Ramadan will run from 6 May to about 4 June 2019. There is no need to avoid coming to Marrakech during Ramadan. There is a change in the daily routine, and a change in street etiquette. With a small adjustment it can be just as enjoyable as any other time of year, and there should be less hassle.
What is Ramadan?
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar. The exact dates cannot be determined in advance due to the sighting of the crescent moon, but it generally moves forward by 11 days each year. If Ramadan occurs during the summer months Daylight Saving time will not apply, so clocks will go back the Sunday before Ramadan is expected, and forward again the Sunday after it has finished.
It is a holy month for Muslims during which they abstain from eating, drinking and smoking from before sunrise to sunset. It is a time to focus more on the spiritual aspects of life, and also time to re-connect to family and friends after sunset and in the night. The last ten nights are particularly special for Muslims, one of these the mosques stay open all night and Muslims will walk from one to the other throughout the night to hear the full recitation of the Qur’an. Well-known Imams are invited to the Mosques in Marrakech, so for Muslims this can be a special experience. It is also a time to be generous in giving.
Will I have to fast in the day?
As a non-Muslim you are not expected to fast, however out of respect, you should avoid eating (including chewing gum), drinking and smoking in public during daylight hours.
How should I dress in public?
Everyone should dress modestly. It is advisable for women to avoid short skirts and sleeveless tops. We advise to bring loose fitting layers.
Will shops and banks be open?
Banks will close earlier, and New Town shops will not close for lunch, but close about an hour before sunset, and then re-open after breaking the fast. On Fridays very few people go back to work after the midday Muslim prayer.
Can I get something to eat during the day?
Most restaurants and cafes in Marrakech will stay open day and night during Ramadan, but often close an hour before sunset and re-open after breaking the fast. It can be more difficult to find alcohol in restaurants and bars. Many Muslims will not even handle alcohol during this time.
It is more difficult to find places to eat during the day outside Marrakech, unless they cater just for tourists.
Will all the sights be open?
Yes they will, but again will close earlier
How about taking an excursion?
Most excursions and tours will still operate, but there may be a change in times available. Coaches and buses may alter their schedules or routes to match sunset or reduce traffic. Taxi drivers are less likely to engage in afternoon or evening travel. Trains generally keep to their given schedule but can be busier as people try to re-join their families.
Just before sunset traffic can be busy and drivers tend to speed as they head home to be with their families and break the fast. At sunset the street will be empty.
And what happens locally?
The Riad is located just off a street market, so it can be very busy in the afternoon as locals shop for the evening meals. There is lots of street food, special pastries, all to be bought and consumed after sunset. Remember people will not have drunk, eaten or smoked all day so at times it can get a bit fractious.
Can I get food in the Riad?
We will be serving drinks and food as normal in the Riad, except we ask you to let the staff have time to break the fast at sunset. You can still bring alcohol into the Riad ( and provide us with receipt) but we will ask you to excuse our staff serving you and clearing empty glasses/bottles.