Fête de la Musique or World Music Day/Make Music Day is my most favourite festival in Paris. It’s celebrated on 21 June (summer solstice) every year.
In 1976, the idea was conceived by an American musician Joel Cohen, who worked for Radio France (France Musique). He proposed dedicating a day to music and celebrating a full day of music on the summer solstice and the winter solstice. However, it was only in 1982 that the French government declared June 21 as Music Day and ever since then, the longest day of summer has never been the same again.
The idea was such a success that not only has it spread throughout France but it is now celebrated in more than a hundred countries across the world.
What happens on this day? So Fête de la Musique is a day (and night!) when all of the city’s parks, gardens, monuments, bars, restaurants and streets come alive to the sounds of music played by both amateur and upcoming artists, as well as well known established groups. The idea is to celebrate music and encourage and support upcoming and local artists while providing the public free access to all these concerts. Basically, the streets of Paris become one huge party!
My sister’s visit coincided with the festival so we decided to head towards Rue Mouffetard, a street in the 5th arrondissement of Paris in the Latin Quarter. An important thing to understand about this festival is that tons of events take place simultaneously all across the city. So where you want to be and what you want to see is a tough choice. I decided to go take my sister to the Latin Quarter area as it is one of my favourite areas of Paris. I just love walking in the area and Rue Mouffetard, a beautiful cobbled street, is one of France’s oldest streets, dotted with restaurants, cafes, bakeries and stores.
Everyone comes out on the streets to sing and dance and you will see the young and the old celebrate the day together. Every corner you turn, your ears might end up hearing something different – from jazz to DJ sets of techno music to plain drums and trumpets – anyone with anything to play is out there on 21 June!
The festival usually starts in the afternoon and goes on until mid-night or so but at some venues revellers might be able to enjoy it even longer. We hung around in the Latin Quarter area for most of our evening because there was enough for us to hear and do just around there. Towards the end of the evening, we were actually quote tone deaf! A lot of people prefer hanging out in their own neighbourhoods but mine being mostly residential, I was glad to have strayed.
I was fortunate to be in Paris for the festival’s 38th edition in 2019. Given the current situation with COVID-19, fingers crossed for the 39th edition this year.
Date: 21 June every year
Place: All over Paris and France