La Fête de la musique an unique music event in France

La Fête de la musique is one of the most famous festivities in France. Indeed, who says Fête de la musique says all types of music from rock to jazz to electro. Moreover, it takes place in almost every city in France once a year. Its objective is to bring people together through music. As time goes by, it spreads in more and more countries.

What are the origins of the Fête de la Musique?

To your agendas! La Fête de la musique is an unmissable street music event taking place every year in France on June 21. It is the shortest night of the year, the summer solstice. Note that this date is close to the ancient pagan festival of St. John, which takes place on June 24.

The first Fête de la musique in France

La fête de la musique took place, for the first time, in 1982. It is under the impulse of Jack Lang, French Minister of Culture, that this event was created. Many French people were already playing an instrument at that time. However, each musician was playing and enjoying music from their side. Seeing this situation, the director of Music and Dance at the time, Maurice Fleuret, had the idea of promoting music by encouraging all musicians, whether amateur or not, to play in the streets. As a result, a movement gathered a large crowd of various musical preferences.

The following year, 1983, saw the appearance of the famous slogan of the music festival: “Faites de la musique, Fête de la musique” translated into English “Make music, Music party”. Actually, the French words “Fête” and Faites” are homophones, the pronunciation is the same. This slogan was intended to encourage all musicians to take their passion to the streets, regardless of their level. 

La Fête de la musique in the world

The Fête de la Musique is not only celebrated in France, but it is spreading all over the world. 1985 marks the beginning of the internationalization of the Fête de la Musique, other European countries have started to celebrate the Fête de la Musique on the occasion of the European Year of Music. This internationalization is realized in particular with the help of the French cultural network, such as the Alliance Française by the Ministry of Culture. In 1997, the charter on the “European Music Day” was signed in Budapest so that each country could acquire the right to celebrate the Fête de la musique. France has one condition: the respect of the principle of free music as well as the diversity of the music played and of the public. 

Following the creation of this charter, a website and a European Day of Music were created to democratize the event internationally. There are already more than 130 countries participating in the music festival, including the United States, Sweden, Belgium, and Switzerland. Each country has subsequently adapted the music festival. For example, in North America, Fête de la musique has become “Make Music Day” or “World Music Day”. France did not register a protected label on this event, the country wanted the movement to spread and become global. It should be noted that in the United States, the organization of this event is the responsibility of civil society and not the government as is the case in France.

How do the French celebrate the Fête de la musique?

Like all other celebrations, the Fête de la Musique is organized in advance but not always. It is obvious that the main actor at the center of this event are the musicians who share their common passion with the general public. There are also the political authorities who authorize them to appear everywhere in France. They take care of the administrative and communication aspects. Some concerts will have a proper music scene in the middle of a square, for example. Whereas, some bars might put some sound systems with some mixing tables in the street to make people dance. Some concerts will have a proper music scene in the middle of the square, for example. Whereas, some bars might put some sound systems with some mixing tables in the street to make people dance. 

Other organizations support the musicians financially. They take care of the logistic and technical side. It is partly thanks to them that the music festival takes place in France. Indeed, the musicians are present everywhere, whether it is in the train stations, in the streets or in the restaurants. In addition to bands and DJs, there are also choruses in the streets. Everyone can participate: novice, intermediate or professional.

From the year 2020, the celebration of the music festival has changed somewhat due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, it should be noted that its date does not change for the next few years. Covid obliges, most of the musical events are held online to avoid as much as possible the gatherings. A fun fact, in Paris in the 5th arrondissement, a giant karaoke was installed in 2020. 

What do the French do during the Fête de la musique?

The celebration of the Fête de la musique depends on the desire and financial means of the participants. It should be noted that there are two different ways to experience the music festival:

  • The traditional Fête de la musique is organized by the musicians themselves. They make sure to stand out in order to have more fans in the audience. This illustrates the real spirit of the music festival. It is for me the “real” music festival, the one that takes place for free outside in the street with more or less improvised artists.
  • The concert: during a concert, the musicians are generally already experienced. Concerts tend to take place in large French cities. 

Some people celebrate this event in restaurants or bars that offer snacks and drinks in addition to the music. There are also small concerts in various small towns. 

What is the atmosphere in the streets during the Fête de la musique ?

As participation in the music festival is free, it remains accessible to the general public. Therefore, it brings together French people of various musical preferences.

Since the Fête de la musique gives value to the French culture, it spreads in all the districts of France. Therefore, it is obvious that there is a lot of noise at night during this event.  The whole evening of June 21 is animated through musical diversity. The night noise is obviously prohibited in all the territories of France. However, it is tolerated exceptionally for the date of this music festival.

Conclusion

The Fête de la Musique brings together, in the space of an evening, a whole country. It brings a feeling of uniqueness, a particularly essential value. It is a perfect moment if you want to visit France, the good weather and the good mood are often around on June 21. However, it is worth noting that the date of the music festival varies from country to country and sometimes it can even last a few days. If you want to discover other musical events not to be missed in France, I recommend you to read my previous article: Top 7 French Music Festivals During the Summer.

Work cited:

https://www.challenges.fr/monde/fete-de-la-musique-un-modele-francais-exporte-a-l-etranger_481909