French festival pays price as security burden increases

The much-celebrated Festival of Music in France is paying the price as football takes over and the security burden becomes ever greater.

French festival pays price as security burden increases
The fete de la musique in Marseille has been postponed this year. Photo: AFP

France remains in an official state of emergency, and security measures have recently been further tested by violent football hooligans causing problems in Marseille and Lille.

This has begun to have repercussions for cultural events across the country.

The upcoming annual Fête de la Musique (Festival of music), held on June 21st each year, should be a welcome and refreshing revival of positivity and fun across the country, after many difficult and challenging months.

Except for the fact that celebrations are having to be postponed and cancelled across the country, which is putting a dampener on the hugely popular annual festival.

The Mayor of Marseille Jean-Claude Gaudin announced Monday that the Fête de la Musique would have to be postponed by two days.

The decision was taken as Poland play Ukraine on June 21st in Marseille and the fixture is considered high risk by police, given the threat of hooliganism.

Marseille witnessed horrendous scenes of violence in the city before during and after England played Russia there on June 11th.

A large part of the festival traditionally take place on the streets, which in light of recent incidents and violence is no longer considered safe.

This will come as disappointing news to the people of Marseille, who have already been considerably inconvenienced by the football.

The music and sports festival that takes place each year on the beach of Marseille, the Sosh freestyle cup, has also had its date pushed back, with fears of repercussions of hosting it on the same beach where the Fanzone currently is.

Anne-Marie d'Estienne d'Orves, who is in charge of cultural action in Marseille said: “It is certain that we do not advise large-scale gatherings and it is logical that the Sosh freestyle cup concert should be postponed’.

Similarly, the annual free concert held in Paris at La Place Denfert-Rochereau has been cancelled, as French security for the Stadiums is prioritized.

Organizer Ricard S. A Live Music announced the disappointing news on their site:

“It has been decided that the concert has to be cancelled, in accordance with the important mobilization of security forces for the protection of stadiums and fan zones”.

There may be more cancellations and postponements to come.

Let's hope that the Tour de France, which is the next major sporting event in France, will not bring about quite the same display of abysmal behaviour that the football has and that the country will not have to suffer the repercussions in quite the same way.

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Fête de la Musique 2019: How to make the most of France’s biggest street music party

Friday marks the annual "Fête de la Musique" in France. Here's what you need to know about the country's biggest street music party and how to make the most of it.

Fête de la Musique 2019: How to make the most of France's biggest street music party
People dancing in the street in Lyon on Fête de la Musique. Photo: AFP

If you're in France on Friday, you're in for a good time as the country comes alive to the sound of music. 

If you want to get into the spirit of things, prepare to dance up a storm as impromptu concerts take over the streets. 

Here's a look at what you need to know about the event and how you can make the most of it. 

1. It really is a huge party

The festival is one of France's favourites, and Friday's 38th edition will see music performances cropping up all over the country to be enjoyed for free by the public. 
This wonderful event, largely spontaneous, animates squares, streets, monuments, schools, hospitals, towns and the countryside,” said Culture Minister Franck Riester. 
And it really is popular. To get an idea of the scale of the event, government figures say 10 million people have been taking to the streets in recent years.
This video shot at the 2017 event gives a good idea of the atmosphere on the streets in French towns and cities.

2. What's on 
Most events begin at 2pm and run till around 11pm, although many will go on much later (so if you live in a busy area, don't expect to get much sleep).
There are thousands of free events around the country for the public to get involved in, including choirs, DJ sets, classic music, rock and pop – something to suit all tastes.
This year the traditional concert given in the gardens of the Palais Royal in Paris returns after it was skipped last year and replaced with six regional concerts.
But even if you can't make it to the famous sites, there will be music of every kind in public areas all over the country. Both amateur and professional performers will be on show on the streets, in the pubs, even on their balconies.
In the capital, people usually flock to the city centre to see what the fuss is all about. Hotspots like Rue Oberkampf are normally swarming, but keep an eye out along some of the quieter streets if you're looking for something a bit more intimate.
Go to the official Fete de la Musique website for more information on events happening across France.
This website has an interactive map for Fete de la Musique events (see below). There are so many events planned that you can even select the style of music you like together with the city you're in just to narrow it down. 


3. You can party with the president 
For the second consecutive year, French President Emmanuel Macron is inviting people to celebrate the event at the Elysee Palace.
This year's event at the Elysee will put the spotlight on female musicians, with French indie folk duo Brigitte, Iris Gold, Pongo and Irish group Saint Sister, all set to grace the stage at the presidential palace. 
And you might even get a glimpse of the big man himself, with the French leader and Brigitte Macron making an appearance at last year's concert (see video below). 

Find out more about the Elysee event here.
4. Join in with the joint sign-along of the European anthem

There is one part of 2019's Fete de la Musique which makes it stand out from the events of previous years. 
The Ministry of Culture is encouraging everyone to perform an interpretation of the European anthem Ode to Joy – composed by Ludwig van Beethoven in 1823.

This is supposed to take place at 8pm on Friday as a “unifying event” for all the European countries celebrating Fete de la Musique. 
This brings us on to our next point…
5. It's an international event
The rest of the world didn't take long to feel the beat of the festival, and it soon became an international success too. This year, 120 countries are expected to participate.
The festival is known in English as Make Music Day or World Music Day, as the French title is a homophone that can mean both (the slogan is “faites de la musique” which is pronounced the same way).
The festival was carried out in 700 cities around the world last year, in countries as far as Russia, Brazil, and Australia. 
But as usual, the biggest party this year will be in France which typically has too many events to even count. 
Photo: AFP


6. The party is the brainchild of an American
The concept came about back in the 70s when American Joel Cohen was working as a music producer for French National Radio (France Musique).
He came up with the idea of a day full of music to celebrate the summer solstice on June 21st – the longest day of the year – and the idea caught on. 
By 1982 the French government put its weight behind the idea and made it an official event and it's been popular ever since. 

7. The event hasn't always gone smoothly
But it's not all smiles and laughter, as the event has proved controversial in the past. In 2014, 50 venues in Paris boycotted the event as part of a protest of the “abusive behaviour” of police, who had been cracking down on late night noise in the area.