Founded in 1982, this hugely popular nationwide festival of free music will once again bring a wide variety of musical styles to streets, cafes, public monuments, parks, train stations and many other venues across France. Its organizers call it a “musical, cultural, social, joyful and colorful date to remember.'' This year's event, the 31st annual, will specifically pay homage to pop music. It happens on the day of the summer solstice in the northern hemisphere; the music begins in the afternoon and runs until midnight.
The Fête de la Musique is not only completely free, it's open to any musician, amateur or professional, who wants to play. The festival also encourages major music institutions (orchestra, operas, choirs, etc.) to perform outside their usual locations and, at the same time, promotes encounters and exchanges between young musicians and well-known talents.
The Fête has recently seen international expansion, as local organizers (Ministries for Culture, City Councils, local arts associations, etc.) have begun staging their own events. For example, a professional and institutional network called Fête Européenne de la Musique has recently been created.
If you're a musician or group who wishes to play, you can see a list of cities still looking for performers here.
Some of the better-known acts scheduled to appear are listed on the festival website, with many more to come. There's also some background info in English, here. A city-by-city list of performances is now being posted as the info streams in. But be aware that many impromptu performances won't make it onto the calendar--they just happen. ''Every musician is invited to go in the streets and play, and this all over France!'' says Anne-Claire Barthelemy, who handles press for the event. ''To give your readers an idea, tell them to just imagine that in the streets they can walk and find music everywhere.''