What to do and see in Marrakech in December?
What to do and see in Marrakech in December?: Are you thinking of taking Morocco tours at the end of the year? If you’re looking for warmth, I suggest you head for Marrakech for the festive season! This magnificent city in the heart of Morocco has some wonderful surprises in store for its visitors. Before you leave, and if you’re not sure when to go to Marrakech, you should know that December is a good time to take advantage of Morocco’s pleasant climate, visit the city’s major sites, and attend cultural events. In this article, I invite you to join me in discovering the best things to do and see in Marrakech in December.
Marrakech’s climate in December
Located in Morocco, at the foot of the Atlas Mountains, the city of Marrakech enjoys a semi-arid subtropical climate, characterized by very hot summers and scarce rainfall. Sunshine and heat are therefore the two elements that best characterize the weather in Marrakech.
In late autumn and winter in Marrakech, although it’s always hot and the sun is often out, temperatures are much milder, and can even be cool at night. During the month of December, the average daytime temperature is 20 degrees, with clear skies and plenty of sunshine. The temperature differences between day and night are considerable, with the thermometer dropping well below the 10-degree mark at night.
Rainfall in Marrakech is very low, averaging just one day in the whole month of December. The days become slightly shorter as the month progresses, lasting around 10 hours. The sun rises between 8.15 and 8.30 am and sets between 6.30 and 6.40 pm.
Overall, if you decide to go on vacation to Marrakech in December, the weather conditions will be really favorable. It’s never too hot or too cold, the days are long enough and the absence of rain means you can do all the activities you want!
Top 10 things to do in Marrakech in December
This is the true center of the city, a UNESCO World Heritage site. It’s the largest medina in the Maghreb.
Take a stroll here and immerse yourself in the local culture, discovering numerous historic buildings and monuments such as the Koutoubia Mosque and the Saadian Tombs. You can also visit the souks, discover the orange gardens and enjoy the typical atmosphere of a historic Marrakech neighborhood.
Jemaa el Fna Square
What to do and see in Marrakech in December?: This public square in the medina is one of the great symbols of the city, and indeed of Morocco. On this agora, listed as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, all social classes meet. It’s undoubtedly the liveliest place in town, day and night. You’ll see street artists, snake charmers, healers, herbalists and fortune-tellers.
This is also the place to go if you don’t know where to eat in Marrakech! You can sit on the terrace of a café or restaurant and enjoy a beautiful sunset at the end of the day. You can also learn more about the Medina, Place Jemaa el Fna and the city’s other landmarks on a historical and cultural tour of Marrakech.
Celebrating Christmas in Marrakech
Although Morocco is a predominantly Muslim country, there are a few reminders of Christmas, notably in places like the prestigious Royal Mansour and La Mamounia hotels, which embellish their spaces with Christmas trees, representations of the Three Wise Men and nativity scenes… If you wish, you can also attend a mass in one of the city’s churches.
And if you’re looking for “Western” products to celebrate, the Marjane hypermarkets are a good option: here you’ll find a selection of European and British food products.
The Palais de la Bahia covers almost 8 hectares and is one of the finest examples of Moroccan architecture. Built at the request of Grand Vizier Si Moussa in the 19th century, it became the royal residence after Moroccan independence. One of the country’s most popular tourist sites, it’s easy to visit on foot when exploring the medina. To learn more about this place steeped in history, I recommend a guided tour of the Bahia and El Badi Palaces, as well as the Saadian Tombs.
Discover Marrakech’s Palmeraie in December
What to do and see in Marrakech in December?: This haven of peace and greenery just a few kilometers from the Medina is the ideal place to discover the region’s flora and fauna.
In December, you won’t have to worry about the heat, and you can enjoy a 2-hour excursion on quad bikes and camels! From €49 per person, you can experience the thrill of the palm grove in a green oasis on the outskirts of town.
If you’d like to find out more about quad biking in the Marrakech desert, don’t hesitate to read my article on the subject By the way, the Marrakech palm grove is also one of the most beautiful places in the city to enjoy a beautiful sunset.
Stroll through the Jardin Majorelle
This is one of the highlights of the new city of Marrakech. The Jardin Majorelle was created by Jacques Majorelle, the famous French painter who fell in love with Morocco after his first trip to Marrakech in 1919.
Purchased in the 1960s by Yves Saint Laurent, the garden is now open to the public and welcomes tens of thousands of tourists every year.
The 4-hectare park is home to a superb villa blending cubism and Moorish architecture. All around you, you’ll discover numerous plant species (palms, coconut palms, cacti, jasmine, willows…) and enjoy the peace and quiet.
