music here is often improvised, especially at the hands of the Gnawa masters. The stages will showcase an enormous variety of styles as you expand your musical horizons.
After breakfast, head back out for the final day of the festival. Continue to indulge in this heady fusion of global music, celebrating freedom and creativity. The Gnawa music that this festival showcases is a North African repertoire of ancient African spiritual religious songs and rhythms. The Gnawa themselves are an ethnic group inhabiting both Morocco and Algeria in the Maghreb. Their music combines classical Islamic Sufism with pre-Islamic African traditions. Gnawas are known for playing deeply hypnotic trance music, featuring call-and-response singing, clapping, cymbals and low-toned, rhythmic sintir melodies. The combination of these traditions with internationally renowned musicians in this evocative city is an experience worth listening to.
You will leave Essaouira early this morning and head back to Marrakech. Here you will be transferred to the airport at an appropriate time for your flight home or your continuing travels in Morocco.
GROUP TOUR from £3490 for 12 days
GROUP TOUR from £1895 for 10 days
GROUP TOUR from £3625 for 14 days
“Everything was excellent. Having a priority pass for the gigs made a real difference. The festival itself was a knock-out. Hope to do it again next year.” – Nigel Hamilton