Music invades the streets

The Carnival and Mid-Lent are big events for the people of the North of France. The day is often considered bank holidays and is a unique occasion for the dressed-up population to sing and party in the streets. This represents the biggest event of the year for the music society. This is the occasion to pursue the musical traditions as well as enriching their repertoire with exclusive compositions.

Singer of the Carnival, a collection of songs designed to amuse the participants of the Blocquel Carnival, Simon-François (1780-1863). ©Gallica

Sometimes, independent societies would organise their own parties, such as the charitable society of the “Incas” in Valenciennes. Philanthropic and carnivalesque, this society organised in May 1851 a big three-day celebration. Music contests, as well as various games, concerts, balls and a couple of costumed historical allegorical marches were organised. The present music societies would lead the march, singing songs that had been written for that occasion.