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Morocco's peak holiday season is from July to September and is as much influenced by Moroccans returning home for their annual holiday as it is by international tourists. This is Morocco's summertime, when the whole country seems to enter holiday mode. The streets are noisier, the beaches are jampacked, and temperatures -- both physically and metaphorically -- can soar. Many Moroccans live and work on mainland Europe, and they all seem to take the month of August off to head back to the motherland. Most travel overland in their own vehicles, with seemingly everything bar the kitchen sink strapped to the rooftop, and the congestion at the main ferry ports can be horrendous, especially at the beginning and the end of August. Some maisons d'hôte in Fes and Marrakech close their doors for the month of August to escape the heat and the congested streets.

Also keep in mind the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan. During this time, daytime travels and activities may be curtailed or achieved with a noted lack of local enthusiasm. However, to be in the country during this spiritual time, and to witness the happy, festive atmosphere at nighttime, can more than offset any travel inconveniences.

Weather -- Morocco's summertime heat can have a major influence on the enjoyment of your time in the country and should be taken into consideration when planning your trip. The country's vast coastline is a magnet for locals and visitors alike during summer, with long, sunny days that are cooled by afternoon sea breezes. The higher reaches of the High Atlas, Middle Atlas, and Rif mountains are also pleasant escapes from the heat down on the plains. Traveling inland during this time -- especially in central and southern Morocco but also Marrakech, Fes, and Meknes -- is extremely uncomfortable.

Spring is considered the best season to experience Morocco. From late March to the end of May, central and southern Morocco are bathed in gloriously warm sunshine, the coast is beginning to warm up, and the mountains, some still hopefully snow topped, come into their own with crisp, fresh air and none of the haze of the ensuing months.

Central and southern Morocco, as well as Marrakech, offer crisp, sunny days during the colder months (Nov-Mar), but be warned that the nights can be exceptionally cold. Mountain trekkers should also be aware that Morocco's mountainous regions are susceptible to flash flooding during winter (from rainfall) and spring (from melting snow). Roads and villages have been washed away in the past.

Holidays -- Two types of holidays are celebrated in Morocco. National public holidays (fêtes nationales) commemorate important dates in the country's more recent history, as well as general Western holidays. All banks, post offices, and government departments, and some shops will close on these days, though public transport is only slightly reduced. These holidays are New Year's Day (Jan 1); commemoration of the Istiqlal Party's Independence Manifesto (Jan 11); Labor Day (May 1); Fête du Throne (July 30); Allegiance Day (Aug 14); Revolution Day (Aug 20); Youth Day (Aug 21); anniversary of the Green March (Nov 6); and Independence Day (Nov 18). The Western public holidays of Good Friday, Easter Monday, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day are sometimes also taken as holidays by some workers, though they are not official public holidays.

Islamic holidays are observed countrywide by all Moroccans, and some can last for 2 days. These holidays are influenced by the lunar-based Islamic, or hejira, calendar, which is roughly 11 days shorter than the Western Gregorian calendar and began in the year A.D. 579, when the Prophet Mohammed was born. Exact dates in the lunar calendar depend upon each new moon, and the holidays listed below are only approximate, having been calculated in advance by Islamic authorities in Fes. The most spiritual time during the Islamic year is the month-long fast of Ramadan. The four most important Islamic holidays in Morocco are Eid al Fitr, the Feast of the Breaking of the Fast after Ramadan; Eid al Adha; Ras as-Sana, the first day of the Muslim New Year; and Mouloud, the Prophet Mohammed's birthday.

The following are a list of major Islamic holidays and their dates for 2010 and 2011: Ramadan (Aug 11, Aug 1); Eid al Fitr (Sept 10, Aug 30); Eid al Adha (Nov 17, Nov 6); Ras as-Sana (Dec 7, Nov 26); and Mouloud (Feb 26, Feb 15).

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.