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Sacred Music in Santiago - Spiritual music in one of the world's greatest pilgrimage destinations

Admission to the concerts is exclusive to those who take one of two packages, which include accommodation, flights from London (optional), travel by private coach, most dinners, interval drinks and daily talks on the music.

With a maximum audience size of 170 in Santiago, of whom just 70 can opt for The Camino extension, we highly recommend you contact us soon to secure your place.

  • Sacred Music in Santiago
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Festival package

Sacred Music in Santiago only, 28 September–2 October 2019

— Five private concerts in the finest sacred spaces of Santiago.

— Hotel accommodation for four nights in the historic centre.

— Flights between the UK and Spain (reduced price if you arrange your own).

— Private coach travel between airport and hotel, and to one concert.

— Breakfasts and three dinners with wine, interval drinks where appropriate, all tips.

— Talks on the music by Professor John Bryan and Nigel Short.

— The assistance of festival staff and a detailed programme booklet.


The Camino

The Camino with Sacred Music in Santiago 26 September–2 October 2019

— Nine private concerts and musical interludes.

— Hotel accommodation for six nights: two in Zamora, one in Santo Estevo Ribas de Sil and three in Santiago.

— Flights between the UK and Spain (reduced price if you arrange your own).

— Travel by private coach. ­— Breakfasts, two lunches and five dinners (one is light) with wine, interval drinks where appropriate, all tips.

— Talks on the music by William Lyons, Peter Phillips, Nigel Short and Professor John Bryan.

— Introduction to Zamora Cathedral by Gijs van Hensbergen.

— The assistance of festival staff and a detailed programme booklet.


Optional extras

In addition, there are extra services that can be booked:

— An extra dinner, which means each evening is spent in the company of other festival participants.

— Guided tours by John McNeill in between concerts, in Santiago only.

— Pre-festival tours to the The Camino package: Ancient Kingdoms of Castile & León or The Renaissance in Castile.

­— Pre-festival tour to the Sacred Music in Santiago package: Walking to Santiago.

— Post-festival tour: Art in Madrid.


Introduction to the festival

The goal of countless pilgrims for twelve hundred years, Santiago de Compostela is one of the world’s greatest pilgrimage destinations. Remote, compact, radiating a gritty beauty and infused with spiritual history, this little Galician city in northwest Spain is an ideal setting for a festival of sacred music.

This is a festival of music that lifts the spirits and speaks of celestial glories, music that touches the heart and leads to contemplation of higher things. The repertoire comes from far and wide: England, Estonia, Flanders, France, Italy, Mexico, Spain. While some has a direct connection to the Camino, more importantly it all in some way reflects or is analogous to the experience of the Christian pilgrim, seeking to transform earthly tribulations into heavenly joys.

For some of the audience, there is a unique opportunity to expand on the pilgrimage experience by participating in a musical journey – ‘The Camino’ – that starts three days before the main event and some two hundred miles southeast of Santiago.

The enchanting city of Zamora in western Castile was one of the key stops on the pilgrimage route between Seville and Santiago. Replete with a denser concentration of Romanesque churches than anywhere else – and yet amazingly little-visited – Zamora makes an ideal base for the opening concerts.

From here the Camino audience travel cross-country into the depths of Galicia, a region of misty mountains, vine-clad river valleys, remote chapels and utter tranquillity. Our journey is broken by music in a monastery and small country churches. The final stop is Santiago, where the two audiences unite.

Santiago de Compostela grew up around the alleged tomb of St James the Great, which was miraculously rediscovered in the ninth century in the Galician highlands. Among the best-preserved historic cities of Europe, a labyrinth of streets, stairways and plazas threads around imposing churches and monasteries, mighty palaces and rank-and-file houses and shops. The centre is almost completely unspoilt by modern intrusions.

On the headland of Iberia not far from the Atlantic, rain is frequent, mist common, and pines and deciduous forests cloak the surrounding hills. Inhospitable topography, intractable stone: granite is the building material, the paving, the sculptor’s medium. There is scarcely any level ground.

Austerity and severity characterise much of the architecture, appropriately expressing the ideals of purposeful privation. But there is also an abundance of elaborate decoration, carved and gilded, profuse and prolix, awe-inspiring and uplifting; thus are the sentiments of Christian joy expressed.

