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Fête de la Musique: What you need to know about France's biggest street music party

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Fête de la Musique: What you need to know about France's biggest street music party
Street performers get down to the beat in 2015's festival. All photos: AFP
12:31 CEST+02:00
Wednesday marks the annual "Fête de la Musique" in France. Here's what you need to know about France's biggest street music party.
1: It really is a huge party
 
The festival is one of France's favourites, and Wednesday's 36th anniversary will see music performances cropping up all over the country to be enjoyed for free by the public. 
 
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. In 2015 there were some 17,000 events nationwide including 1,500 in the capital. 
 
This year there will be 18,000 events around the country.
 

(Children in Nantes, western France, joining the festivities. Photo: AFP)
 
This video shot at the 2014 event gives a good idea of the atmosphere on the streets on French towns and cities.
 
 
 
 
2: This year it's going to be hot
 

This year, the sun will be shining and temperatures are set to hit 36C, so it’s set to be a hot day for the 36th edition of the festival.

Most events begin at 2pm and run till around 11pm, although many will go on much later.

“The Day of Music Festival is an opportunity to share a simple celebration around the diversity and spirit of music,” said the Minister of Culture, Françoise Nyssen.

"It is more than an extraordinary evening party, it is the symbol of an ambition, that exceeds June 21st and which drives us every day of the year" she told Le Parisien.

Unlike in previous years there will be no set theme to this year's event as the minister felt there was no need.

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.

One of the main attractions is set to be the concert being held in the garden of the Palais-Royal. For six hours there will be non-stop musical performances, with a youth concert starting off the night, and ending with acts from Coely, Tony Allen and AllttA.

Speaking about the concert Nyssen said it was “an accessible program for all, with amateur musicians, professionals, participatory projects, young, to the most recognised on the international scene.”

In public areas all over the country there will be free music of every kind. Both amateur and professional performers will be on show on the streets, in the pubs, even from 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 cozier.
 
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. 

Go to fetedelamusique.fr for more information on events happening up and down France.

This website has an interactive map for all the events in Paris.

3. France will party amid heightened security
 
As you might expect given the ongoing threat from terrorism, the 36th Fête de la Musique will take place amid heightened security.
 
There will be an extra 48,000 police and gendarmes on duty backed up by 7,000 soldiers.
 
"It will be a matter for the security forces to guarantee a visible and regular presence, as well as a permanent capacity for intervention," said the country's Interior Ministry.
 
Although anyone who has been to a concert in France in recent years will be used to heightened security which includes bag and body searches.
 
And just like in 2016 certain big street concerts won't take place at all, notably the open air ones at Denfert-Rochereau and Bastille in Paris.
 
 
4: The party is the brainchild of an American
 
The concept came about back in the seventies 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. 
 
 
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. 
 

(People dance on the street in Lyon, central France. Photo: AFP)
 
 
6: 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.
 
 
 
 

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