Terror fears to mute French summer solstice music bash

French Culture Minister Audrey Azoulay said in a statement that this year's event was about "overcoming our fears, fighting division, because music is stronger than those who want to shut it off".
French Culture Minister Audrey Azoulay said in a statement that this year's event was about "overcoming our fears, fighting division, because music is stronger than those who want to shut it off". PHOTO: AFP

PARIS (AFP) - France's annual summer solstice music extravaganza - a party it has exported across the globe - will be slightly muted this year amid terror fears and the Euro 2016 football tournament.

The Fete de la Musique (Make Music Day) sees citizens throng the streets to enjoy thousands of pop-up concerts - whether a marching band in a garden, a rock group on a corner or a Parisian playing DJ from his apartment window to a crowd below.

This year the theme for the festival's 35th edition on Tuesday (June 21) is "Music is stronger than ...".

Culture Minister Audrey Azoulay said in a statement that after two terror attacks in Paris killed 147 in 2015, this year's event was about "overcoming our fears, fighting division, because music is stronger than those who want to shut it off."

Nevertheless the party is likely to be dampened by terror fears as well as the threat of football hooliganism which has dogged the European championships.

On top of that, French people hoping for a break from the weeks of grey skies and rain in one of the most miserable springs in recent years, are likely to see the music festival hit by downpours.

The various security threats have stretched an already exhausted police force thin.

The Fete de la Musique "comes at a time when police are particularly busy", said a spokesperson at the culture ministry.

"After discussions with the interior ministry we decided to cancel or postpone certain events to prioritise the security of the public."

And after violent clashes in the southern city of Marseille before the Russia-England football match last week, the city decided to postpone its music party to Thursday due to a high-risk match between Ukraine and England on Tuesday.

Last year 17,000 concerts were held across France, bringing some 10 million music lovers, amateur and professional musicians out into the streets to enjoy everything from choral music, to rap and world tunes.

The festival was first created by former French culture minister Jack Lang in 1982 and last year was celebrated in 120 countries.