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Highlights of Carnaval in Nice and a Bit of History

It was a “bucket list” item to visit Nice during the annual carnival period. The Carnaval de Nice is a long-standing festival in this French Riviera city and one more reason to visit. While the dates shift slightly each year depending on when Easter falls, from colourful parades to “flower battles,” the city is fun-filled for two weeks. So, I decided to visit for my birthday as it falls around the same time. Please read the original article on Barefoot Blogger. Here are some of the highlights of the Carnaval and a bit of history.

Nice Carnaval History

The Carnaval celebration in Nice goes back to the Middle Ages. It was intended as a period of indulgence and revelry before the solemn days of Lent began. Over the centuries, Carnaval has evolved into a celebration of Nice: the city’s culture and spirit. Carnaval in Nice is one of the world’s most iconic and beloved events.

Evolution of Carnaval Costumes: Wearing masks and costumes is one of the highlights of Carnaval in Nice. Outfits range from masks to extravagant costumes, each a testament to the wearer’s creativity. Over the years, Carnaval wear has been inspired by history, mythology, and contemporary culture.

Spectacular Floats and Parade: If you land in Nice and are clueless about Carnaval like I was, a glimpse around tells you it’s Carnaval. Massive floats with elaborate designs and vibrant colours take over most public spaces. Each float tells a story ranging from whimsy to history. When it’s time for the parade, the floats come to life!

Street Performances and Celebrity Sightings: Since the earliest events, Carnaval has been a time for entertainment, and street performers would entertain crowds with various acts, such as juggling, acrobatics, and comedic performances. These performances added to the festive atmosphere and amused spectators. Over the years, Carnaval in Nice has attracted its fair share of stars and dignitaries worldwide.

Highlights of Carnaval in Nice and a Bit of History

©CRT Côte d’Azur France:Soumaya BOUSSADOUN

Plan your Visit

The theme and exact dates for Carnaval de Nice change annually, but the event always lasts for two weeks. This French Riviera carnival rivals Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Venice, Italy, for its extravagance. Although carnival traditions are rooted in the Middle Ages, the first official event in Nice occurred on February 23, 1873.

The official program includes several parades during the daytime and evenings. The parade floats (usually 18) are decorated in flowers and characters to match that year’s theme.

On Wednesdays and Saturday afternoons during Carnaval, there are flower parades – Bataille de Fleurs. The parade floats are covered in flowers, and the riders are said to throw some 100,000 flowers into the crowd each time. This Carnival tradition dates back to the 19th century when carnation farming in the Nice area was the largest in France.

Tickets are required to access most events. There is a range of pricing depending on whether you want reserved seating or just entry into the viewing area. The standing-room-only ticket gives you a bit of flexibility to move around.

Some crowd gets into the festive spirit, dressing in costume.

Expect security checks at the entry to events. 

Plan to arrive in advance of the parades to secure a spot.

Visitor Guide to the French Riviera and Alpes Maritimes


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Deborah Bine

The Barefoot Blogger, aka Deborah Bine, loves to share tales of her solo life in France as an American expat who speaks no French. Retired from a career in advertising and marketing communications, and divorced after a 40-year marriage with children, Deborah left Beaufort, South Carolina and all of her belongings last year to move to the south of France. Now that she has found her "bliss," her passion is to encourage others to break away from whatever is holding them back and to go after their dreams. "We're on life's journey alone. Be certain you love where you are."

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