September 22, 2019

How Marrakech took techno festivals to a whole new level

Oasis festival, 13-15 September 2019, Fellah Hotel - Marrakech, Morocco

As the English summer warmth begins to fade, nothing beats the Autumnal blues like getting on a plane to Morocco to soak up some sun and enjoy the sweet sweet sound of your favourite DJs. Located in the beautiful grounds of the Fellah Hotel, Marrakech, Oasis festival is like no other festival I’ve ever been to. 

marrakech map

Arrival into Marrakech 

Arriving in Marrakech Menara International Airport into 35°C, we hopped in a cab and learnt our first lesson of haggling the price before getting in. First tip, don’t pay more than 150 MAD to get across the Medina and get into an official taxi from the rank. Also brush up on your French before you arrive - you’re gonna need it! 

As a group of 6, we rented out an airbnb which was supposed to be in Hivernage within the Medina, however in reality it was on the Northern outskirts and around 30 minutes drive from the festival. Nevertheless, the decor was amazing and it had a private pool so we weren’t complaining! Arriving on the 12th, we had some time to explore Marrakech and we followed some online advice and ‘got lost in the city’. We soon found out this was terrible advice as we were outside of the main tourist area, and swiftly turned back. The beauty of renting an Airbnb is having a kitchen so we headed to buy some food and alcohol. Drinking in the streets and other public areas is prohibited in Morocco and finding shops that sell it can prove difficult. The best place to buy alcohol is in a large Carrefour cave (we went to the one on Boulevard Al Yarmouk, bottom floor at the back). 

Using your UK data is super expensive, so I would recommend buying a sim card (we had a mix of Orange and INUI) - it’s about €1 for 1GB data. If you forget, don’t fret - There is free wifi within the festival grounds!

Getting to the festival 

There are free shuttles that leave from each of the hotels labelled on this map - it might change year to year but the website is full of information. Otherwise it was fine to get a taxi there to ‘hotel Fellah’ but it cost between 250-400 MAD each way. That’s around €25 to €40. If you’re worried you’ve gone the wrong way, the final stretch is unmistakable with Oasis festival flags flying proud off lamp posts. 

Don’t be fooled by the lavish setting...

In the words of the founder of the festival, Marjana Jaidi, “As you get older you might still enjoy this music but your needs have evolved — you might want somewhere to sit, you might want to be in a more civilised environment,” she said. “So I wanted to create an atmosphere where people can enjoy at all ages,and feel like they’re on holiday.” 

So for September 2019, goodbye pungent portaloos and sweaty tents, hello swimming pools and cozy cushions. 

Wristbands, drinks, set lists and stages

Oasis festival are so organised that they have their own app! I would highly recommend downloading it before arriving and selecting your favourite acts so that you don’t miss them - handy notifications will pop up to remind you where to be and when. Upon arrival, you get your wristband strapped on which has a little plastic card attached - this is your wallet for the festival. Head over to the booth to add your money, they do accept card for top ups! I would recommend starting off with 500MAD (the equivalent of €50) - for reference, water cost 20MAD, beers cost 50MAD and spirit mixers cost 80MAD. There is a bag drop if you need, well worth the 2MAD if you are worried about bringing your towel and change of clothes for after swimming. Now you’re ready for the time of your life… 

What’s it like at Oasis festival

As you walk through the cacti filled desert, you truly feel like you’re entering an oasis. Following the path, a burst of colour, smell and sound hits you. The swimming pool in the centre surrounded by local foods and drinks, why not sit down for some shisha while you watch the sunset? The pool acts like a centre point, and the stages are off in different directions. 

There are 4 main stages: Mirage, Oasis, Bamboo and Mbari. I spent most of my time at Oasis and Bamboo, with a personal favourite of Bamboo. Sounds systems were on point for all. 

OASIS is your big main stage with the finale act of Âme B2B Dixon - wrapping up the festival with pure magic. The backdrop was brought to life by UK-based art collective Squidsoup’s light installation. Others who graced the stage were Theo Parrish, Moodymann, Four Tet and Amelie Lens to name a few.

BAMBOO is more intimate, set within the dark walls of a bamboo forest accompanied by awesome lights and floor panels which bounced with the crowd and shook with that beautiful techno bass. One might even call it, immersive. If I had to choose a fav it would be Seth Troxler and Loco Dice. Also the location of yoga in the afternoon! 

MIRAGE is behind the pool in the corner, fairly dark but very groovy. Here you would find the likes of Horse Meat Disco and Park Hye Jin.

MBARI is a little harder to find, and because of this it’s the most intimate of them all. A small stage next to another pool and just outside a store where you can peruse some clothes.  

Getting home in the early hours after the festival

If you fancied being clever and forward thinking, you would leave around half an hour before the end to beat the crowds and get a coveted spot on the free coaches. HOWEVER, I’m also not one to miss out on every second of the party so.. I would recommend getting the number off your taxi who dropped you off (although we didn’t have much luck getting him to return at 5am) or walking out over the bridge to the road and waiting there to get the first taxis driving in - we never had to wait more than 20 minutes. 

Upon reflection: Oasis festival 2019

The best festivals are when the setting, music and the people come together in perfect harmony. Oasis festival 2019 was everything we could ask for and more. Everyone we met was super friendly, chilled and happy to help out with anything. Fancy headwear was definitely encouraged, go adventurous with your make up and let loose! The staff were absolutely incredible, so hard working and there’s nothing better than seeing them loving life and dancing along. I wish we had longer to explore the city. 

Recommendations if you have time: Drink some peppermint tea - it is a delicious delicacy and pouring is a spectacle, head to Naima Couscous for a huge authentic sharing platter, walk around Hivernage and so much more...  

Verdict:Would highly recommend Oasis festival to a friend.


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