If you are visiting southern Morocco in mid-May, spending some time in the town of El-Kelaa M’Gouna, deep inside the oases of the Valley of Dades and just one and a half's drive away from Ouarzazate, might be the highlight of your trip.
The region is known as the Valley of Roses, and as you approach its pink landscapes - mile after mile of rose hedgerows divide the plots of land - and the scent in the air is utterly intoxicating. El-Kelaa M’Gouna is famous for its damask roses. The variety was introduced by the French in the colonial era, when a first distillery plant was opened to produce rose water and other products such as soap, oil, or dried flowers. At the end of the harvest a colourful festival evolved to celebrate the end of the harvest and now remains an annual tradition.
The Festival of Roses, which lasts three days, offers the chance to witness one of the most fascinating spectacles in Morocco. Not for the benefit of tourism - despite its popularity, the Festival of Roses largely remains a local event.
Berber tribes flock to the town, playing live music and dancing in the streets, and a colorful parade takes place at the end of which a Rose Queen is elected amongst the girls of the region to reign over the year’s scented crop. There are exhibitions of swordsmanship and horsemanship, delicious food, the inescapable camel rides, and boys and girls take to the streets wearing traditional costumes and rose garlands.
You are in Berber land - generosity and an amazing sense of hospitality are guaranteed.
The Festival of Roses opens a privileged door to that elusive concept everybody talks about, the real Morocco; if you have a chance, do not miss it!
In El Kelaa M'gouna, a town just one hour and a half's drive from Ouarzazate, and less than one hour away from Skoura.
Towards mid-May - dates vary slightly every year, depending on the end of the harvest. Please enquire with our travel experts for exact dates.
Where to Stay?
If you want to upgrade the hotels suggested then we can recommend plenty of other options in Marrakech and the Skoura area.
For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.