Rose water-making celebrated in Moroccan festival

28th April, 2016
Located at the foot of the High Atlas mountains in Morocco, the Valley of Roses is a stark contrast to the barren desert that surrounds it – a sea of pink Persian roses and lush green hedgerows carpet the area.

The roses have helped to create one of Morocco’s finest exports, rose oil and rose water, bringing wealth and success to this otherwise desolate area of Morocco. In celebration of the harvest, a Rose Festival is held every May in the area’s only settlement, El Kelaa M’Gouna, which is a hit with locals and tourists alike.

As the area’s only town, El Kelaa M’Gouma plays a significant role in the production of rose water, and is home to two enormous rose water factories, meaning the scent of roses is always lingering in the air. Although the Valley has over 4,200km of rose hedges, only around 1400 litres of rose water are produced from this – it takes around 300,000 kilogrammes of rose petals to create a litre of rose oil. Rose oil and rose water are therefore luxury commodities, desired not only for their fragrance but also the unique floral flavour they add to local dishes.

The festival takes place in the heart of El Kelaa M’Gouna, and offers a unique experience celebrating the virtues of roses as well as cultural traditions. An enormous souk opens in the town, selling not only all kinds of rose products but also a wealth of other locally-made arts, crafts and products. Musicians and dancers will also be livening up the spirit by providing some lively street entertainment. The main event is the crowning of the Rose Queen, who will reign over the successful harvest and is celebrated in a special ceremony.

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