Our concert venues are among the finest buildings in the city, Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque, reflecting Santiago’s status as a pilgrimage destination into the modern era.

The Camino

Thursday 26 September, Zamora

Morning flight from London Heathrow to Madrid, see Practicalities for details. From here we drive c. 3½ hours across the meseta to Zamora, with a break on the way, arriving in the early evening.

Zamora’s wonderfully preserved old town stretches along an escarpment overlooking the River Duero. It was a prominent stop on the Via de la Plata, the Roman road running north from Seville, which became a major pilgrimage route to Santiago in the Middle Ages. Further prominence came with the battles of the Reconquista, the architectural legacy of which is seen through Zamora’s remarkable Romanesque churches and city walls. Today, it is a pedestrian-friendly backwater, in the heart of one of Spain’s finest wine-making regions.

All of us stay at the Parador, installed in the Renaissance ‘Palacio de los Condes de Alba de Aliste’. Our first festival event is a drinks reception here, followed by dinner. First of two nights in Zamora.


Friday 27 September, Zamora

A morning talk in the Parador by musicologist Peter Phillips sets the scene for today’s concerts. From here it is only a couple of minutes on foot to the first venue: the 11th-century San Cipriano, one of the oldest and simplest Romanesque churches in the city.

Concert, 11.00am:
Zamora, Iglesia de San Cipriano
Beata Virgine

Marian Consort
Rory McCleery director

Josquin Desprez’s Missa de Beata Virgine forms the backbone of this programme, interspersed with motets by Compere, Weerbecke, Willaert and Byrd.

Free afternoon in Zamora, with the opportunity to hear a talk by Gijs van Hensbergen in the cathedral, and access to the remarkable 15th/16th-century Flemish tapestries in the adjoining museum.

We reconvene for supper and the evening concert in the cathedral. Much of the 12th-century fabric survives, including the extraordinary cupola of Byzantine influence.

Concert, 9.00pm:
Zamora, Catedral de San Salvador
Flanders & Spain

El León de Oro
Peter Phillips director

This programme features writing from Flanders and Spain. The Flemish half is dominated by a magnificent double-choir mass by Lassus, written in the Venetian tradition; the Spanish half is frameworked with motets by Francisco Guerrero, famed for his music in praise of the Virgin. In between we hear how Arvo Pärt could hymn her; and the young English composer, Matthew Martin, rewrites Guerrero’s Ave virgo sanctissima to give it a new perspective. Second and final night in Zamora.


Saturday 28 September, Puebla de Sanabria, Santo Estevo

We begin our journey north-west, pausing at the fortified hill-top town of Puebla de Sanabria. The main square is flanked by the 15th-century castle, Renaissance town hall and Romanesque parish church, venue for a short burst of music by the Dufay Collective.

Short concert, 12.00 midday:
Puebla de Sanabria, Iglesia de Nuestra
Señora del Azogue
Field of Stars: Music for a Medieval Pilgrimage

The Dufay Collective
William Lyons Artistic Director

The music reflects the public display of faith and devotion that was associated with pilgrimage in the Middle Ages. It is taken from three sublime Iberian manuscript sources: the Codex de Las Huelgas from the convent of Las Huelgas in Burgos, the Cantigas de Santa Maria from the court of Alfonso X ‘El Sabio’ and the Codex Calixtinus from Santiago de Compostela.

After lunch, drive into Galicia and an area known as the Ribeira Sacra. Here, tucked into a landscape of wooded hills and river valleys, is the monastery of Santo Estevo de Ribas de Sil. Although records date it to the 6th century, the church was consecrated in the 12th, and the first of three cloisters built in the early 13th. Painstaking restoration recently converted the monastery into a Parador and hence it forms our concert venue as well as our base for the night.

Talks by Nigel Short and William Lyons precede dinner. The concert follows in the adjacent church, Romanesque in origin and retaining a rare altar frontal with one of the earliest depictions of St James as a pilgrim.

Concert, 9.00pm:
Iglesia de Santo Estevo de Ribas de Sil
Russian & Baltic Liturgy

Nigel Short director

A contrasting programme between the overtly romantic, almost sentimental, approach of the Russian Orthodox liturgy with the more austere, devotional conviction of Baltic composers writing for the Catholic Church. Included are movements from Rachmaninov’s All-Night Vigil, music by Kalinnikov and Kedrov that is rarely heard outside Russia, alongside Łukaszewski, Pärt and Ešenvalds. Overnight in Santo Estevo.


