Nice Carnival

February 11, 2016

Running from 13 February until the end of the month, the Nice Carnival is one of the biggest events in the city, and the main winter event on the French Riviera. In fact, it’s one of the biggest carnivals in the world!

Each February, the city is taken over by over a million tourists and visitors to the city, as well as the local revellers, for a party which rivals just about any other. A theme is chosen for the carnival, and artists design 18 floats and other figurines, made from papier mache for vibrant and colourful parades which take place both day and night.

The first records of a carnival at Nice date all the way back to 1294, when Charles Anjou made reference to the “joyous days of carnival”, which suggests it may be even older than this. This potentially makes the Nice Carnival one of the world’s oldest carnival celebrations!

However, we know for a fact that the carnival’s first flower parade took place in 1876 on the seafront. Soon, it became an annual tradition for wealthy people to drive their carriages along the sea front, handing out flowers from the windows.

These days 90% of the flowers thrown from the floats are grown locally, and the parades are used to promote the fantastic quality and variety of flowers grown in Nice. Each year, between 80 and 100,000 flowers are thrown from the floats which roll through the promenade, helping Nice showcase its horticultural and botanical know-how.

These days, the carnival is also famous for its LGBT event, Lou Queernaval, which is a free event based around the virtues of tolerance and co-existence. There’s also a socca party, where you can taste the classic chickpea flour crepes, but beware, they’re addictive!

The carnival closes each year with the Burning of the King and a firework display, where a papier mache effigy of the carnival king is burned at the coast, with an illuminating display of phenomenal fireworks. A truly unique way to end a truly unique carnival.


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