HOW TO ATTEND A FANTASIA TBOURIDA SHOW IN MOROCCO?
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
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