Sunday 29 September, The Ribeira Sacra, Santiago de Compostela

Moving ever closer to Santiago, we spend the day in the deep rurality of the Minho river valley. It is simply beautiful: misty views, wooded hills, vine-clad terraces dipping to the water’s edge.

On a promontory high above the valley sits the crude – and tiny – chapel of San Martiño da Cova, venue for our concert. While half the audience attend, the other half enjoy refreshments at the neighbouring winery, and then switch over.

Short concert: 11.30am or 12.30pm.
Iglesia de San Martiño da Cova
Miracles from the Red Book

The Dufay Collective
William Lyons Artistic Director

The Red Book of Montserrat, the Llibre Vermell, was produced to provide instruction for 14th-century pilgrims visiting the shrine of the Virgin at Montserrat, high in the mountains near Barcelona. This concert presents a selection of the dance songs, rounds and sweet polyphony dedicated to the Virgin contained within it.

We lunch afterwards at a rustic restaurant. From here there is one more drive (c. 2½ hours) to Santiago de Compostela and the journey’s end.

Having checked into your choice of festival hotel, join participants who arrived in Santiago the previous day for an evening concert and dinner (see below).



Festival programme – Sacred Music in Santiago

Saturday 28 September

We fly either from London Heathrow to La Coruña, about 1 hour’s drive from Santiago, or from Heathrow to Santiago, via Madrid. See practicalities for more details on flights and hotels.

Settle into your chosen hotel before drinks and dinner. Sacred Music in Santiago


Sunday 29 September

The day begins with a lecture by musicologist John Bryan, his first of three during the festival.

The rest of the morning is free to become acquainted with Santiago or take an optional guided tour with architectural historian John McNeill.

In the early afternoon we drive out to the collegiate church of Santa María la Real de Sar. Built as a vaulted hall church after 1136, it is celebrated for the outward lean of its supporting piers and the sculpture of its beautiful cloister.

Concert, 2.30pm:
Colegiata de Santa María la Real de Sar
Flanders & Spain

El León de Oro
Peter Phillips director

This programme features writing from Flanders and Spain. The Flemish half is dominated by a magnificent double-choir mass by Lassus, written in the Venetian tradition; the Spanish half is frameworked with motets by Francesco Guerrero, famed for his music in praise of the Virgin. In between we hear how Arvo Pärt could hymn her; and the young English composer, Matthew Martin, rewrites Guerrero’s Ave virgo sanctissima to give it a new perspective.

Participants of The Camino arrive in Santiago this afternoon, in time to attend the first plenary concert this evening.

The mighty monastery complex of San Martín Pinario contains the grandest 17th- and 18th-century church in Santiago, the majestic interior enlivened by a wonderfully ornate gilded altarpiece which fills the east end.

Concert, 7.30pm:
Iglesia de San Martín Pinario
Spem in Alium: a celebration of music for double choir

Tenebrae & Alumni of Clare College Choir, Cambridge University
Nigel Short director

A programme of resplendent sacred music for single and double choir including Tallis’ Spem in Alium, Brumel’s Earthquake Mass, Croft’s Burial Sentences and Missa Ego Flos Campi by Spanish/Mexican composer Juan Gutiérrez de Padilla. Dinner follows the concert for everyone.


Monday 30 September

There are morning talks by John Bryan and Nigel Short. There follows a concert at the 17th-century church in the Convento de San Pelayo de Antealtares, dominated by a magnificent gilded and polychromed retable.

Concert, 11.00am:
Iglesia de San Pelayo de Antealtares
Antonio Caldara: Morte e sepoltura di Christo

La Serenissima
Adrian Chandler director
Julia Doyle soprano
Renata Pokupić mezzo-soprano
Hilary Summers contralto
Robert Murray tenor
Neal Davies baritone

Antonio Caldara arrived at the imperial court of Vienna in 1716 where he spent the rest of his life composing large ceremonial works for the Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI. Morte e sepoltura di Christo (sic) was one of many Sepolcro oratorios that Caldara composed for the court’s annual Lenten observance. It is scored for five soloists with an orchestra of chalumeau, two trombones and bassoon in addition to the usual strings and continuo.

