"Until recently Marrakech got all the attention, but today Essaouira is increasingly the favourite destination of elite European travellers to Morocco.
The cosmopolitan atmosphere of the UNESCO heritage "white city", 170 km from 'red' Marrakech, which has a pleasant climate even at the height of summer thanks to a constant wind – the taros – from the sea, has always been the amor fou of sophisticated travellers.
It used to be a mecca for alternative tourism, for hippies and surfers, but today it is filled with international bon vivants: actors like Mel Gibson and designers like Philippe Starck, who come to discover the blue and white city overlooking the Atlantic. Within the fortified walls that enclose the medina, the atmosphere of peace and freedom recalls the Bohemian period of '60s, when it became an enclave for artists like Jimi Hendrix, William Burroughs, Frank Zappa, Bob Marley, Pasolini and Orson Welles, who filmed scenes from "Othello" here.
It is the only city in Morocco to be designed before being built, in 1760, on the orders of the Sultan, by the French architect Theodore Cornut."
(from Men's Vogue Italy, 2011)
Essaouira hosts numerous important arts events, including:
Gnaoua and World Music Festival, which has enlivened the squares, streets and beach of Essaouira for a whole weekend in June since 1998.
The Gnaoua and World Music Festival, is a world class event not to be missed, where you can immerse yourself fully in gnaoua and Moroccan art and culture, with international guests, concerts and exhibitions. Events take place in the medina, whose alleyways fill with the sounds of a fascinating blend of musical styles and cultures. The main stages are set up near the two large entryways of the city, in Place Moulay el Hassan and Bab Marrakech, but the whole city becomes the stage for art and music.
Alizés Musical Spring takes place in April and attracts leading names in classical and symphonic music.
The Festival des Andalousies Atlantiques takes place in December, with conferences, concerts and debates aimed at raising awareness of the artistic heritage shared by Morocco and Spain.