Every fall the indigenous Berber people of northern Morocco gather in the mountain village of Imilchil, about four hours from Fez, for the traditional Imilchil Marriage Festival. While the dates shift based on the lunar calendar, the three-day event will take place this year September 23 to 25.
At the Imilchil Marriage Festival, youths from different tribes get the opportunity to meet potential spouses. Hosted by the Ait Hdiddou tribe, families from neighboring villages and their children of marrying age will meet to socialize around traditional rituals including singing, storytelling and dancing. Twenty-five thousand people participate in the festival, which includes an engagement ceremony followed by up to 40 marriages that take place around the tomb of a patron saint.
The reason the Imilchil Marriage Festival came to be is an interesting but sad story. Two young lovers from enemy Berber tribes killed themselves after their families prevented them from marrying because inter-tribal marriage was forbidden. Following this tragedy, the families granted freedom of choice to their children to marry whom they choose.
If you’re interested in attending yourself, you can fly to Casablanca and take a connecting flight to Fez. From there, you’ll take a four-hour drive to Imilchil. Sarah Discoveries and Journey Beyond Travel also offer tours.
For a more visual idea of the festival, check out the video above.
“Travel” is an activity many of us associate with leaving home in search of the new and unfamiliar. But the truth is, there are some strange and wonderful sites in the places we live, often right under our nose. It’s the idea behind a great event called Obscura Day, kicking off its third year this April 28 in cities across the US and the world.
Sponsored by Atlas Obscura, a website devoted to exploring the world’s “wonders, curiosities and esoterica,” Obscura Day aims to give participants insider access to local curiosities they might have overlooked, including access to typically off-limits locations and “unusual” guided tours. For instance, explorers in Philadelphia are invited to tour the spooky abandoned Eastern State Penitentary. Meanwhile, in Boston, participants will have a chance to partake in a mysterious murder-themed scavenger hunt through the Museum of Science. In Alameda, California, gaming fans should check out this chance to play vintage 30s and 40s pinball machines at the Pacific Pinball Museum.
Wherever you happen to live, head over to the Obscura Day website and type in your zip code to find out what’s going later this month at a location near you. It’s sure to be a chance to rediscover the surprising history, unique attractions and unexpected activities you might otherwise take for granted in your hometown.
Burning Man 2011 has come to an end. Friends of mine who attend every (single) year are home from the journey, spiritually awakened, refreshed, and tan. That seems to be how most Burning Man folk return back to their respective homes once the festivities are over with. Burning Man is a week-long event held every year in Black Rock Desert, Nevada. It’s called ‘Burning Man‘ because a giant effigy built from wood is burned at the festival. 50,000 people traveled to Burning Man this year from near and far. In fact, for the first time in the history of Burning Man, the 2011 festival sold out. All in all, it’s a pretty big deal. All not-so-nice stereotypes aside, I honestly would like to experience the event myself. Maybe next year.
In the meantime, check out this video. Fixed around the (what makes it so catchy?) song “Home” by Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeroes, this video gives you a little bit of insight to Burning Man 2011.
WARNING: While nobody is completely naked in this video, there is plenty of skin to be seen. Use your own discretion before playing this video in the office, in front of your small children, your green-with-envy girlfriend, and, of course, your grandmother.
In just 40 days, the Nomading Film Festival will descend upon the lively HI New York Hostel for a night of cinematic exposition that will showcase a lineup of short films from travelers, vagabonds, and video buffs around the world. If you’re looking for a night of entertainment or just a chance to meet and network with other travel aficionados, then book your ticket for the NoFF today.
In the spirit of journeying during periods less traveled, I’ve embarked to Alaska this winter. Follow the adventures here, and prepare to have your preconceived notions destroyed along the way.
A glimpse at the variety of events that make up Alaska’s Fur Rondy
Alaska’s Fur Rendezvous Festival is a real treat. The 2011 version is the 76th annual running of the event, and particularly over the past four years, things have been looking up for those involved. This year’s edition kicked off with a serious bang — the weather in Anchorage was absolutely amazing, and locals and tourists alike flocked to downtown in order to witness (or participate in) thoroughly Alaskan events like the Frostbite Footrace, dog weight pull, ice and snow sculpture carving and multi-tribal dance gatherings. The event is one that’s cherished by Alaskans all over the state. For one, it gives everyone a chance to come together and celebrate the awesomeness that is Winter in Alaska. Secondly, it gives Alaskans a reason to celebrate the impending arrival of Spring.
I had a chance to experience Fur Rondy as an outsider, but left feeling like someone who was welcomed with open arms. Peek the video above for a glimpse into the real magic behind this event, and read on for a bit of perspective that I gained from picking Ernie Hall’s brain.
%Gallery-117714%For those unaware, Ernie Hall is fairly big deal in Alaska. He moved here in 1959, the same year that Alaska gained statehood. Needless to say, he’s seen every single thing that has happened to The Last Frontier since becoming an official state within the US of A. For the past four years, he has been an integral part of organizing Fur Rondy, and I was able to sit down and pick his brain about the event. Currently, he sits on the board, and his job to ensure that sponsors are found, events are organized and that the community plays an integral part in everything.
According to him, Rondy had “fallen on hard times” a few years back. The issue was simple: the event had been ushered away from the locals, and turned more into a commercial spectacle. In truth, it’s the communities within Alaska that makes this all so special, and if you remove the pride factor, you’ve sucked the heart right out of the event. When he stepped in, he took it upon himself to convince sponsors to give him “one more chance,” and he vowed to let the community run things once again. Evidently, that’s exactly what happened.
During my stay this past weekend in Anchorage, I saw beaming Alaskans at every event. Crowds were noticeable, and people were genuinely excited to be here. The events themselves went off without a hitch. Ernie said that the 45 days leading up to the starting weekend were the craziest 45 days of his entire year, but once the planning was nailed down, he found that enjoying Fur Rondy was the easy part. Indeed, the events schedule rolled on like a well-oiled machine, and as a spectator, I kept finding myself in amazement at just how well everything was put together and just how “Alaskan” everything felt. If you’re looking for a neck-deep dive into Alaskan culture, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better opportunity than at Fur Rondy.
This year, two events in particular garnered a vast amount of attention. The first is Yukigassen. It’s a sophisticated snowball fight that’s hugely popular in Japan, and the tournament held here at Fur Rondy was the first sanctioned Yukigassen event in the United States. The battles were intense, and from the sidelines, it certainly looked like gobs of fun. I’m giving it 12 months before places like North Dakota, Minnesota and other snow-filled locales pick up on it. Even The Travel Channel’s own Bert Kreischer (from Bert the Conqueror) made it out to join in the festivities, and we caught up with him for an interview here.
Not only did he sling a few snowballs at enemies across the field, he also participated in the World’s Largest Outhouse Race. He brought a crew up to Anchorage in order to race down a snowy street, pushing a gal in a customized Bert the Conqueror outhouse in hopes of claiming the gold. It’ll eventually show up in a future episode, but you can take a sneak peek from my footage here.
I departed Fur Rondy with one overriding realization: this festival is just magical. Visiting Alaska marked my 50th state, and it’s safe to say that it’s easily one of my favorites. There’s no question that this state is vast, but you’re able to get a handle on quite a bit of the culture by just spending a weekend or two at For Rondy. Just interacting with the folks who show up here is a real treat, and it’s already got my considering a training regimen in order to enter next year’s Yukigassen tournament. Who says a boy from the south can’t hang with these Arctic folks? (Well, I do, but I’m working on toughening up.)