Fes Festival of World Sacred Music: 13-21 June 2014


This year marks the 20th anniversary of probably the greatest of world music festivals. The first one, in 1994, was organised by Faouzi Skali, a Sufi scholar, as a reaction to the first Gulf War. He felt that harmony in the world and between the three Abrahamic faiths could be achieved through music. The festival has expanded a great deal since those early days, and now encompasses music from all faiths and belief systems. M Skali is still the Director General.  This year promises to be very exciting, with wonderful artists: Youssou N’Dour with Johnny Clegg in a tribute to Nelson Mandela; one of the greatest Chicago blues musicians, Buddy Guy; top flamenco guitarist Tomatito; Jordi Savall, Françoise Atlan, Indian master of the tabla Zakir Hussain and the great Arab singer Kadem el Saher all bring a taste of east and west. There’s lots more: see the programme in English here, and order your tickets online here.
In the run-up to the festival, we’ll be bringing you news of what will be happening in addition to the music – which restaurants will be serving dinner at times convenient to concert-goers, all the fringe events and what you could be doing when there are no concerts.


Guesthouses are filling up. There are still options in all price categories, but it would be a good idea to book as soon as possible, especially to find accommodation close to concert venues. Contact us to make a reservation.

Fes Forum: Giving Soul to Globalisation

This year, the Forum has the theme Cultures and Identities in Transition. The Forum is held on the first four mornings of the festival at the Batha Museum. There are round table discussions every day, with themes as follows. Most of the discussion is in French, though some of the participants speak English. There is a simultaneous translation service via headphones into English and Arabic. We don’t have a list of participants yet. If you buy a pass, you automatically have access to all festival events, including the Forum. If not, you can buy individual forum tickets, or a day passes to all events.

Saturday 14 June: Mandela’s spiritual legacies: Lessons for our era

Sunday 15 June: Social harmony in plural, multicultural societies: what have we learned?

Monday 16 June:  Morocco: managing and savoring diversity – an ideal, a model, a challenge

Tuesday 17 June: What would Mandela counsel today to achieve peace in the Middle East?


Free Festival Events

There are plenty of free events at the Festival:

  • concerts at 22h00 every evening on Boujloud Square
  • Sufi Nights at 23h00 evening at Dar Tazi (map reference blue 2). A different tariqa or Sufi brotherhood performs each night until about 01h00 outside in the garden.
  • art exhibitions: these haven’t been announced yet, but usually take place at the Batha Museum and at Dar Tazi
  • children’s events: again, no details yet, but these take place at Al Houria Complex in the new city
  • this year the Hot 8 Brass Band from New Orleans accompanying Chicago blues legend Buddy Guy will be playing in city squares and in the medina lanes – watch out for them!




Special half-day group tour to Volubilis and Moulay Idriss

Join a group to visit the ancient Roman city of Volubilis, a UNESCO World Heritage site just 1 1/2 hours from Fez.  With its well-preserved mosaics, palaces, baths and soaring arches it is considered one of Morocco’s most important archeological sites.

After Volubilis, move on to Moulay Idriss, Morocco’s most venerated pilgrimage town.  It is said that, for Moroccans who can’t afford the trip to Mecca, making the journey to Moulay Idriss five time  in one’s life is of equal merit. The scenic village has lovely souks to explore and a number of panoramic views of Volubilis.

The special Festival price is Dh450 per person, which includes transport, a guided tour at Volubilis and lunch at a nearby farm. Duration 4 1/2 hours. Start at 09h00 at the Post Office in Batha, and return by 14h30, in time for afternoon concerts. This tour is offered every day between 13 and 21 June for a minimum of six people. Contact us to book.

Drum-making Workshops


In a fondouk (an old caravanserai) in the middle of the medina, we introduce you to a specialist drum-maker who will help you to choose an unfinished earthenware tom-tom drum. Test some drums to decide on the sound you prefer, and then choose your hide, which can be camel, goat or fish. You are then taught by the artisanal expert how to work the hide onto the drum by yourself and the skill of different stringing techniques to secure it tightly to create the drum’s tones.

Enjoy a drumming session with a professional local drummer to finish off the workshop. Create Moroccan rhythms and the beats of ancient times on your very own instrument.

Festival price is Dh450 per person. Saturday 14 and Sunday 15 June; duration 3 hours. Minimum 6 people. Meet at the post office in Batha at 10h00. Contact us to book.


Tasting Trails

Wind your way through the alleys and souks of the medina with a Fez food expert.

  • Visit three different food markets and try traditional Moroccan street food, including dried meats, local breads malaoui and harch, pastry parcels briwats, spicy sardines, makouda (potato cakes), soups, olives and more.
  • At the honey souk,  taste an array of delicious wild honeys, discuss their flavours and learn their health-giving properties: find out why honey is so important in Moroccan cooking and Islamic culture.
  • Investigate traditional cooking methods with a visit to a 400-year-old furan (communal oven) where the water for the hammam is heated and bread is baked.
  • Discover the world of spices and their uses, as well as the secrets of the male-oriented domain of the tea den, all under the  guidance of a culinary leader and story-teller.

Festival price: Dh450 per person. Duration: 2 1/2 hours. Saturday 14-Thursday 20 June. Minimum 6 people. Meet at 10h00 at the post office in Batha. Contact us to book.



With Nights in the Medina concerts starting at 20h00, it’s a good idea to eat early to leave plenty of time to get to the venue. Or you might prefer to eat much later in the evening. Here are some restaurants that will be serving dinner to coincide with Festival events.

Palais Amani

Palais Amani is offering its regular à la carte and set menu during the festival but extending opening hours.  The restaurant and the bar are open from noon to midnight for the festival week.
A la carte dishes start at Dh125  and the fixed menu is Dh350 for two courses.
There is also a tapas menu for alfresco dining on the roof terrace next to the bar.  Order the chef’s selection of tapas and enjoy a complementary festival cocktail for the perfect end to the evening.
Bookings essential for the restaurant on 05 35 63 32 09. Map reference: 44



A revamped Mezzanine will be open in time for the Festival. They will be serving from noon to 01h00 every day, with food from 13h00 to 22h30. There will be coffee, cakes and afternoon tea as well as the bar. Wifi. Excellent location between Bab al Makina and Boujloud Square, next to the Jnan Sbil gardens.

Riad Fes

Well-placed for all Festival concerts, Riad Fes will be serving dinner from 19h30 to 01h00. Reservations essential: ph 05 35 74 12 06. There’s a lovely bar here, too, as well as a poolside wine bar. Map reference 15.

Fez Café

Fez Café at Le Jardin des Biehn is open daily during the Festival from noon til midnight. Reservations preferred: 06 64 64 76 79. Map reference 5.

More to come soon: watch this space!