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Horse Festivals : Morocco

Tissa Horse Festival

The picturesque center of Tissa is located a few miles off the main road No. 302 in the Fez Province, and is the site of a gigantic competition between the various horse breeds. It is held every year in October. Hundreds of riders assemble wearing their finery to present their mounts. Prize-giving and festivities create a very animated scene. 

Festival of Fantasia”

Another horse festival, known as the “Festival of Fantasia” which has been held every year (usually at the beginning of September) since 1977 is held in Meknes. It offers thousands of horsemen and their mounts the chance to meet and display their skill and the occasion has earned itself a well-deserved success.

There is one particularly stunning and exciting event that has taken its rightful place among the more noteworthy examples of traditional folklore in Morocco, those demonstrations popular customs of which Morocco is so famous and which stimulates tourists to come and to see for themselves; that even is the Fantasia.

This colorful display of horsemanship begins with a procession made up of women from the Zayaan tribe on horseback. Behind them come, their men folks in groups according to their tribe and bearing each group's emblem. 

When this "lap of honor" finishes, it gives way to the real Fantasia, the Aid el Barood (Festival of Gunpowder) with its gun-fire and bursts of shots. 

The horsemen line up in close ranks, and no sooner has one wave of riders left than the next is ready to follow; the impression is that of surging waves of galloping hooves. 

The frenzied dash of horses is accompanied by the piercing cries of the riders and terse orders from their chief until the whole thing explodes in a blaze of gun-fire from their famous "moukhahla", the rifles that are so highly prized by gun collectors. And when the riding is over, then another kind of show begins on a platform that has been erected in front of the huge marquees. 

No show of popular folklore is complete in Morocco without music and dance. The spectator is, needless to say, enthralled by the diversity and richness of costumes and music that stretch back in time for a thousand years. Since September 1977, the National Festival of Fantasia has been held in Meknes.