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The Fête de la Musique is an annual all-night music festival that takes place throughout France on June 21st, the longest day of the year. Started in 1982 by the French Minister of Culture Jack Lang, it’s now celebrated in 120 countries around the world.
Not Just Any Music Festival
What makes it special is that it’s a festival for everyone, where amateurs and professional musicians can both play their music and sing for the public, who get to enjoy music of every kind in the streets, in bars, in parks, and even in concert halls. All of the concerts are free, and all of the musicians, no matter who they are, donate their performances.
Finding the Concerts in Paris
There are few places in Paris you won’t hear music on the night of June 21st. You can just walk around your favorite neighborhood and follow your ears. But if you’re more discerning or want to be a bit more proactive, you can find concert listings on the following websites (you’ll need to auto-translate if you don’t understand French):
- The Official Fête de la Musique website has the Ministry of Culture’s entire program for the Fête de la Musique in France. They have an auto-translator on the site, although their search function is so clunky and slow, you’ll need to be patient with it (I wouldn’t even attempt it on a smartphone).
- Fête de la Musique Instagram
- L’Officiel des Spectacles has a pretty good list (without annoying ads), organized by arrondissement, with specific times and even the type of music by color code.
- Fête de la Musique website for Paris, on City Hall’s website, only shows a few concerts, but it has a handy map.
- Time Out Paris lists a dozen concerts with full descriptions, including ones at the Gaîté Lyrique, at the Chalet des Iles in the Bois de Vincennes, in the Parc de la Villette, in Saint-Eustache Church, at the Point Ephémère, and the Olympia concert hall.
Noise and Blocked Roads
If you happen to be in Paris, expect to see musicians starting to set up in the early afternoon, and to hear music on every corner (and possibly the balcony below your window) until the wee hours of the night. Bring your earplugs if you expect to try and sleep!
Getting around by taxi, car or bus can also be a challenge because many streets are closed off for the concerts. Luckily the public transport system has stepped up and offers all an all-night pass for a flat rate ticket of €4, valid from 5pm on the 21st until 7am on the 22nd.
The six main metro lines (1, 2, 5, 6, 9 and 14) and RERs A, B, C & D will run all night, but there won’t be access at all stations (see the map below). Night buses and Transilien trains will also be running all night for those coming from outside Paris.
In past years Vélibs were often locked down for the Fête de la Musique (at the request of the Prefecture de Police), so don’t rely on them as your sole mode of transport for the night (or, BYOB — Bring Your Own Bike!)
Want to Play Your Music?
You don’t actually have to register to play at the Fête de la Musique, but your concert will be listed on the official program if you do (at least a week in advance): https://fetedelamusique.culture.gouv.fr/en/en-pratique/espace-organisateurs/participez-a-l-evenement