Fes Festival of World Sacred Music 2009 - FAQs

With interest in the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music hotting up, The View from Fez thought it would be a good idea to answer some frequently asked questions.

Where can I see the Festival programme?
The Festival's website is www.fesfestival.com. However, the programme can't be found there yet, and it's only in French. You can see the provisional programme in English here or on this blog, here. Keep watching The View from Fez, as there are always articles about the artists and events, before and during the Festival.

Where exactly is the Festival held?

There are several venues. Afternoon concerts (starting at 4.30pm) are held in the courtyard of the Batha Museum, marked as 'Musee Batha' on the map below. Evening concerts (starting at 8.30pm) are held at Bab Makina, the parade ground in front of the Royal Palace, in the far northwest of the medina. This lies west of Bab Boujloud on the map. There are free public concerts in Boujloud Square (Place Boujloud) at 6pm each evening. We don't have the colloquium programme yet, but this usually concentrates on global issues. It runs for four mornings, starting on 30 May and is held at the Batha Museum. There are also events held in the new city.

western side of the Fez medina

In Douh, you can see a small square named Place Sidi Al-Khayat. Here you'll find Dar Tazi, which is the Festival headquarters. Art exhibitions are held here, as well as a cafe litteraire and Sufi Nights that start at 11pm.

Where shall I stay?
Accommodation for the Festival period is still plentiful, but now that the programme has been released, guesthouses will start getting booked up. So the best thing is to make a reservation as soon as you can. See Fez Riads for a wide range of guesthouses and pensions. Bear in mind that it's a good idea to stay as close to the Batha area as possible.

How do I buy Festival tickets?
Contact Naima at the ticketing agency, Objectif Maroc. You can order tickets or a pass from her, and pay by credit card. Naima speaks English as well as French and Moroccan Arabic.
Objectif Maroc
9 Rue du Libye,
Fes Ville Nouvelle
Tel: 00 212 (0) 35 652 816/17/18
Fax: 00 212 (0) 35 624 993 or 35 621 776
Email: objectif_naima@menara.ma

Are there different categories of seats?
There are two categories for the concerts at Bab Makina in the evenings, A and B. The seats are unreserved, but the B seats are further back. It's a huge auditorium and the seating is raked, but the B seats are not as good as the A seats, as is reflected in the pricing. Note that if you buy a pass, you automatically have A seats. It's sometimes possible to buy tickets at the venue prior to the concerts, if it isn't sold out.
There's just one category of seating for the afternoon concerts at the Batha Museum, and it's a much smaller venue. Get there early if you want to grab a front seat.

How do I get my tickets?
You'll need to collect them from Objectif Maroc in the new city. This can be awkward if you're arriving on 29 May, perhaps tired from travelling, or with little time to take a taxi into the new city, find the agency and negotiate the inevitable queues. Taxi drivers invariably don't know where the office is, either.
You can use the ticket collection service provided by Fez Riads. Simply give Fez Riads your invoice number, and your tickets will be delivered to your guesthouse. The cost of this service is Dh300 if you're a Fez Riads client, or Dh400 if you're not. Just click here to find out all about it.

What should I bring?
For the afternoon concerts, a sunhat, suncream, sunglasses, bottled water ... maybe even a fan. For the evenings, bear in mind that it can get windy and chilly and sometimes rains. You might like a cushion for the somewhat uncomfortable seats. Most importantly, you'll need patience and a sense of humour. The Moroccan way of enjoying concerts is to talk through them and answer phone calls. They might also applaud in places where westerners wouldn't. It's simply a different way of appreciating the artists.

Please let us know if you have more questions and we'll do our best to answer them. Enjoy the Festival!

Map from www.fez-riads.com, reproduced by kind permission of PM Editions, publishers of Fès, from Bab to Bab, a useful book of walks in the medina.