The afternoon is free and dinner is independent, unless you choose to attend an optional dinner.

We gather in the evening for our concert at the Romanesque Cathedral of St James, built around the Shrine of the Apostle and ultimate destination of pilgrims.

Concert, 9.00pm:
Santiago Cathedral
Path of Miracles

Nigel Short director

Path of Miracles by Joby Talbot is a work based on the great pilgrimage to Santiago, commissioned by Tenebrae in 2005. With four movements named after key destinations on the Camino Francés, the work weaves together quotations from various medieval texts in Galician with passages from the Roman liturgy, and lines of poetry from Robert Dickinson, the work’s librettist.

Due to ongoing, extensive restoration works to the nave of Santiago Cathedral, it is unlikely that we will be able to hold a concert there as planned. Instead, we have made arrangements for Tenebrae to perform their Path of Miracles programme in the 17th-century church of San Agustín, but will continue to monitor the works on the cathedral right up until September, in case the situation improves.


Tuesday 1 October

John Bryan gives his final talk this morning. There is also further opportunity to join an optional visit with John McNeill, in the morning or the afternoon.

Dinner is arranged for everyone before the final concert. The church of the convent of Santo Domingo de Bonaval is predominantly Gothic, a rare example in Santiago, though the Romanesque apse survives. Among the Baroque embellishments are side chapels including the Pantheon of Great Galicians. Now deconsecrated, it houses the city’s ethnographic museum.

Concert, 9.00pm:
Iglesia de Santo Domingo de Bonaval
A Rose Magnificat

Gabrieli Consort
Paul McCreesh director

In this new programme Paul McCreesh and the Gabrieli Consort explore the diverse and extensive body of works dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary over the centuries. Music by Tallis, Taverner, Howells and Leighton frames the world première of a work by the young British composer, Matthew Martin: a setting of the Magnificat, interpolated with verses from the atmospheric medieval poem ‘There is no rose’.


Wednesday 2 October, Homeward journey

Depending on your flight option there may be further free time in Santiago. See practicalities for details of transfers and flights.

More about the festival concerts


All the concerts are planned and administered by us, and the audience consists exclusively of those who have taken one of the two festival packages.



Specific seats are not reserved. You sit where you want. Consider bringing a cushion for concerts in churches.



This festival is more concerned with locale and authenticity than with acoustic perfection. The venues have idiosyncrasies or reverberations of the sort not found in modern concert halls.



There will be up to 70 participants on The Camino and up to 170 participants on Sacred Music in Santiago.



Musicians fall ill, venues may close for repairs, airlines alter schedules: there are many circumstances which could necessitate changes to the programme. We ask you to be understanding should they occur.


Hotels, The Camino

Participants on The Camino stay together in the Paradors at Zamora (2 nights) and Santo Estevo (1 night) before choosing a hotel in Santiago for the final 3 nights.


Parador de Zamora


This 15th-century palace is the former family home of the first count of Alba de Aliste and is now a handsome hotel in an excellent location in Zamora’s old town. Many original features have been retained including the Renaissance patio and staircase.

The 52 bedrooms are both in the original palace and a modern annexe and are traditional in style following neutral colour schemes. They are spacious and well-equipped – and are mostly twin bedded.

Public areas are generous and include various sitting areas, bar, restaurant and garden terrace and are punctuated with tapestries and antique furniture. The outdoor swimming pool closes on 15 September and will not be accessible.


Parador de Santo Estevo


A former monastery that opened as a Parador in 2004 after an incredible restoration and renovation programme. It sits in glorious splendour and isolation in the wooded hills above the Miño and Sil rivers in deepest Galicia.

Behind a Baroque façade, the hotel is grouped around three cloisters – Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance. The 77 bedrooms are stylish and contemporary, but with a nod to the history of the building. There is a restaurant, café and spa and plenty of space to sit or wander.

Most rooms are twin bedded. Superior rooms are larger and have views of the river valley.


Optional extras on The Camino

You can opt for a superior room (two sharing) on The Camino – add £50 per person to the prices opposite.

Arrive a day early. Please let us know if you would like a quote for an additional night in Zamora.


