This Friday, June 21st is the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, and that night the Fête de la Musique 2019 is celebrated all over the world. Now in 120 countries and 700 cities, this musical holiday was started here in France by the French Minister of Culture, Jack Lang, in 1982. The Minister of Culture actually got the idea from his Director of Music and Dance, Maurice Fleuret, who sought to create a revolution in music – making it available to everyone without the hierarchy of genres. They weren’t really sure back in 1982 if this first holiday was going to be a success, but that night musicians set up everywhere in public places and thousands of people participated. 37 years later, the celebration is still going on every year during the night of the summer solstice.
The Fête de la Musique is the chance for the French and visitors alike to come together outside to enjoy live music of all different kinds: rock, rap, electronic, folk music of various countries, jazz, and classical. One can hear newcomers who don’t usually get the chance to perform on stage in front of audiences in addition to well-known musicians. The best part about the Fête de la Musique is that all of the concerts and events are free. The shows are held outdoors in public spaces, like parks and squares, or at the town halls of each arrondissement.
Most of the concerts begin around 6pm, depending on the neighborhood, and can last until midnight. During la Fête de la Musique fares are reduced on public transport and some of the metro lines run all night. If you check out the official website fetedelamusique.culture.gouv.fr you can click on an interactive map which will let you filter the concerts by location and type of music. Within Paris there are over 70 concerts listed, taking place all over the city, so you can choose to stay in your arrondissement or travel to other neighborhoods if there is a particular style of music you would like to hear.
Below are some of the biggest events taking place in central Paris for the Fête de la Musique 2019:
- The symphonic concert by the Orchestra of Paris under the Louvre Pyramid, starting at 10pm. This is free but spaces may be limited.
- At the Église Saint-Eustache, next to Les Halles, they are holding their 14th annual 36-hour long Festival de Saint-Eustache where they will have a marathon of free concerts within the gothic cathedral, which should sound spectacular under the vaulted ceiling. The event begins at 6pm on June 20 and will run all the way through until late in the evening of the 21st.
- In the Place du Palais Royal, there will be a concert of traditional music from the island of Réunion, an overseas French department in the Indian Ocean.
- The Grand Palais will hold a concert celebrating Soviet composers, in alignment with its current exhibition about Soviet art, featuring singers from the Conservatory of Paris. This show begins at 6:30pm.
- If jazz is your thing, Sunset Sunside will have a series of concerts paying homage to jazz greats like Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra and Duke Ellington. These start at 6pm and end at midnight.
- At the Museum of the Legion of Honor, there will be a brass orchestral concert on its Esplanade beginning at 6:30pm and followed by a second show at 7:30pm within the courtyard of the museum.
We hope these tips help you plan for your Music Day experience in Paris. If you’re interested in discovering more about Parisian local culture & lifestyle, don’t hesitate to book our most unique experience: A Day With Locals private full-day walking tour!
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