When we planned our trip to Nice, we did not know it would be the start of Carnival season. But, while in town, we were able to watch the opening night show (free to all on that first night!) and enjoy some of the festivities. Thanks to our hotel clerk who told us about it and that we could get a free seat.
Earlier in the day we had walked through the Place Massena and saw the many seats that had been erected for the two-week long event. There was additional seating along the beach front Promenade area, which we were told would be for a parade. And the city streets were all lit up and decorated for the occasion.
We had made the assumption that the first night would be a parade and we got the best possible seats for to watch. Only there was no parade. It was a show that was taking place on the other end of the area from where we were. Thankfully, much of it took place up in the air so we could see it (check out my video for part of it) – people suspected in mid-air, spinning and dancing while others played violins. It was all very exciting at first, but then just seemed to drag on and on and on.
However, we amused ourselves by watching all the people, which was worth the price of the free ticket! Many were dressed up and there were lots of children who really enjoyed spraying each other with Silly String, which vendors were selling at a brisk pace. The costumes were fun and everyone was having a good time. It was quite crowded – all the seats had filled up and the street was completely packed with people watching the show. And the blue lighting made everything seem to glow.
It was a fun evening that we hadn’t planned on when we booked our trip – mere serendipity brought us to it and we have some fun memories of Carnival in Nice!
It's one of the world's major carnivals, with about 1 million visitors each year.
During two weeks on february, there is a lot of flowers parades, processions, fireworks and various festivities.
If you have to paid for the show during the flowers parades " quai des etats-unis" and on the terraces located "place Massena"during the corso carnavalesque , in some places ( jardins Albert 1er) access is free for the corso.
Nice Carnival takes place around February/March and is one of the most well-known 'fête' of the world. It's probably one of the busiest time in the area along with summer. This event attracts many tourists all over the world but mostly family with younger kids. Come to check how colorful Mardi Gras can be!
Prices for 2012:
Special 2 event rate (excluding Saturdays):
35 € reserved seating (Carnival Parade or Parade of Lights + Flower Parade)
Children rates :
Free access for children under 6 years old (no reserved seating)
From 6 to 12 : 10 € (reserved seating) or 5 € (entrance)
Persons in costume / Carnival Parade and Parade of lights :
Free entrance Place Masséna
Rates for the handicapped :
(for the person holding an invalidity card and their accompanying person)
10 € in reserved seating or special area
From mid to late February each year the city of Nice stages the Nice Carnival. On selected days and evenings - weekend afternoons and Saturday night the carnival procession dominates the city centre. Themes have a satirical contemporary resonance - climate change, all-devouring duplicity of commerce - all good French intellectual baloney, but everyone loves it.
The grand parades can be viewed free from the pavement without charge, or you can reserve tiered seating at the Tourist Office on the Promenade for around 15 euros. The spectacular "Bataille des Fleurs" however requires a ten euro admission ticket just to see the flower parade from the street, and the seating is more costly but grants an unimpaired view
The tradition with the parades is to spray "string" at everyone, and have great time during the parades. Each year the theme changes a little but the show goes on getting better, culminating in a spectacular firework display on the beach, cheered on by the thousands of carnival revellers
Every year, generally in the month of Feb. Nice holds their world famous version of Carnival. Its a festival of color, lights, and flowers and is a cleaner version of the Carnivals held in places like Rio, or New Orleans. In Nice they have a Flower, Light, and Carnival Parade. The latter is the main parade and is the one parade to see out of the three in my opinion. Held in both the afternoon and evening on certain days during the week, the Carnival Parade illustrates everything that is marvelous about Carnival in Nice. There are exquisite, well detailed floats, dancers and costumed freaks to match the theme of Carnival for that year. There is plenty of confetti and silly string to go around, which helps to make the parade interactive and fun for the kids as well as the adults. If you planning on visiting Nice during the low tourist season, be sure to plan your visit around Carnival!
The website gives you the Carnival programme - there is the Parade of Flowers, the Light Parade (which is at night) and the Carnival Parade which is the main parade but the 3 parades are held on different days at different times.
I unfortunately missed the parade of Flowers as I was too caught up with driving the sights from Castellane to the Gorges of Verdon and then fitted in a quick visit to Moustiers and then drove down to Nice, an hour and a half away, for the Night Parade.
Which was rather fun and interesting - a huge turnout and most seemed to be locals - throwing confetti and a sort of spray can stuff that turned to sticky rubbery stuff - people were copping it down their backs and in their hair! but easily removed.
The theme this year was Rats, Bats and Cats - and whatever the theme seems that it tends to be on the gruesome side of the theme! but some fun or laughable floats!
The next day when I was trying to get off to drive along the Moyenne Corniche and get back for the 2pm Carnival Parade I saw the floats that Id seen in the parade the night before come down a side road which I was able to take photos of which was great as at the Night parade after taking a few shots Id run out of digital battery and camera film! Plus after being told no the parades are different so I should really attend the afternoon one as well - obviously Id seen the floats already so off I went!
Tickets are able to be bought for the parades so that you can sit at the enclosed seating area for a better or uninterupted view but at the night parade tickets were not compulsory and there was plenty of opportunity of seeing the floats that came downt the Promenade du Anglaise around the city centre.
A good time to visit Nice is during Carnival time - held annually mid February.
A ride on the big wheel in the Town Centre is a great way to get a panoramic view of the surrounding area.
In the pic you can see just a 'small' section of the tiered seating assembled just for the Carnival.
The annual Nice carnival takes place both day and night during 2 weeks in February. It features numerous floats, giant balloons and performers. This year's theme was the King of The Deranged Climate. It ran along the Promenade des Anglais due to the tramworks on Av Jean Medecin where it usually takes place.
Many people have cans of plastic string and bags of confetti, so expect to get hit at some point! You don't really need to buy tickets, there were many places on the route to see the carnival, and as my son commented if you were sitting in one of the stands you wouldn't be able to spray anyone properly!
In the run up to Lent, the tradition of Carnival in Nice has been the model for many others in the world.
Truly a spectacular event, the Carnival parade of dozens of huge "grotesques" and costumed themes is staged both during the day and by night, when it is at its most visually impressive. The event culminates in a grand firework display on Mardi Gras ("Fat Tuesday")
My travelogue shows a few of the highlights of 2004 - King of Cloning