Marrakesh Feature

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Annual Festivals

Marrakesh's annual folklore festival of Moroccan music, theater, and dance—the Festival National des Arts Populaires —draws performers from all over Morocco and may even include an equestrian fantasia event. Held in July on the grounds of El Badi Palace, this highly worthwhile festival lasts about a week. Check the Web site for exact dates and times: www.marrakechfestival.com.

The Marrakesh International Film Festival is held in early December. Since 2000, this high-profile event has attracted the glitterati of the international movie world for screenings of Moroccan and international films throughout the city. Previous special guests have included Susan Sarandon, Leonardo Dicaprio, Martin Scorcese, and Alan Parker. For more information, the festival has a Web site: www.festivalmarrakech.info.

Aïd el-Arch, or Throne Day, the commemoration of the king's coronation, is always on July 30. Parades and fireworks create a festive ruckus, and throngs of people fill the streets to listen and dance to live music. Aïd el-Seghrir celebrates the end of Ramadan and is felt largely as a citywide sigh of relief. Aïd el-Kebir, the Day of Sacrifice, has a somber tone; approximately 2½ months after the end of Ramadan, Muslims everywhere observe the last ritual of the pilgrimage to Mecca by slaughtering a sheep. The Youth Festival, La Fête de Jeunesse, held on July 9, celebrates children, who generally just run around the streets singing, dancing, and horsing around.

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