A historical event AND a party. Where do we sign up?
“Carnival” conjures images of Rio de Janero, and Venice: women in bedazzled bras and big hats, men in masks, and lots of drinking. What you’re probably not thinking of is Nice, France. Yes, that little town in the south of France on the French Riviera hosts one of the largest Carnivals in the world, attracting over one million visitors during two weeks of festivities. This year, the Nice Carnival is February 11th-25th.
In order for Catholics and Christians to best enjoy the final days before purging all excesses from their lives for Lent, they overcompensated. Everyone could be teased, be who they wanted to be under a mask, and feel free from social constraints—no rules!
The contemporary carnival includes a phenomenal parade of massive proportions, both in attendance and size of the floats. Seventeen paper mâché floats work their way through the crowds to arrive on the Place Masséna. Every year, there’s a “King” (or theme) and this year, the King/theme is “King of Energy.” Whatever the float designers consider to be King of Energy, we’ll only know once the grand floats roll down the street, music blasting and lights flashing. Over 1,000 musicians and dancers from all over the world perform during the parades, keeping the party going.
If a quieter, less claustrophobic, less intoxicated activity interests you, go see the “Flower Battles.” Unlike the parade floats which seem rather like the things of nightmares, the flower battle floats are real-life dream worlds. Stunning floral arrangements setting a scene, presenting extraordinarily costumed characters who tell a narrative on their float. The flowered women topping these floral floats toss flowers into the onlooking crowds.
Since this is a costume party, people in “full fancy-dress” receive free entrance to the standing area Place Masséna for the Carnival parade (but not the flower parade). Unfortunately, a mask or simple hat won’t help you make the cut, you have to be decked out. See information on suitable costumes.
Because the safety of festival goers is the top priority, the opening and closing ceremonies, the Nice Carnival Run, Lou Queernaval, Carnival Swim, the Giant Zumba, and closing fireworks have all be canceled. The parade area itself is a “100% secure enclosure.” The ferris wheel and children’s carnival are both still occurring in Jardin Albert I.
Route (route is the same for all events)
Floats will pass through Place Masséna (zone A) and will turn around the Promenade du Paillon (zone B) (see map). This route means that the Promenade du Paillon garden will be closed before and during events.
Cost (prices vary due to various proximities one could be to the parades)
Adult tickets: 12€ at the door, 26€ for reserved seating
Children 0-5 tickets: free
Children 6-10 tickets: 5€-10€
Special 2 event rate (excluding Saturdays): 40 € reserved seating (Carnival Parade or Carnival Parade of Lights + Flower Parade)
Persons in fancy-dress / Carnival Parade and Carnival Parade of lights: Free entrance Place Masséna (zones A and B)
See all ticket prices here, and book tickets here.