"the festivel of Imilchil" Imilchil by oulissfan

Imilchil Travel Guide: 8 reviews and 58 photos

the story of Imilchil

Her name was "Tislet", and his was "Isli"

Their families were enemy Berber tribes from the Atlas Mountains of Morocco. Although they were lovers, in true Shakespearean tradition, their irate parents refused to allow them to marry. Their hearts were broken. To live apart was impossible. They sadly exchanged vows, then drowned themselves in two nearby lakes which now bear their names. Destiny wills that even in death, they are unable to unite. The imposing mountain seated between the two bodies of water acts as a guardian even as their spirits reach out for one another.

this act of desperation so devastated the hostile clans of the Berber "Ait Haddidou" that parents of this tribe thenceforth granted their children the right to choose their own marriage partners.

So unfold the story woven around the annual Berber Brides' Festival of Imilchil, held high in the lake plateau of the Middle Atlas mountains of Morocco. Each year in September after the harvest, from every corner of the Ait Haddidou domain, come young men and women in search of a mate.

The moussem, or festival, occurs near Imilchil, at the site of the burial place of Sidi Mohamed El Maghani, the patron saint of the Ait Haddidou. Legend has it that the marriage which were blessed by this holy man were happy and long-lasting thus the reason for the arduous trek to this isolated area.

At one time, this was an exclusive "family affair", with members of some fifty tribes from the region converging on the otherwise barren plateau for a Berber version of the family reunion and wedding celebration combined.

Now, those outsiders hardy enough to make the grueling trip are also welcome to participate in the festivities, the affairs become now an international attraction for tourists from all over the world....welcome to Imilchil festival 2009. :)

Imilchil festivel

About The Imilchil Marriage Festival, Morocco

Imilchil is located high up in the lake plateau of the Middle Atlas Mountains in Morocco, inhabited mainly by the various Berber tribal clans. The Imilchil Marriage Festival, Morocco is the prime attraction of this place and takes place annually in the later days of August.

They say all great love stories are tragic. There’s one behind the Imilchil Marriage Festival, Morocco. It’s the story of two star-crossed lovers Isli and Tislet, belonging to two conflicting tribes, who drowned themselves in two mountain lakes. Legend also has that with the mountain separating the two lakes, their souls remained apart even after their deaths.

It is said that these deaths had the many Berber clans resolve to end their skirmishes and henceforth allow an individual to marry according to his/her desires. This resolve has seen the Berber tribes gathering in earnest at the Morocco Imilchil Marriage Festival and make merry. It is a festival where as many 40 couples take the marriage vows in a day.

In fact, men and women actually come to this Imilchil Marriage Festival looking for potential life partners. The women folk say “You have captured my liver” (the tribal version of “I do”) when they accept a marriage proposal.

Like most of the other festivals in Morocco, the Imilchil Marriage Festival too involves an outpouring of absolute joy and mirth. There are songs and dance performances and sundry shopping opportunities as a huge market also springs up here during the festival days. You can just get hold of some exclusive tribal goods like kilims and rugs, at these shops.


High in the desert territory of the Atlas Mountains in Morocco, lies a village by the name of Imilchil. Here, life is hard and locals are raised with a strong sense of culture and tradition. Not many outsiders come to this desolate Moroccan village, as the road that leads here is long, rough and almost inaccessible. However, each September, residents of the surrounding villages make the journey to Imilchil to celebrate the Imilchil Festival, also known as September Romance.

Even though the Imilchil Festival is a wedding festival, it is not a wedding venue and no-one gets married during this time. It is a Moroccan event that commemorates the love, the heartache and the tragedy that befell two lovers many years ago. According to legend, the lovers came from two Berber tribes that lived in the Atlas Mountains. As expected, their parents did not approve of the romance and forbade them from getting married. Torn between their families and the thought of a lifetime without each other, Tislet and Isli decided to drown themselves in the lakes nearby. But their story does not end there. They were unable to unite in death, as the mountain that separates the two lakes also separates their spirits, leaving them to yearn for each other in death as they had in life. After this event, families of the different tribes decided that both men and women would be able to choose their own life partner.

But the question still remains, why trek to this isolated village to attend the Imilchil Festival? Well, Sidi Mohammed El Maghani is buried here. He is the patron saint of Ait Haddidou, and it is believed that any union blessed by El Maghani will be prosperous and lasting. The festival is held to allow young men and woman from the various tribes to meet. Couples also get engaged at the festival, but tie the knot at a later time at a wedding venue of their choice. It is a joyful event that is accompanied by rhythmic music, great feasts, singing, dancing and of course…a little flirting. Woman available for marriage and who are seeking a husband are dressed in traditional attire, and men that are looking for a bride, are easily visible in their white dress.

For years this glorious wedding festival was a closed affair, with only family members of the respected tribes being allowed to participate. But as tourism and the interest in different cultures and traditions started to grow, even this intimate Moroccan festival had to start relenting to foreigners. Even thought most tourists and visitors to the festival try to remain unseen and not intrude on the proceedings, many fathers of future brides feel that their daughters are in jeopardy and do not approve of the visitors. Those who are able to attend the Imilchil Festival should consider themselves privileged and respect every ritual and custom of the event.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:wonderful traditions and folk believes.
  • Cons:every year it got changed a little bit, from tradition to modernity
  • In a nutshell:woooonderful atmosphere
  • Last visit to Imilchil: Aug 2007
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Comments (3)

  • angiebabe's Profile Photo
    Jun 17, 2012 at 9:17 AM

    Excellent start to your page - Ive been to Imilchil twice and the marriage festival once - hundreds of photos to take here and around the scenic area - but before digital camera so .....still need a scanner!nice to see yr photos thanks.....Now updating the comment here as its your birthday and youve still not come back to vt since last year! :( ...so now its Imilchil 3 times and marriage festival twice but that happened back in 2010.

  • oulissfan's Profile Photo
    May 5, 2009 at 8:17 AM

    thanks so much for your comments and i wish to meet you over here one day soon; i'm organizing a global meeting of different cultures and nationalities next August during the Festival of engagment so that. greetings for you all.

  • sachara's Profile Photo
    Feb 2, 2009 at 12:58 AM

    Interesting information, Imilchil is on my wishlist. Some day I hope to visit this place, especially during the festival.

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