The Essential Guide To Visiting Marrakech During Eid Al-Adha

Traditional attire in Morocco Copyright Mandy Sinclair
Traditional attire in Morocco Copyright Mandy Sinclair
Photo of Mandy Sinclair
9 February 2017

An important holiday not only in Morocco, but throughout the entire Muslim world, visiting Marrakech during Eid Al Adha provides visitors with a glimpse into local life as celebrations spread from the rooftop terraces onto the streets. With government offices and banks closed for three days in honour of the holy festival, it truly is a festive time in Morocco.

The meaning behind the feast

Eid Al Adha is a religious observation honoring Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his child before God stepped in and a sheep was sacrificed instead. Today, many locals still sacrifice a sheep in their home in honor of this Old Testament tale before tucking into special dishes prepared using various parts of the lamb.

Sheep everywhere

The days leading up to the feast are some of the most exciting as locals purchase their sheep from the markets and pop-up stalls before transporting it home by whatever means available – on scooter, tied up in a cart, or even in the trunk of a taxi. Don’t be surprised if you see men sharpening knives on the street using a large round stone in advance of the feast.

Returning home before the Eid celebrations Copyright Mandy Sinclair

Relax the morning of the sacrifice

Most businesses will be closed for a period over Eid Al Adha, so if you’re staying in a riad, book a hammam in-house or linger a little longer over breakfast. The sacrifice is usually over by late morning, with people celebrating in the streets by mid-afternoon. After all, it is a joyous occasion. Museums will remain closed for the day.

Plan your dinners in advance

Most shops, cafés and restaurants will be closed for at least the morning, some for a day or two. But keep in mind that most locals will be enjoying a lamb feast; so with many restaurants closed it’s best to book dinner in the riad for the first night of the holiday. The food stalls in Jemaa el Fna are essentially closed for two weeks following the Eid celebrations as the butchers and fishermen take a break during this time while lamb is consumed in local homes.

Dinner at Dar Attajmil in Marrakech Copyright Mandy Sinclair

Soak up the ambiance

Enjoy the mid-morning call to prayer followed by the silence on the streets as the bleating lambs become fewer. By mid-afternoon the medina is filled with smoking grills, as the finest lamb specialties are prepared and shared amongst visiting family members. Children run free between family homes in the medina in their finest Eid attire – kaftans for little girls and djellaba and yellow slippers for little boys.

Traditional attire in Morocco Copyright Mandy Sinclair