Magnificent, richly adorned Arab stallions gallop in unison, ridden by riders in flaming Djellabas armed with black powder rifles. At the end of a frantic gallop under the encouragement of the crowd, all the detonations of the rifles must then merge into a single clap of thunder. It’s called the Fantasia Tbourida in Morocco, and it’s a breathtaking spectacle not to be missed.

The Fantasy  of the Fantasia

You can almost feel the ground vibrate under the hooves of the Arab thoroughbred horses charging at full gallop, encouraged by the screams of their riders. Then at the end of a frantic race, it is the apotheosis. Shots ring out as one big explosion whose power surprises us even though we were expecting it. The riders and their mounts are engulfed in a cloud of smoke for a brief moment, before reappearing perfectly aligned in front of the spectators as if to bow out, to a rain of applause. We just have time to recover from our emotions and admire the beauty of their accoutrements and the richness of their finery before they turn around and trot back. I can assure you that no one is left unmoved by such an impressive spectacle.

Fantasia Tbourida, a Moroccan tradition of yesteryear

Fantasia or Tbourida in Arabic is a very old prestigious practice of Berber origin which aims to simulate a military assault by cavalry of yesteryear. It is practiced in groups of ten riders belonging to the same tribe or ethnic community and commanded by a chief called M’qaddem. According to tradition, the harness and saddlery of horses must be embroidered with 18-carat gold thread and the armament must be made by hand. The long parade rifles with chiseled butts inlaid with mother-of-pearl and ivory are rimmed in silver. The riders must also be dressed in their finest traditional clothes including Djellaba and burnous of silk or very fine wool, embroidered boots, curved Arab dagger and other accessories. The whole show is a fastival of colors.

Where, When, and how to attend a Fantasia Tbourida in Morocco ?

It is difficult to make your trip coincide with a fantasia because these events often accompany “Moussems”, regional agricultural or religious festivals organized on the occasion of sowing, the harvest or to honor a saint. The dates of the Moussems depend either on the harvest dates or on obscure local religious calendars, and above all on the cash flow of the organizing communities. Other more folkloric fantasia shows are organized in a tourist context and are therefore easier to find.

The best Time to attend a Fantasia Tbourida is during the Throne festivals which take place on july 30 each year

During the feast of the throne, each region or locality celebrates the day of the king’s enthronement by organizing “moussems” often including performances of Fantasia Tbourida show in Morocco. It is around Rabat, the capital that we are most likely to come across.

Here are some other opportunities to consider if you want to attend a fantasia while in Morocco:

The Fantasia contests

The Moroccan cultural authorities organize fantasia competitions between the different localities of the kingdom. They symbolize the mastery uniting man and his horse and meet specific rules: Respect for the sequence, overall cohesion, the simultaneity of the “fight”. The most prestigious competition is the Grand Prix de la fantasia which takes place in Rabat during the week of the horse in June / July.

Most famous Fantasia Tbourida Moussems

  • Moussem of Moulay Abdallah in El Jadida in August
  • Tbourida de Tissa in the region of Fès / Meknes in September
  • Moussem des Regragas near Essaouira during the spring equinox
  • Moussem by Moulay Bousselham in June