The Nice Carnival has been held for over 140 years and is one of the largest in the world. This event attracts up to one million tourists to the Cote d’Azur in the winter, costs 7 million euros, and consumes 20 tons of confetti.
The Carnival in Nice (Carnaval de Nice) takes place in February and is the largest winter event on the Cote d’Azur. Its origins date back to 1294, while the event as it’s known today has been organized since 1872. The carnival was invented to provide entertainment for the bourgeoisie wintering on the French Riviera.
Nowadays it’s an event for everyone. In 2009, over one million guests from around the world took part in the carnival. Every year, a 1,000 artists from many countries of the world participate in colorful parades along with 18 floats carrying huge puppets. The carnival budget for 2012 was 7 million euros!
Carnival in Nice – the Rio de Janeiro of Europe
The Carnival in Nice begins on a Friday evening in Nice’s Massena Square with the entrance of the huge King of Carnival puppet. For all the days of the carnival, the king stands right next to the Fountain of the Sun and takes part in all the parades. He is accompanied by the equally large puppet – Queen of Carnival. Every year the theme of the event changes; in 2015, it was celebrated under the slogan “King of Music”.
During the two weeks of the Nice carnival, a variety of events are held. The most important ones include the evening Light Parade (Corso Carnavalesque Illuminé) and the Flower Battle (Bataille de Fleurs), which is held during the afternoon.
The Light Parade is the most important point in the Carnival. The center point of the parade is Massena Square (Place Massena), where huge grandstands are set up for the public. Between these go a colorful procession of puppets and artists, everything is highlighted, and everyone dances to the rhythm of the music. During the event, every now and then, confetti is shot into the air, 20 tons of which is consumed each year! As with the Flower Battle, several Light Parades take place during the Carnival.
The Flower Battle is a colorful procession of vehicles richly decorated with fresh flowers. Those who are riding on the floats, dressed in costume, throw flowers into the audience, especially mimosas, gerberas, lilies, and roses. In total, up to 100,000 fresh flowers are used in one battle! 90% of these grow near Nice.
The Nice Carnival ends with the burning of the King of Carnival puppet and a spectacular fireworks show.
Carnival in Nice – practical information
The Carnival in Nice is worth seeing with your own eyes, however, it must be remembered that this is a ticketed event. Standing places during the parades cost 10 euros, while seats are 25 euros. You can also buy tickets for several events, which will be cheaper. Of course, children also have discounts. People dressed in colorful costumes can enter the event area for free. Unfortunately, the event area is well separated, so you can not see anything outside the area.
The event lasts approximately 15 days. Additional information can be found at nicecarnaval.com (also in English).