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Fête de la Musique: Celebrating World Music Day in France

In France, ninety-seven percent of French people know about Fête de la musique (“World Music Day”)!

On World Make Music Day (or simply Make Music Day), France celebrates music and encourages anyone and everyone to create music, along with many other countries.

This is the most characteristic aspect of World Music Day: It encourages absolutely everyone to do some music; anyone can sing or play an instrument, alone or in a band, in public spaces. Hence the wide range of styles and talents during the Fête de la musique French festivals.

World Music Day in France is a prime example of how a country’s holidays can reveal what its people hold near to their hearts. And any successful language learner can tell you that comprehending a country’s culture is a necessary step in mastering its language. At, we hope to make this learning journey both fun and informative!

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1. What is Music Day in France?

Though sometimes referred to as the biggest music festival in France, World Music Day is completely different from a music festival. La fête de la musique, also known as “World Music Day,” is the celebration of music and life through free concerts and presentations, mainly outdoors, on the summer solstice each year. This popular manifestation encourages professional and amateurs alike to play instruments on the streets.

The idea of Music Day first appeared in 1976. It was conceived by the American musician Joel Cohen, who worked at the time for the radio station “Radio France” (France Musique). Back then, Cohen was proposing “Musical Saturnalians” for the two solstices, the winter one on December twenty-first and the summer one on June twenty-first.

After the presidential elections of 1981, Maurice Fleuret adopted the idea, which Jack Lang (then Minister of Culture) put in place. It took place for the first time on June 21, 1982, and was officially declared the following year. Music Day immediately met an increasing success, which has spread to this day well beyond the French borders.

2. When is World Music Day?

Musical Notes on a Page

On June 21, France celebrates World Music Day. This is usually on the date of the summer solstice, the perfect time of year for outdoor music fun! As mentioned earlier, the 21 June France celebration date for this holiday was chosen in 1982.

3. World Music Festival: France’s Celebrations

La fête de la musique (meaning “World Music Day”) is such a fun day. Anywhere you go, music is present. On Music Day, France is home to all types of music styles that are represented by young, talented musicians—from newly created bands to professionals making it their way of life. Concerts are organized with elaborate production, and musicians on their own or in small groups play with their instruments on street corners. Everyone performs for free, just for the pleasure of sharing their art.

People who appreciate the music, but aren’t actually playing, enjoy the day by walking through the yards of castles, schools, and town squares to enjoy the performances. The mature public usually appreciate orchestras, choruses, and operas which take place in scheduled places and times in large towns. The younger generations prefer to dance and party till dawn at programmed concerts offered by the city.

Bars and restaurants take on bands and musicians to attract people inside or on their patio. People can also find music playing in prisons, hospitals, airports, and subways.

French bars and restaurants usually have to close a little after midnight. But on Music Day, they’re allowed to stay open much later to welcome the public. Furthermore, the date of the twenty-first most often corresponds with the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. Night falls very late, so French people often use this as an excuse to continue celebrations late into the night!

4. Most Common Musical Instruments in France

A Music Festival

Do you know which musical instrument is played the most by French people?

In France, the most played musical instrument is the guitar, closely followed by the piano. But the piano is the instrument that is most taught in music schools, whereas many people play the guitar as amateurs, without a teacher.

5. Vocabulary You Should Know for World Music Day

Woman Playing an Instrument

Here’s some vocabulary you should know for Music Day in France!

  • Jazz — “Jazz
  • Rue — “Street”
  • Guitare — “Guitar”
  • Violon — “Violin”
  • Concert — “Concert”
  • Musique rock — “Rock music
  • Batterie — “Drums”
  • Festival — “Festival”
  • Fête de la musique — “Music Day”
  • Groupe — “Band”
  • Jouer — “Play”

To hear each vocabulary word pronounced, check out our French Music Day vocabulary list. Here, you’ll find each word alongside an audio file of its pronunciation.


Did you know about World Music Day before reading this article? Does your country have elaborate celebrations for Music Day like France does? Let us know in the comments!

To learn more about the culture in France and the French language, visit us at We provide practical learning tools for every learner to ensure that anyone can master French! Read more insightful blog posts like this one, study up with our free French vocabulary lists, and chat with fellow French students on our community forums! By upgrading to Premium Plus, you can also begin learning French one-on-one with your own personal teacher through our MyTeacher program.

Learning a new language, and absorbing the culture around it, is no easy task. But it’s well worth the effort and determination you put into it! And FrenchPod101 will be here with you for each step of your journey to mastery.