JUNE 26-28, 2025



At the end of the 1990s, the Essaouira Gnaoua and World Music Festival is the first event of its kind to appear in Morocco. A pioneering festival, popular and free of charge, that was such an immediate success that it would open the way for other festivals and cultural events to pop up across the Kingdom. 

In addition to exercising a major influence on the Moroccan cultural and festival landscape, the Festival has definitively proven that development through culture is possible. In 2014, the Festival’s contribution to the development of the city of Essaouira was the subject of a study conducted by Valyans, which concluded that every dirham invested in the Festival brought a return of at least 17 dirhams to the city.

In 2020, Essaouira joined the UNESCO Creative Cities Network, in recognition of the numerous cultural initiatives it hosts, including the Gnaoua and World Music Festival, as well as the upcoming Complex for Arts and Culture, designed by the renowned Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer. 


The Festival has established Essaouira on the global map of musical cities, much like Montreux and New Orleans, home cities to prestigious festivals that have amply contributed to their reputations. The city of tradewinds was on life support in the 90s and yet, due in part to the influence of the Festival, would experience a spectacular renaissance. By the 2000s, as the Valyans study confirms, the number of housing units had tripled. Same for restaurants, shops, and establishments offering tourist activities. Not to mention the new roads built and expanded flight service on offer. 

Today, Essaouira and Gnaoua culture are closely connected in spirit, and the city has made a powerful outreach to attract more visitors every year. Without doubt, Essaouira has become one of the most desirable tourist destinations for travellers to Morocco.