Last year, over 800 cities around the world threw citywide music celebrations on June 21.
It all started 35 years ago in France.
In 1982, France’s Ministry of Culture dreamed up an idea for a new kind of musical holiday. They imagined a day where free, live music would be everywhere: street corners and parks, rooftops and gardens, store fronts and mountaintops.
And, unlike a typical music festival, anyone and everyone would be invited to join and play music, or host performances. The event would take place on the summer solstice, June 21, and would be called Fête De La Musique. (In French, the name means both “festival of music” and “make music!”)
Amazingly enough, this dream has come true. The Fête has turned into a true national holiday: France shuts down on the summer solstice and musicians take over. Almost 8% of the country (5 million people) have played an instrument or sung in public for the Fête de la Musique.
Three decades later, the holiday has spread throughout the world and is now celebrated in more than 120 countries. In the U.S., the presenting sponsor is the NAMM Foundation.