This week’s fun is la Fête de la Musique. On June 21st when many cultures around the world are celebrating summer (or winter) solstice, France makes music. To enjoy the longest day of the year musicians of every style and ability gather to perform in public for free. In towns and villages across the country you’ll find such diversity as large rock concerts, school bands, church choirs, brass bands, recorder duets, folk groups, acapella singers, jazz bands, string quartets & solo guitarists just to name a few, taking to the streets. You’ll find them performing in squares and parks, on street corners, in churches and village halls. Everywhere!
La Fête de la Musique was created in 1982 by the then Minister of Culture, Jack Lang, from an original idea by Joel Cohen, an American musician living in Paris working at Radio France. He wanted to celebrate the music of the summer and winter solstices by encouraging amateur musicians to play in the streets for free.
The following year, in 1983, La Fête de la Musique became official and the slogan “Faites de la musique, Fête de la musique” was born (a clever usage of similar sounding words meaning make music, music fete). It has now spread to 110 countries across the globe, often known as World Music Day. Anyone can perform; there is only one rule, it must be for free.
I remember one of my first and favourite fêtes years ago in Paris wandering around the Place des Vosges. There were different groups every few meters in the covered arcades around the square, just spread out far enough not to interfere with each others’ sound but close enough that you were never without music as you ambled around. The acoustics were perfect.
You can check out the official programme here but there’s so much more on offer than that, particularly in smaller places. Since moving to the south most years I spend my time going between two great local events. Roquefort les Pins closes its main street to traffic, setting up food stalls and a night market with several groups of local school children playing in different parts of the town followed by a bigger band later.
Valbonne often hosts evenings along a theme such as a night of Big Band Soul. Take a look at one of the local lycée’s jazz band accompanying Memphis singer Toni Green below.
Is World Music Day celebrated where you are? I’d love to hear from you. Bonne fête!
What is Bastille Day, la fête nat
Here’s a PIN for later!
I love this, what a brilliant initiative and so good that it’s free for everyone.
Wow, it looks like so much fun was had. I love a good outdoor music festival/ event. Mich x
What a brilliant way to celebrate – it looks like so much fun x
I do love any festival with music, makes me want to get up and dance (I will leave the singing to the professionals though
What a fab way to celebrate the solstice and I love that the arts are so imporatant and recognised in France
Ah this reminds me so much of the life we have here (in catalunya) and I love the outside celebrations with music, laughter and families so so much!
We’ve been to a few musical events in France when we’ve been there and they are always such wonderful social things. I love this time of year with its long warm evenings, we haven’t decided whether we are coming back to France this year, if we don’t it will be sorely missed.
I haven’t seen much about World Music day near us but this sounds like a fun event to be a part of x
What a fun time for all ages!
Yes it’s very family friendly!
UK has some fun festivals too but doesn’t seem to participate in the world music day so much.
It’s true the French do these sorts of festivals very well.
It is a fun day that’s for sure!
I didn’t get to go to anything this year because of previous engagements – however driving through Condé, our local town on the way to collecting Ben from rugby, there was a band playing outside the brocante by the traffic lights. For once I was quite happy to be stuck on red for a while!
What a lovely idea. I wish we had something like that where we live here in Lincoln UK!
Sounds like a lovely festival, the continentals are SO much better at this sort of thing than the English!!
What a wonderful weekend! Love French culture xx
Hi Delia, I wonder why you see festivals in Quebec, is it because of the French influence, or just that you have the time to go to such things?
Sounds like an awesome festival, Phoebe – we usually get to see music festivals when we go on vacation to Quebec 😉
And thank you Robbie for your lovely encouraging words. Music is so important, many memories are formed around music and I agree with you that it does help us enjoy this world. I’m happy that you make you living as a musician. What do you play and where are you based?
I was born and raised in Sweden 🙂 So thank you
Thanks for this wonderful story, Phoebe. A fine example of our universal enthusiasm for music. For celebrating, of course, and for everything else, too. I’m able to make a living as a musician, because music magically helps people enjoy whatever they’re doing.
Thanks Kim, it was great fun. Thanks for commenting, I hope to see you on my blog again one day.
The Swedes do mid Somar so well, with long white nights. I’ve been to Sweden in June but not actually for 21st. I’d love to celebrate there. Thanks for stopping by Linda.
Sounds like a wonderful way to start off the summer! I hope you enjoyed it!:)
Sounds like a lovely way to celebrate 🙂 The Swedish celebration is also very musical, although it’s not dedicated to music.
Interesting to know the history of it all – thanks Phoebe.
Sounds like a lovely festival. I love the idea of the Progressivos; that’s what I’ll be doing this year but without the performers!!
What great timing Maria, this is such a fun time of year in France. I bet there are some good events in your area. 😀
Thanks for the reminder – I am lucky enough to be in Brittany this week so must find out what is on locally and take full advantage of this great event – enjoy!
Sounds wonderful! My husband sings in a choir which visits the Anghiari Festival in Tuscany each July. It’s so special to wander round a corner to find a group singing or playing. Some concerts are ‘Progressivos’ where the performers and audience move round the town with their chairs (and wine!) and pause to play. Enjoy yours in Roquefort!
have a fabulous time!