Marrakech during eid is an extraordinary destination which should be on everyone’s bucket list but research before departure is strongly recommended.
If you’re looking for something exotic with bucket loads of heart-stirring authenticity then set your sights firmly on Morocco. There are several destinations worthy of your time, but if it is limited, earmark Marrakech and Fez. Do, however, research carefully before booking. Remember to check out the dates for different religious festivals in Morocco as they will impact on the flavour and pace of your visit. It wasn’t until our airfare was booked and paid for that I discovered we would be in Marrakech during eid (a little like the western world’s Christmas break during the festive season). Communicating with fellow travellers via the web shed little light on the subject – in fact it seemed to generate more confusion. Some travellers assured me that staying in Marrakech at this time of the year would not be a problem. Others said everything would be closed for at least four days which were the days we would be spending time there. We were booked into Riad Andalla and the owners assured us that many of the souks in the Old Medina would be open. The day we arrived in Marrakech there was much activity. Cars, scooters, taxis darting off here and there…it was all go-go-go – a virtual hive of activity. What was glaringly obvious though was the number of sheep being carted around the old medina; their bleating was most unsettling. We asked around. The sheep were on their way to be slaughtered as part of the eid celebrations. The sheep is then prepared, cooked and eaten by everyone in the family.
During the week we were in Marrakech many stalls in the souks were closed but there was still plenty of activity in the medina’s central square Jemaa El Fna and down some of the alleys. The New City (including Gueliz, Ville Nouvelle and Hivernage neighbourhoods) was like a ghost town – everyone had gone into hibernation for eid, the trendy bars and restaurants were quiet and only a few were still trading.
It was an incredible experience staying in the old medina during eid. It is the perfect time to really get under the skin of a city; to watch it’s heart beat, to be part of the city’s rhythm of life without overwhelming throngs of tourists to stamp out the indescribable magic of this ancient place.