Fes Festival of World Sacred Music 2019: what you need to know

I read about the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music in 2000, and knew right away I just had to go. Something about the city of Fez appealed, though I had no idea what. The guiding principles of the Festival  felt right, too: bringing harmony to a world torn apart by conflict. So it was that in 2002 I attended the Festival for the first time, and I haven’t missed one since.

Started in 1994 as a response to the first Gulf War, the Festival is the brainchild of Dr Faouzi Skali, an anthropologist and Sufi scholar from Fez. He wanted to show that the world’s three monotheistic faiths – Judaism, Christianity and Islam – could exist in harmony and felt that music was the way to prove it. Since those early days, the Festival has broadened its scope to include the music of other faiths: Buddhist dancing monks from Tibet, shamans from Colombia, Chinese Noh opera, Japanese drummers – the array of performers never fails to delight.

The Festival also includes the Fes Forum, an opportunity for discussion and debate on Giving Soul to Globalisation. While the concerts take place in the afternoons and evenings, the Forum is held in the mornings. There’s a different theme each year: in 2017 it was Water and the Sacred; in 2018 it will be Ancestral Knowledge.

Practicalities:

Types of tickets:

Book seats through our sister site, www.fez-riads.com. You can book for individual concerts, take a pass just for the concerts, or a pass to the concerts and the Forum.

Free events:

There are free concerts in Boujloud Square each evening starting at 22h00, and Sufi Brotherhoods perform at Dar Tazi each evening from 23h00.

Nights in the Medina:

On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday several concerts are held each evening in various venues in the medina. These are intimate spaces, usually beautiful riads. There are carpets to sit on. You need to plan  carefully which concerts you want to attend (you can’t do all of them). Venues are signposted and there are lots of little boys around to show the way for a couple of Dirhams.


Seating:

There are two categories of seats for the evening concerts at Bab al Makina, A and B. All seats are unreserved, but the B seats are further back. It’s a huge auditorium (actually a parade ground in front of the Royal Palace) and the seating is raked, but the B seats are not at good as the A seats, as is reflected in the pricing. If you buy a pass, you automatically have A seats.

There is just one category of seating for the afternoon concerts at the Jnan Sbil Garden where seating is not raked.

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