But while there is plenty to recommend this laid-back delight already – think UNESCO World Heritage Site, surfer’s paradise, or prime hippie destination – Essaouira is about to gain yet another attraction with the Air/Port 2013 festival, held on July 5th as part of a novel artistic exchange.

A cultural swap between Antwerp and Essaouira, the festival invites artists and art students from both cities to join forces and create an impressive array of brand new artworks.

Hailing from two schools – the Sint-Maria Instituut and the Lycée Mohammed V – and inspired by two of Essaouira’s most prominent features, the prevalent wind (air) and the city’s impressive port, the project’s participants spent several months fine-tuning the overall Air/Port concept. A great opportunity to share skills and explore each other’s cultural backgrounds, the project soon revealed a wealth of fruitful similarities and differences between the hearts and minds involved.

As part of this ongoing process, several established artists, among them Douglas Friedman, Gianluca Tamorri, Mehryl Levisse, and Dominik Gigler provided a helping hand and added their own pieces to the Air/Port mix.

Leading up to the actual festival, all artworks will grace banners flanking Essaouira’s major avenues as well as some of the city’s historic and culturally significant sites, while the actual artworks will be on display in several galleries and cultural institutions during the expo. The festival will be followed by an auction of donated works to benefit two local NGOs, the Association de Lutte Contre le Sida and Project 91.

A prime example of a successful cultural exchange, the Air/Port project was initiated by the Belgian NGO Beauty Without Irony – a multi-platform creative and educational bureau focused on social change and charity engagement. Not just a one-time affair, the festival is scheduled to move to Antwerp in the summer of 2014.

For more information on this precious project, please visit the Beauty without Irony website. And book your flight to Morocco now!

Text: Romy Uebel
Header image: Mustapha El Haddar