Legend said that the blood of Adonis was where the rose initially appeared in ancient Rome. Weddings featured rose crowns, banquets included garlands, and winners’ feet were covered in petals. The festival of roses in Morocco is held in such location that celebrates the extravagant beauty of this flower even though we are not in the era of the old times.
The festival’s location
The festival of roses in Morocco honors the season’s rose harvest every year in Kelaat Mgouna, in the Dades Valley, about 50 miles northeast of Ouarzazate. The area is referred to as the Valley of Roses and is filled with blossoming hedgerows and the fragrant Centifolia rose, often known as the Persian or cabbage rose.
This region is the hub of the Moroccan rose industry, which turns the luxuriant, pink blossoms into rose oils used in cosmetics, food, and fragrances. You can tour the nation’s largest rose distillery to witness how rosewater and rose attar (essential oil) are manufactured. It takes over 7,000 pounds of rose petals to make just 35 ounces of oil.
The festival’s date
The celebration has historically taken place around the weekend of May 6–8. However, because the festival is directly related to the harvest, the exact dates change from year to year. The festivities start on a Friday, with the main activities taking place on Saturday, and then continue into Sunday.
Come a few days earlier to see the most flowers because the event marks the end of the harvest. The unusual sight of literally tons of rose petals being trucked into the factories with their scent wafting behind them will also reward early visitors. Kelaat Mgouna is a charming city with almond groves all around, making it the perfect place for leisurely strolls.
What to expect during the festival?
In the timeless story “The Little Prince,” author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry said, “It is the time you have lost for your rose that makes your rose so important,” and the festival celebrations bear witness to this fervor and dedication. A Rose Queen will preside over a petal-strewn parade of faux-rose floats, kids will be handing out garlands in the streets, and the souk will be transformed into a bonanza of rose-scented souvenirs, including soaps, lotions, oil, different kinds of perfumes, and dried flowers.
There will be local artisans on display, as well as classical Berber food, music, and dancing. According to local legend, Morocco has celebrated the rose ever since it arrived there in the tenth century, and the festival is still primarily for the villagers and farmers who live there.
Is Morocco on your bucket list? Read our article about the most common Moroccan words and phrases to learn before going there.