IN PICTURES: France marks annual street music party (including a rave at the Elysée)

French President Emmanuel Macron invited music fans to a socially distanced techno party at the presidential palace on Monday, reviving a pre-Covid event to mark the country's annual street music festival.

IN PICTURES: France marks annual street music party (including a rave at the Elysée)
A music enthusiast holds a French flag along the "Promenade des Anglais", as part of the French midsummer Festival of Music, "Fete de la Musique", on June 21, 2021 on the French riviera city of Nice. - "Fete de la Musique", which celebrates music in all its forms annually on June 21, the longest day of the year with a giant street party, comes this year a day after the government scrapped an 11:00 pm curfew, one of the last steps in a phased lifting of Covid-19 restrictions. (Photo by Valery HACHE / AFP)

France celebrates music in all its forms with a giant street party on June 21.

In 2018, Macron began throwing open the cobbled courtyard of the Elysée Palace to dance fans on that day, with a gig featuring stars from France’s electro scene.

Audience members sit socially distanced in the courtyard of the Elysee Palace as they listen to electronic music performer Irene Dresel during France’s annual fête de la musique music festival in the courtyard of the presidential Elysee Palace in Paris. (Photo by Ian LANGSDON / POOL / AFP)

French President Emmanuel Macron (L) delivers an opening speech, as his wife Brigitte Macron (R) and French electronic music performer Jean-Michel Jarre (C). (Photo by Ian LANGSDON / POOL / AFP)

This year’s Fete de la Musique comes a day after the government scrapped an 11:00 pm curfew, one of the last steps in a phased lifting of Covid restrictions.

Last year’s festivities went ahead but were muted because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Now, with the number of infections at their lowest level in nearly a year the country is in party mode once more.

While bad weather put a dampener on events in some cities, more hardy souls were undeterred.

Music enthusiasts participate in the French midsummer Festival of Music, Fête de la Musique on June 21, 2021 along the “Promenade des Anglais” on the French riviera city of Nice. (Photo by Valery HACHE / AFP)

“Seeing people, their smiles, it feels good,” said Laure, 40, who had taken her two nine-year-old children to a show despite the drizzling rain in the northwestern port city of Brest.

“We heard there were mini-concerts and we went out wanting to relax and enjoy ourselves.”

Music enthusiasts take part in the French midsummer Festival of Music, Fête de la Musique in Paris on June 21, 2021. (Photo by GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT / AFP)

Police disperse the crowd during the French midsummer Festival of Music. (Photo by GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT / AFP)

Jarre, Cerrone honoured

Groups of musicians from classical to rock played at pop-up events across the French capital, adding a new layer of life to the slowly reopening Parisian social scene.

Just days after the tennis open, centre court at Roland-Garros played host to around 40 artists, including Patrick Bruel, Vianney and Kendji Girac, performing in front of 4,000 seated and masked spectators.

Crooners gave way to dance tunes at the presidential palace, with French electronic music pioneer Jean-Michel Jarre and 1970s disco king Cerrone headlining the concert in the courtyard where Macron normally greets visiting heads of state.

A demonstrator fights with anti-riot gendarmes during a second protest to mark the second anniversary of the death of Steve Maia Canico, a Frenchman who died after falling in the river following a police raid during France’s annual nationwide Fete de la Musique celebrations in 2019, in the city of Nantes on June 21, 2021. – Steve Maia Canico, 24-years-old, went missing on the night of June 21-22, 2019, after officers in the western city of Nantes moved in to disperse techno music fans attending a free concert as part of France’s national music celebration day. (Photo by LOIC VENANCE / AFP)

Macron conferred Legion of Honour decorations on both musicians.

Jarre dedicated the award to “the whole electronic music family, the DJs… the technicians who have really suffered during the pandemic.”

In contrast to previous editions, where Macron and his wife Brigitte have gamely joined in the dancing, concertgoers had to content themselves with tapping their feet.

A rock band performs live music in Soufflot street in front of a Cafe, as part of the French midsummer Festival of Music, “Fete de la Musique”, on June 21, 2021 in Paris. (Photo by Ludovic MARIN / AFP)

Attendees were asked to remain seated and social distancing was observed.

To mark this year’s festival, the government announced that nightclubs, which have been closed for 15 months, will reopen on July 9.

Clubbers will have to present a new health pass showing they are fully vaccinated against Covid-19, have a clean PCR test or have already had the virus.

Masks will not be obligatory in clubs, which will only be allowed to operate at 75 percent of their capacity, Alain Griset, the minister in charge of small businesses, said.

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LISTEN: Five things to know about France’s Fête de la musique

The one day a year where your neighbours cannot be mad at you for blasting the music, and where everyone across France gets their groove on - here is what you need to know about the Fête de la musique.

LISTEN: Five things to know about France's Fête de la musique

It is on the longest day of the year Fête de la musique (music festival) takes place every year on June 21st – no matter what the day of the week is. This year, it falls on a Tuesday.

This day is also the longest day of the year and the summer solstice, so music listeners can soak up lots of daylight while jamming to the band, DJ set, or orchestra playing on their street corner. Celebrations on the summer solstice aren’t specific to France – Nordic countries, where the sun doesn’t set on June 21st, also have their fair share of festivities in the daylight.

It was invented by an American – The concept came about back in the 70s when American musician 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 solstices, originally proposing “Saturnales de la Musique” which would be celebrated on both June 21st and December 21st with a special musical program broadcast all night long.

His idea for the June festival did eventually catch on (although December 21st is not a festival day in France) and that’s how Fête de la musique as we know it was born,

It’s all over France…and the world – Fête de la musique is celebrated all over France, from small towns to large cities.

In 2019, over 10 million people took part, and depending on where you go, it does have the potential to get a bit rowdy.

It has also gone global, and over 100 countries celebrate it. It started being exported out of France as early as in 1985, during the “European Year of Music.” Then, in 1997, several other European cities signed onto a charter to be ‘partners of the European Music Festival.’ In the United States, several cities also take part, calling it “Make Music Day.”

It has become such a big deal that at one point in 1998 a postage stamp was dedicated to it, right alongside stamps for the Olympic Games and the Queen of England. 

It’s on the French calendar, but not a public holiday – In 1982 the then-Culture Minister Jack Lang, launched the first official edition of the Fête de la Musique in France, with the help of Maurice Fleuret.

The French government got behind the idea and made it an official event and it’s been popular ever since.

That being said, even though the event is marked on French calendars, it is not a jour férié, so you don’t get the day off of work sadly.

Professionals and amateurs alike – Fête de la musique is not just for professional musicians – it is truly a democratised event where anyone and everyone can get involved.

Though a lot of big name musicians take advantage of the day to plan concerts or symphonies, you’ll still see plenty of amateur musicians out on the streets just playing their instruments or singing. You might even see people just set up a big speaker and blast whatever music they feel like listening to.

The goal of the day is to promote the arts, and give everyone dedicated time to appreciate music.

If you’re looking to figure out where and how to celebrate, you can go to this website to see which events are planned.