Travel to Morocco in June 2018

Casa Mosque
Casa Mosque

The Fes Festival: Spirituality, the Arts, and Interfaith Encounters in Morocco

June 22 – July 1, 2018

Led by:
Professor Neal Walls

Festival Description

Since 1994 the historic North African city of Fes, Morocco, has hosted the annual Fes Festival of World Sacred Music. Musicians and dancers come from across the globe to perform and share in intercultural and interfaith conversations. The nine-day festival celebrates “the spiritual heart of Islam—peaceful, pluralistic, generous and cheerful” as it honors the diverse spiritual traditions of the world. Each day of the festival features a morning forum, an intimate afternoon concert in the courtyard of the Batha Museum, an evening performance outside the medina’s medieval gate (Bab Al-Makina), and a late-night exhibition of Sufi chants and dancing (dhikr) from various Moroccan brotherhoods. Academic topics include Islam, Sufism, world sacred music, and Moroccan culture, history, and literature.

The theme of the 24th festival in 2018 is “Ancestral Knowledge.” The schedule of performers has not yet been published (as of December 6, 2017).

View last year’s program.

Travel Logistics

Since many pilgrims may choose to spend a few days in Paris, Madrid, Marrakesh, or other places before or after the festival, everyone will make their own flight arrangements. We will have a central hotel, but travelers are also free to make other arrangements for themselves (such as a cheaper hotel or a romantic Riad in the Old City).

The festival begins on the evening of Friday, June 22. The basic plan is for pilgrims to fly into Casablanca and take the train (under 4 hours) to Fes (under $12). The most efficient path is to arrive Friday morning and take the train from the airport directly to Fes in time for that evening’s first performance. (The only flight from Casa to Fez is at 11 at night.) Those on a more leisurely schedule could arrive on Thursday, spend the night in Casa (on the beach), tour the beautiful Hassan II mosque and then take the train to Fes that afternoon. More adventuresome travelers might want to break up their trip in Madrid or Paris, in which case they might find a direct flight to Fes and skip Casa altogether. Neal plans to fly from Charlotte to Marrakesh a few days before the festival, then take the train to Casa to meet arriving pilgrims on Friday. We can take the train (or a private car) to Fes together on Friday.

The festival runs from Friday evening, June 22, through Saturday’s (June 30) final evening concert. There are multiple events on each day in between, including morning discussions, afternoon concerts, evening concerts, and Sufi gatherings late at night. During the days, we will tour the extensive old city (the medina) and plan day trips to local sites at Meknes and Volubilis.

For departure, one could rise early on Sunday morning (or any other day) to catch to the 6:00am flight to Casa (under $150), and then fly home later that morning. Those on a budget can take the train to Casa on Sunday, spend the night (at the beach) and fly home on Monday morning. Pilgrims are free to arrive or leave early or late for the festival, as best fits their individual circumstances.

As with any international trip pilgrims must hold a US passport, valid for six months after our return from Morocco, and purchase the travel insurance through Wake Forest University.

Approximate Program Costs

Flights currently under $1,300
Tickets $350 (for full access)
Hotels $350 (for double room)
Program Fee $225 (payable to the School of Divinity)
Total approximately $2,225 + meals, trains, and personal expenses


Contact Hilary Floyd, Program Associate for Community and Lifelong Learning, today!

Mevlevi and Uzbek during the Fes Festival
Mevlevi and Uzbek during the Fes Festival