Moulay Idriss is a Holy City, and each year Muslim’s make the pilgrimage to Moulay Idriss, which is called the Moussem. As well as celebrating significant religious dates like the Prophet Mohammed’s birthday. To be a visitor to Moulay Idriss at this special time is a privilege to choose to do and experience. Moulay Idriss also hosts a number of other festivals – like the Beni Amar Donkey Festival, the Meknes – Volubilis festival, and more.
The Moussem is when dignatories, locals and surrounding villagers make the pilgrimage to the Mausoleum of Moulay Idriss. No two Moussem’s are the same as each one is for different reasons and people. The Moussem’s happen each Thursday night in the month before Ramadan, and the month after Ramadan is the Berber Moussem.
During this time it is still open for non-Muslims to visit Moulay Idriss, and it is infact welcomed that we are able to learn more about Islam in this Holy City. The atmosphere is festive and you can hear singing of the Quran into the night from the Mausoleum.
During the 30 days of Ramadan, Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset and it is not an easy task during the summer months. The dates of Ramadan move forward by approximately 10 days each year and there are good online references to inform you of when Ramadan is.
Of course it is possible to visit Moulay Idriss during Ramadan and tourists are welcomed, and it is a very different experience. During the day the coffee shops that would be full to bursting with clients sitting over a coffee for hours, are closed… All street restaurants are closed. About 2 hours before we break the fast the shops are bustling as locals are buying their food to break the fast with, fresh breads, fruits, cheeses, vegetables – it is a wonderful, abundant site.
And it is as the sun sets over the city, we hear the call to prayer that there is silence, just silence, as everyone goes to break that fast with their family and friends. From now the coffee shops are open and busier than before as locals greet their friends, stop by as they go too and from the mosque. And trumpets are played in the night to let the locals know it is close to time to start fasting. It is a wonderful atmosphere to visit in. If you are in Moulay Idriss during Ramadan, please be sensitive to the locals and do not eat or drink in public.
Please note that Dar Zerhoune is open for lunch for non-Muslims, even during Ramadan, so you can enjoy a lunch on the terrace as you watch over the views of Volubilis, mountains, the city and the valley.
Please read the following link about experiencing Ramadan in Morocco. http://www.lonelyplanet.com/travelblogs/235/125565/Breaking+the+Ramadan+Fast+in+Fez?destId=355491 (or use the View from Fez link).