Discover the Atlas Mountains
What to do and see in Marrakech in December?: Visiting Marrakech without taking the time to discover the Atlas Mountains would be a real mistake! This superb natural region is home to 5 valleys: Fares, Ourika, Oukaïmeden (home to a ski resort), Sidi Fares and Tahnoaut.
As you explore these valleys, you’ll be able to enjoy breathtakingly beautiful scenery, contemplate Mount Toubkal (one of Africa’s highest peaks), admire the waterfalls of the Ourika valley and visit authentic Berber villages.
From Marrakech, you can also take excursions to the Atlas Mountains and the 5 Valleys. From €69 per person, you can even enjoy a delicious lunch in a Berber house!
Skiing in Morocco
I mentioned it earlier: although it may seem surprising to combine skiing and Morocco, you should know that it’s possible! Some 80 kilometers south of the city of Marrakech lies Oukaïmeden, Africa’s highest winter resort, situated at an altitude of 2,600 meters in the High Atlas Mountains. It’s plagued by rain and precipitation, so it’s an ideal location for a skiing vacation in Morocco.
Although the facilities are not as modern as in Europe, they still offer ten kilometers of slopes. There are plenty of green, blue, red and black runs to choose from. If you choose to make your own way, you can easily rent all the equipment you need on site, from skis to boots.
Marrakech in December: take a trip to the Zagora desert
What to do and see in Marrakech in December?: How would you like to explore the Marrakech desert? This 2-day excursion to the Zagora desert is a must. It can be done all year round, but December is still one of the best periods, as you won’t have to endure the heat in the middle of the day.
From Marrakech, the Zagora desert is over 350 km from the city. Along the way, you’ll discover the Drâa Valley, Ouarzazate, the Atlas Mountains and the ancient fortress town of Aït-Ben-Haddou. During your discovery of the Sahara desert, you’ll have the opportunity to take a camel ride, admire a superb sunset and enjoy a local dinner.
From €85 per person, you’ll even spend a night in the Marrakech desert, under a tent! (But don’t forget to bring warm clothes, as nights can be chilly in the desert). And after enjoying a Berber breakfast, you can set off on camelback to watch a beautiful desert sunrise.
Attending the Marrakech International Film Festival
One of the most important cultural events of the year in Marrakech usually takes place in autumn, between late November and early December. During the Marrakech International Film Festival, the city becomes for a few days the world capital of cinema.
This major 8-day event was founded in 2001 at the request of Mohammed VI, and since then it has put the 7th art in the spotlight every year, bringing together numerous personalities from the international cinema world. Jury members have included Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola and Robert de Niro.
What to do and see in Marrakech in December?
For the occasion, numerous film screenings from the four corners of the globe are organized, and leading figures from the industry come to share their know-how at conferences. Each year, a tribute is also paid to the cinematographic work of a particular country.
Many films are presented to the public, and a giant screen is even installed at the entrance to the Medina on Place Jemaa el Fna, which becomes a large open-air screening area for the occasion.
15 feature-length films are competing for the Golden Star for best film, and other awards are also handed out for best male and female performers.
Where to stay in Marrakech in December?
If you’re looking for a place to stay in Marrakech, you’re bound to have realized that Marrakech riads are a must when it comes to accommodation. In terms of accommodation, there really is something for every taste and budget! If you’d like to treat yourself, you can also take a look at Marrakech’s luxury hotels, where you’ll find some sublime establishments.
That’s why I’d like to start by introducing you to Riad l’Oiseau du Paradis! Located just a 10-minute walk from Place Jamaâ El Fna, you’ll enjoy magnificent rooms decorated in traditional style. You’ll also have access to a rooftop terrace overlooking the Koutoubia mosque, as well as a patio. For a night in this establishment, count from €66 per night, breakfast included.
The Appart-hotel Marrakech Inn is located in the Guéliz district, which is perfect for those looking for a hotel on a tight budget! Just 2.5 km from the Jardin Majorelle and museums, and 3 km from Jamaâ El Fna square, you’ll find suites for 2 from around €88 per night. You’ll even have access to the swimming pool
Tourist numbers in Marrakech in December
What to do and see in Marrakech in December?: December is one of the busiest months of the year in Marrakech. Many visitors come to take advantage of the mild climate for their end-of-year vacations, and major events such as the Marrakech International Film Festival attract huge numbers of tourists.
On the other hand, tourist numbers don’t have much of an impact on the cost of travel to Marrakech. The price of hotels or plane tickets is more or less the same at this time of year and during the low tourist season (prices are particularly expensive during the summer months of July and August).
If you don’t know where to go in Morocco, or if you’d like to leave earlier or later, don’t hesitate to read my articles on Marrakech in November and Marrakech in January. In any case, always remember to plan your stay well before you leave!