We at Journey Beyond Travel now have word that the wedding festival will take place on September 15, 16, & 17, 2011. We are arranging Morocco itineraries to help clients get to the festival. So, feel free to contact us for more information.
One of the most notable pieces of Moroccan culture is the moussem, a traditional religious festival that serves as both spiritual gathering and impromptu block party for local residents. Some festivals are so well known that locals and those on a Morocco holiday travel across the country to attend—and the Imilchil Wedding Festival is just such an event.
Held each fall in the mountain town of Imilchil, the wedding festival is deeply rooted in local history and culture. The festival’s roots can be found in the story of two star-crossed lovers, Tislit and Isli. According to local legend, Tislit and Isli were children of warring mountain tribes and had fallen deeply in love. When their families discovered their relationship, they refused to allow them to see one another, let alone marry. The couple was so heartbroken that they ran away to marry secretly, and then threw themselves into the mountain lakes that today bear their names.
Devastated by the deaths of their children, the tribes came together and agreed that from then on, no one would be able to dictate who their children were to marry. The wedding festival serves as a yearly reminder of both this freedom to choose and an opportunity for men and women to meet their future spouses. Indeed, it is one of the few opportunities many mountain villagers have to socialize with the opposite sex, and people come out in droves to see and be seen.
Visitors are still fairly uncommon to the region, due largely to its isolation and perilous roadways, but numbers are on the rise. Locals are usually quite happy to help you understand their culture and traditions, and, in fact, eager to help new arrivals gain all that they can from the experience. It is, however, still a very important social gathering for those involved, and the proper care should be taken to show respect.
Imilchil, high in the peaks of the Middle Atlas Mountains, has plenty to offer trekkers and climbers … or even those looking for an exhilarating day hike. If you attend the festival, make sure to set aside a little time to explore the nearby peaks and even the lakes that still go by the names of two unfortunate lovers.
Be prepared, however, when you arrive. The region’s isolation means many supplies are hard to come by, so make sure you have plenty of essentials with you (medications, water tablets, etc.) before you go. Also make sure to have lodging settled before you arrive. While many festival-goers will be staying in town with family, the few hotel rooms that exist will be hard to come by. You can also take the opportunity to camp but be sure to bring plenty of warm layers, as the mountains get very chilly at night.
The festival is one of the best known in Morocco and is a wonderful opportunity to experience Berber culture. If you’re in the mood for a few romantic days in the mountains, the Imilchil Wedding Festival may be a good fit for your next trip to the real Morocco!
Written by Margaret Jackson.
Photo by Antonio Caselli.