The « fête de la musique »: a typical French celebration or an international event?

June 21 is Music Day in several countries in the world. In France, it is a big event, celebrated in villages as well as big cities by all sorts of musicians and members of the audience. The event was actually invented in France in 1976, and then officially launched by the French government in 1982. June 21 was chosen because it is the summer solstice, the longest day of the year – a perfect night to have fun and stay outside with one’s friends.

In France, a lot of people take part in the fête de la musique as it really caters for all tastes! Many concerts are organized, with amateur musicians as well as professionals, playing all types of music, from classical music to rap or metal. But what really makes the fête de la musique special in France is the fact that everyone can take part: everyone has the right to sing or play an instrument in public places, on their own or with other people – which means all styles are represented, but also all types of talents. For some, it is a unique opportunity to have an audience and become more famous; for others, it is a good way of realizing they shouldn’t think of music as a career 🙂

To get the most out of the fête de la musique, I would recommend going to a medium-sized town – you will probably end up far from the musicians or in a huge crowd in big cities. Most of these towns publish the day’s program in bakeries, cinemas, etc… so you can choose the concerts you really want to go to. But I prefer just wandering along the streets, listening to various bands, and stopping when I really like the music. It is a good way to get to know new types of music, and also to discover instruments you didn’t even know existed!

Naturally, the fête de la musique does not only have fans in France. As it happens on June 21 (a Monday this year), many people have to get up early the next day to go to work and do not really want their sleep to be interrupted in the middle of the week. However, everything is done to reduce noise nuisance, and the atmosphere is generally very good.

The idea of the fête de la musique was implemented in several countries in the world, but I believe it has not yet become as important as in France. I would be interested to know how you celebrate music in your countries, or if June 21 has a completely different meaning for you.


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