Hotels & prices: The Camino & Sacred Music in Santiago

There is a choice of three hotels in Santiago; 3, 4 or 5 star.

They differ in size, architecture and style and yet they share a degree of austerity that prevails in northern Spain. All are within the historic centre and walking distance of all of the festival events bar one – for which transport is provided.

The hotel in Santiago is the sole determinant of the different prices for either festival package.

The prices given are all per person. Single rooms: prices quoted here as ‘single rooms’ are in fact singles in Santiago only – on The Camino, all sole occupancy rooms are doubles for sole use.

Price without flights: subtract £210.


Hotel San Miguel


A boutique hotel with all 16 rooms reserved for our audience. It is in an excellent position opening onto a small square, 200 metres from the cathedral and opposite San Martín Pinario. The hotel is known for its restaurant while further public areas include a seating area and terraced garden. Décor throughout is contemporary, veering towards minimalist in bedrooms.

Rooms for double occupancy have twin beds (‘Superior Double’) and are at the back of the hotel overlooking the garden. Those for single occupancy either have twin beds pushed together (‘Standard double’) or are smaller with a double bed (‘Single’). They overlook the square, some with views of surrounding churches.

Prices, per person

Sacred Music in Santiago only:

Superior double/twin £2,380
Double for sole use £2,610
Single room £2,540

Sacred Music in Santiago with The Camino:

Superior double/twin £3,730
Double for sole use £4,060
Single room £3,990


Hotel Monumento San Francisco


A spacious hotel within the imposing buildings of the still active Franciscan convent. The conversion has been carried out with dignity and restraint, retaining much of the historic structure including the two patios and refectory. Further facilities include a bar/café, restaurant and indoor swimming pool.

We have reserved 54 of the 82 bedrooms. These are modern with white-washed walls, themes of brown and beige and wooden flooring. Single rooms are small with a single bed.

The hotel is 300m from the cathedral and similarly close to two other concert venues.


Prices, per person

Sacred Music in Santiago only:

Double/twin £2,490
Double for sole use £2,730
Single room £2,610

Sacred Music in Santiago with The Camino:

Double/twin £3,840
Double for sole use £4,180
Single room £4,060


Parador de Santiago de Compostela


Founded in 1499 by the Catholic Kings, Ferdinand and Isabella, and for centuries the abode of the grander pilgrims, this is one of the best-known and architecturally ambitious of the historic hotels in Spain. Sharing one of the most monumental squares in the country with the cathedral, rector’s palace and town hall, its position is superb.

The hotel is arranged around four courtyards and the royal chapel. Further public areas include opulently furnished sitting areas, bar with terrace, reading room and restaurant. Bedrooms are decorated with a combination of antique and modern furniture, prints and rugs. Single rooms are small with a double bed while doubles for sole use may be twin beds pushed together.


Prices, per person

Sacred Music in Santiago only:

Junior suite £3,400
Superior twin/double £3,210
Standard twin/double £2,830
Double for sole use £3,220
Single room £3,130

Sacred Music in Santiago with The Camino:

Junior suite £4,750
Superior twin/double £4,560
Standard twin/double £4,180
Double for sole use £4,670
Single room £4,580


Optional extras in Santiago

Extra dinner. There is the option of an additional dinner in Santiago which ensures you eat in the company of other festival participants on all evenings. The price for this is £50 per person for two courses with wine. Please tick the relevant box on the booking form.

Optional visits. John McNeill leads guided architectural visits of Santiago. Full details are published nearer the time.

Arrive a day early. Please let us know if you would like a quote for an additional hotel night before the festival starts.


Travel options

Joining & leaving the Festival

A return flight from the UK is included in the cost of the festival. Participants can choose to join one of these or make their own flight arrangements (in which case there is a reduction in the price).

The only direct option that we are able to book for a group is from London Heathrow to La Coruña (an hour by coach from Santiago) with Vueling.

It is also possible to travel to Santiago de Compostela, via Madrid, with Iberia. This is the default option for participants on The Camino.

It is not possible for us to book flights until late 2018 so times are subject to change.


Flights: The Camino

26th September: depart London Heathrow at 10.40, arrive Madrid at 14.10 (IB 3175).

