Tailor-Made Holiday

Morocco - Festival of Roses

Annual three day festival in the Atlas Mountains

8 days

from $1,400pp (excluding flights)

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!

Where ?

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.

When?

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.

Price Excluding Flights $Flight cost from 
$ 1890 $ 135

Itinerary at a glance

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Day 1

Fly London to Marrakech


Colourful, cosmopolitan Marrakech has an authentic Moroccan feel. This is a city steeped in rich history and where ancient culture is still very much in evidence today. Intricate buildings and architectural wonders tell their own stories while, in the evenings, acrobats and story tellers gather at Djemma El Fna Square - a scene best viewed from one of many terraced coffee shops overlooking the square.

Marrakech is a true North African gem waiting to be explored.


You will be staying at Riad Honey, Bed & Breakfast

Day 2

Half Day Marrakech Historical Tour
Met by your private guide to enjoy a half day historical tour of Marrakech. The tour starts with a visit to the Koutoubia Mosque and Minaret. Continue through the Bab Agnaou Gate to visit the Saadian Necropolis of the 16th century and walk through the 12th century Kasbah with its food market, bakeries and narrow alleyways. From here you head to the Jewish quarter to visit the impressive ruins of the 16th Century Badii Palace before heading to the 19th Century Bahia Palace, which is a wonderful example of Moroccan architecture. The tour ends with a stroll inside the Jewish quarter to visit the historical synagogue Lezama (if open), built in 1492 by Sephardic Jews expelled from Spain and considered the oldest functioning synagogue in Morocco.


You will be staying at Riad Honey, Bed & Breakfast

Day 3

Drive from Marrakech to Skoura (Road Journey)


Skoura itself comprises little more than a souk but it, together with its neighbouring oasis of Tinerhir, are beautiful oases in an otherwise barren area. There is a dense palmery and it is scattered with groups of Ksours and Kasbahs.


You will be staying at Les Jardins de Skoura, Half board

Day 4

Festival of Roses
The region is known as the Valley of Roses, and as you approach its pink landscapes - mile after mile of rose hedgerows dividing the plots of land - and smell the scent in the air, you cannot but agree that it is a very appropriate name.

El-Kelaa M'Gouna is famous because of these damask roses. The variety was brought by the French in the colonial era, when the first distillery plant was opened to produce rose water and other products such as soap, oil, or dried flowers that are widely used by Moroccans in their cooking, perfumery, and traditional pharmacopeia. Shortly thereafter the tradition of celebrating the end of the harvest with a colorful festival began.

The Festival of Roses, which lasts three days, offers the chance to witness at its best, one of the most fascinating spectacles that Morocco can afford: the joyous, unrestricted energy of thousands of Moroccans gathering together in order to have fun, and this not for the benefit of tourism - as despite its popularity, the Festival of Roses remains largely a purely local event.


You will be staying at Les Jardins de Skoura, Half board

Day 5

Valley of Roses
Four wheel drive transfer to the Valley of Roses which is located between the M'Goun Gorge and Dadès Valley. The valley is famed for its roses and the petals are harvested for making highly renouned essential oils. There is a one hour walk through the scenic valley with a guide. Part of the walk through the valley can be done by riding a donkey if you wish.


You will be staying at Les Jardins de Skoura, Half board

Day 6

Optional Activities from Skoura
The local area is beautiful and tours and guides are easily arranged, most with sufficient English. These range from walks in the local palm groves, trips out on a donkey for half days, to more lengthy expeditions. Horse riding and hiring bicycles are also available. Longer explorations could take you into the spectacular High Atlas mountains; up the Dades valley (the country of the figs) which has snow one side and semi-desert the other, to discover the 'Street of the Thousand Kasbahs'; or to the Draa Valley (country of the dates), which takes you in about 5 hours from the Atlas to the Sahara desert. This area is known for trekking - deep gorges, snow-clad summits, remote Berber hamlets - but be warned: it's too hot to hike in the middle of the day from April through September. The local town of Ouarzazate, though far from spectacular, does have markets, pharmacies, supermarkets and a range of banks. It also hosts the biggest film studios in Morocco, so if you wish to see the plane in Raiders of the Lost Ark, the statues from Gladiator or any number of other film props, this is place to go! Visit historical sites such as the fairytale remains of Kasbah Amerhidil, or the much-filmed hilltown of Ait Ben Haddou; keen photographers will adore the extraordinary, photogenic landscape. Henna tattoos can be arranged by local artist.


You will be staying at Les Jardins de Skoura, Half board

Day 7

Drive from Skoura to Marrakech (Road Journey)


You will be staying at Tigmi, Bed & Breakfast

Day 8

Fly Marrakech to Gatwick

Accommodation

Below you can see some of the wonderful places we recommend you stay on your journey.

Riad Honey

Riad Honey

With just eight rooms Riad Honey has a small and intimate atmosphere....

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Tigmi

Tigmi

Located in a magical desert landscape 15 miles south of Marrakech between the city and the High Atlas, Tigme means 'my house' in the Berber dialect....

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Les Jardins de Skoura

Les Jardins de Skoura

Les Jardins de Skoura is a charming hotel located in the heart of the Skoura palm plantation....

View Accommodation

For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

Destination Experts

Our experts have unrivalled firsthand knowledge of Morocco

Katie Benden, Travel Expert

"Katie was brilliant and very helpful. Helped to put together the itinerary I was dreaming of for my honeymoon and she was excellent with communication."

"Very happy with Katie Benden. Great service – always prompt reply to queries and always polite, attentive and informative. A wonderful holiday."

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Kate Hitchen, Travel Expert

"Kate was calm and bent over backwards to accommodate my jitters about going to Kashmir in the light of tighter FCO guidelines just a few days before our departure. She was absolutely correct in advising against what I thought we should do. Several times during the holiday we said that, 'Kate was dead right about that!'."

"We asked for a rather particular kind of Indian holiday. You delivered it in full. Highlights? Honestly, each day was a highlight in itself. "

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For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

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