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What is France’s Fête de la musique and what is going on near me?

From traditional sounds in Brittany to a beach party in Marseille, the music extravaganza is a key date in France’s cultural calendar

Fête de la musique is a time for amateur musicians to showcase their talents Pic: Alexandre Lepan / Shutterstock

Streets across France come to life every June 21 as revellers come out to enjoy the Fête de la musique

But what is this festival and how can you find out what is going on near you?

What is the Fête de la musique?

Fête de la musique is an evening to celebrate musicians and the music they make. Amateur and aspiring musicians and singers set up their equipment in public areas, anywhere and everywhere from street corners to local parks and play for the enjoyment of passers-by.

The event takes place every year on June 21, which falls on a Wednesday this year. 

Read also: Tax, gardens open, property form, strikes: Key dates in France in June

What are its origins?

Fête de la musique (literally Festival of Music) is young, only dating back to 1982. Then French Culture Minister Jack Lang and his music and dance director Maurice Fleuret created the event so amateur and aspiring musicians and singers could freely play their instruments or sing in public areas. 

Mr Lang and Mr Fleuret wanted the festival to take place on a symbolic day so it would be adopted quickly and by the biggest number of people possible. They chose June 21 for two reasons: firstly it is the summer solstice and it is also the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere.

Fête de la musique is now celebrated in more than 120 countries worldwide. 

Read also: Tina Turner had several links with France: here are five

Where can I find out what is going on near me?

The official website of France’s culture ministry has a map of all the official events taking place. It also has a search function so you can find out what is going on in a specific location and has tagged the events, so you can narrow your search to things that interest you, for example, classical music, young people or events where no reservations are needed. 

Key performances in French cities

Nice: A giant karaoke has been organised in Parc du Ray, “Nice Chante l’Europe !” (Nice sings Europe!) with general knowledge quizzes on the European Union and French and European songs shown on a giant screen.

Bordeaux: Dance and DJ collective La Sueur is joining forces with artists from the interdisciplinary queer house Ô Fantasme for a unique show in the courtyard of the Hôtel de Lalande (Musées des Arts décoratifs et du design). 

Toulouse: Vocal and instrumental company Eranos is giving an unusual classical music concert in the Carmélites chapel.

Montpellier: The city has organised six concerts on the Promenade du Peyrou, covering rap, rock, jazz and gospel genres, among others.

Rennes: The Breton music group Fleuves - which brings together Breton folklore and jazz rock melodies - is playing at the terrasse of the Hôtel de Courcy from 20:00.

Lyon: Lyon is celebrating Brazil this year, with singers, drummers and dancers parading all night in the historic town centre around Place Bellecour.

Lille: A classic concert celebrating local artist Benoît Joseph Boussu has been organised with three local groups at the Archives départementales du Nord.

Marseille: A huge concert has been organised on the beach in Marseille, in the 8th arrondissement. At least 10,000 people are expected to attend the event organised by Fun Radio Live.

Paris: Internationally renowned DJ Bob Sinclair will be hosting an event from 6 pm in Parc de la Villette.

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