France is famous for festivals, especially music ones – and the summer solstice of 21st June sees one of its biggest and most all inclusive celebrations sweep the country. Set up by the Ministry of Culture, the annual Fête de la Musique (Festival of Music) is a hard-hitting one-night wonder, during which musicians of every style and standard perform live in bars and basements, in gardens and station halls, on beaches and on streets. Jazz, soul, funk, rock, electro, reggae and classical music are all celebrated with vigorous enthusiasm.
It all began in 1981 when Jack Lang, then Minister of Culture, found from a cultural study that five million French (and one child out of two) played a musical instrument – and he looked for a way to bring people out onto the streets to enjoy music as a community. The first Fête took place in Paris the following year. Since then it’s become an international phenomenon, celebrated on the same day in more than 700 cities across 120 countries.
Amateur and professional musicians are equally encouraged to perform – donating their time for free – under the slogan “faites de la musique” (literally “make music”, a homophone of ‘Fête de la Musique’). And as the Ministry’s aim was to make music accessible to all, every performance for Fête de la Musique is completely FREE to attend. So put on your dancing shoes and enjoy a night on the town!
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