2nd October: depart Santiago at 13.20, arrive Madrid at 14.35 (IB 3875). Depart Madrid at 15.55, arrive London Heathrow at 17.20 (IB 3166).


Flights: Sacred Music in Santiago

Option 1

28th September: depart London Heathrow at 20.30, arrive La Coruña 23.30 (VY 7105). Should schedules stay the same, dinner will not be included for those on this flight and so £60 will be removed from your invoice.

2nd October: depart La Coruña 18.15, arrive London Heathrow 19.15 (VY 7104).


Option 2

28th September: depart London Heathrow at 10.50, arrive Madrid at 14.15 (IB 3175). Depart Madrid at 16.00, arrive Santiago at 17.15 (IB 3878).

2nd October: depart Santiago at 13.20, arrive Madrid at 14.35 (IB 3875). Depart Madrid at 15.55, arrive London Heathrow at 17.20 (IB 3166).


The no-flights option

You can choose not to take the group flights and to make your own way to Zamora or Santiago.

Ryanair currently fly to Santiago from London Stansted and Easyjet from London Gatwick, although not every day. Schedules should be announced towards the end of 2018.

If you book your own flight, you are welcome to join a coach transfer from Madrid airport to Zamora or to/from Santiago or La Coruña airports should your fight times coincide with ours. Pre- & post-festival tours Those on pre- and post-festival tours have different flight arrangements. In each case you can opt to make your own flight bookings and to pay the ‘no-flights’ price.


Fitness for the festival

Walking is the most convenient and in fact the only viable way of getting around Santiago (and Zamora) and you do so at your own pace. All but one of the festival events are within a 15-minute walk of the hotels. The exception is a concert venue slightly out of the historic centre, for which we provide transport.

Although distance might not pose a problem, there are hazards: paving is uneven and often cobbled, there are hills and steps to negotiate and narrow streets and squares are shared with taxis, delivery vans and motorbikes.

Participants need to be averagely fit and moderately nimble, able to manage everyday walking and stairclimbing without any difficulties.

If you have a medical condition or a disability which may affect your holiday or necessitate special arrangements being made for you, please discuss these with us before booking – or, if the condition develops or changes subsequently, as soon as possible before departure.

We ask that you assess your fitness before you commit to a booking, by trying the simple exercises from:

Are you fit enough to join the tour?


Pre- and post-festival tours

Ancient Kingdoms of Castile & León, 16–25 September 2019


Wednesday 25th September: Participants joining The Camino spend an extra night in Segovia and travel to Zamora on the morning of 26th September (c. 2 hours 30 minutes).

Wednesday 2nd October, final day of the festival. Join festival flight option 2 (see travel options above), arriving at London Heathrow at c. 5.20pm.

Price, per person (if combining this tour with The Camino)

Two sharing: £3,030 or £2,900 without flights. Single occupancy: £3,360 or £3,230 without flights.

If you choose to take flights as part of this tour, you will be charged the ‘without flights’ price for the festival.


The Renaissance in Castile & León, 21–26 September 2019


Thursday 26th September: Participants joining The Camino have a free day in Zamora, before the festival begins this evening.

Wednesday 2nd October, final day of the festival: Join festival flight option 2 (see travel options above), arriving at London Heathrow at c. 5.20pm.


Walking to Santiago, 17–28 September 2019


Saturday 28th September: Participants combining the tour with the festival have a free day before dinner with other festival participants. We recommend that you elect to stay at the Parador during the festival, in order to avoid changing hotels.

Wednesday 2nd October, final day of the festival: Drive to Santiago Airport in time for the recommended flight to London Gatwick (Easyjet, currently departing at c. 10.15am).


Art in Madrid, 2–6 October 2019


Thursday 26th September, first day of The Camino: fly from London Heathrow to Madrid on 26th October at c. 10.40am and travel by coach to Zamora.

Or Saturday 28th September, first day of Sacred Music in Santiago: Join option 2 (see travel options above) from London Heathrow to Santiago de Compostela, via Madrid, at c. 10.50am.

Price, per person (if combining this tour with the festival)

Two sharing: £2,090 or £1,900 without international flights. Single occupancy: £2,420 or £2,230 without international flights.

If you choose to take flights as part of this tour, you will be charged the ‘without flights’ price for the festival.