You won’t find many theatres or opera houses in Marrakech, but that doesn’t mean the arts aren’t alive and well in this Moroccan city. Standing at the crossroads of Andalusian, Berber, Arabic and sub-Saharan culture, Marrakech expresses its multiculturalism through music. The city’s denizens have opted for informal performances done in town squares and on the sidewalk. The most formal that an arts performance ever gets is a festival in Jemma el Fna. The biggest of these festivals is the Popular Arts Festival in late June or July every year. For ten days, Jemaa el Fna and the surrounding areas become absolutely packed with visitors and performers. Storytellers, acrobat troupes and Gnaoua musicians all converge upon the busiest square in the city in celebration. Performances are only held in Arabic or French, but the visual appeal of most of the acts will outweigh any language barrier.

Even when the city isn’t playing host to a gargantuan art festival, there are still plenty of music in Jemma el Fna at night. After dusk, when most of the daytime vendors pack up, the square becomes alive with musicians playing drums, mandolins, flutes, and a variety of other instruments. In particular, listen to a performance of Gnaoua , a Moroccan-bred genre of trance music that combines many African styles.