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  • Riviera Insider editorial

Fête de la Music in times of Covid

The 21st of June is France’s biggest day for music, but it's looking a bit different this year. Here's what we can and can't do.


Every year on 21 June, all the squares and alleyways of France fill with people to celebrate music—from amateur performers to top acts. With every neighbourhood of every town and village coming alive with music, more than 6 million people across the country take part (under normal conditions).

All musical genres are represented, creating a joyous day of artful expression from Jazz to rap; classical to pop, acoustic instruments to deep house electronic. Whether it’s some live guitar in an alley, some drums a few streets over or the big stage in the centre, you are bound to get wrapped up in the celebrations!


Here in the Côte d’Azur, our cities usually go all out for the Fête de la Musique, booking chart-topping musical acts and old favourites as well. Nice has always gone all-out with a gigantic free concert in Place Masséna. Previous year’s concerts featured Sting and Shaggy, Christine and the Queens, MC Solaar, Amir, Bigflo and Oli and many more.


This year, however, will be a bit different, considering the health and safety protocols. The government has allowed the nation-wide fête, but Prime Minister Jean Castex spoke on Wed to pull the reins a bit with an outline of rules and regulations.

"No wild concerts causing crowds on the streets," he warned.


Therefore, concerts will only take place in front of a seated audience and a health pass will also be required to take part in authorised gatherings of more than 1,000 people in halls, with a maximum capacity of 5,000 attendees. This will be the first time the health pass will be used for large-scale events and the venues receiving the public must adhere to the strict protocol in order to proceed. Concerts in bars and restaurants, and impromptu events in the streets are prohibited, as well as improvised concerts by amateur musicians -- only professionals will be allowed to play. Any public gatherings and seating arrangements are limited to 10 people.


The end of our curfew was discussed for 'end of June' but this vague date was set officially for 20 June, ending one night before the music fest. Masks, as well have no longer been required since 17 June, although there is an exception in the case of public gatherings. Jean Castex specified that the end of the mask was possible "except in certain circumstances, such as gatherings, crowded places, queues and markets", meaning that the Fête de la musique will still require masks outdoors.


So, just as the curfew is lifted and masks are no longer required outdoors, the rules on public gatherings will be strictly enforced on the night so many people in France were looking to let loose. But, as Minister Castex explained, the government wants to avoid at all costs "events likely to generate gatherings and increase the risk of indoor contamination".


Check with your local restaurants and towns for a schedule of music.