The History of Fête de la Musique in Paris

By Anne McCarthy

Every June in Paris, Fête de la Musique captivates the city to celebrate music on World Music Day.

If you’re lucky enough to be in Paris on Fête de la Musique, which occurs this year on Friday, June 21, 2024, you’ll want to be sure to indulge in all the offerings of this festive occasion!

Fête de la Musique occurs on the summer solstice, a symbolic day in many cultures. The celebration is a free event that takes place throughout the city and welcomes musicians and music lovers of all ages and abilities. It’s a bacchanal celebration of music across genres and cultures. It’s also the perfect musical celebration for all ages––young children to elderly adults can all be seen enjoying the riches of Fête de la Musique in Paris.

If you’ll be in Paris this summer, book a tour at Fat Tire Tours Paris so we can show you around the gorgeous City of Light! Our bestselling Paris Night Bike Tour is a summertime favorite, thanks to the adventurous vibes of this tour, which will have you riding through the streets of Paris and floating down a boat on the Seine River with a delicious cup of red wine in hand.

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The Origins of Fête de la Musique

The idea behind the creation of Fête de la Musique was to help expose more people to different types of musical genres and musical cultures. It was started in 1982 by the Ministry of Culture, and since then, every part of France has joined in to celebrate on June 21st to ring in the summer solstice with musical gusto. You’ll find ample Fête de la Musique celebrations outside of Paris, too.

Paris fireworks

Rumblings of the notion of the musical celebration started a year prior, when, in 1981, the Minister of Culture, Jack Lang, appointed a man named Maurice Fleuret to be the director of dance and music. Fleuret had the idea of “Music [that is] everywhere and concert [that is] nowhere!” It was a revolutionary idea for a global music celebration that felt like a revolution itself.

Since the idea began in 1982, many cities have joined together to create beautiful large band groups for performances and choirs for people of all abilities to participate in. School choirs perform, too, and it’s a great way to expose young minds to different types of music.

Fête de la Musique Outside of France

France is a trendsetter; from Chanel to champagne, you’ll find aspects of France all over the world and Fête de la Musique is one such French export, too. Fête de la Musique is a national event in countries outside of France, including Greece, Mexico, Luxembourg, Italy, Colombia, Ecuador, and more.

Man plays the saxophone with a yellow backdrop

As of 2017, a whopping 120-plus countries celebrated Fête de la Musique around the world. In 2022, it marked the 40th anniversary of “Music Day” events, and the scope of these musical celebration days is remarkable.

Fête de la Musique in Paris

In Paris, on Fête de la Musique, you’re going to experience one of the liveliest, soul-stirring, life-affirming moments in the City of Light. The city comes alive during Fête de la Musique as the streets fill with music and celebrations. In Paris––and beyond, all over France and all over the world––musicians and singers roam through the streets, opera singers perform in the Parisian arrondissements, and the party doesn’t stop until dawn. It’s a nighttime affair and is even more festive during the night.

Fête de la Musique is responsible for the revival of some traditional French music as well as an explosive interest in world music, and people coming together from all over the globe to experience a musical environment. The event also provides visibility to new artists and emerging musicians. It’s a fantastic way for artists and music lovers to meet and mingle.

There are free concerts throughout Paris on Fête de la Musique and people will be playing their instruments and singing in the streets throughout the city. This year, Fête de la Musique in Paris is sponsored by Education First (EF). EF will host a free festival featuring famous DJs, and it will start at 6pm on June 21 at Parvis de la Mairie du 15e. Come dance the night away at this fun and funky event!

DJ's hands over a set of turntables

To discover more events happening through Paris on Fête de la Musique, consult the program for Fête de la Musique, which allows you to locate the time and place for each registered concert in Paris and beyond the city. In addition to the free concerts and performers around the city, many hotels and rooftops in Paris will have their own celebrations, too. Typically, you’ll also find groups of people enjoying picnics in Paris during the daytime, soaking up all the music vibes in the afternoon and well into the night.

If you’ll be in Paris for Fête de la Musique, be sure to come visit us at Fat Tire Tours Paris for a tour! We would love to show you around this musical, magical city.

Anne McCarthy
 is the Editor in Chief of the Fat Tire Tours Blog. She is a contributing writer to the BBC, The Washington Post, The Guardian, Variety, Wired, and many more. She splits her time between the U.S. and Europe.

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