Nice Carnival is one of the world’s oldest, first noted way back in 1294. Today it’s a glorious 12-day party between February 18th and March 8th, 2011, when the city of Nice erupts daily and nightly with parades of floats night and day culminating with Mardi Gras on March 8th.
Historically it was the last chance to indulge in rich foods and drink before the 40-day Lent fast, and the chance to disguise your identity behind fantastic masks and enjoy certain pleasures denied by the Catholic church during the rest of the year.
It begins on February 18th with the arrival of the carnival king in his Corso Carnavalesque (Carnival Procession) in the Place Massena. There are 20 floats based on this year’s theme of Le Roi de la Méditerranée (King of the Mediterranean), and giant puppets (called grosses têtes, or big heads) and 1,000 musicians, street artists and dancers from all around the world. The King takes the keys of the city and declares his brief reign of extravagance and excess.
There are spectacles during the Carnival as well as the world-famous Bataille de Fleurs (Battle of Flowers) which takes place on February 19th, 23rd, 26th, March 2nd and 5th. 20 beautifully designed flower-covered floats parade along the Promenade des Anglais beside the beaches of the Mediterranean with costumed men and women throwing around 100,000 flowers to the crowds. For the best view of this perfume-filled, colorful extravaganza, buy a ticket for a seat in the stands or for the designated standing area along the road.
The streets are full day and night with stalls selling gifts and food and a crowd of visitors there to have a good time and feel that the spring season is beginning.
On the last night, King Carnival is burnt. Then there’s a wonderful huge firework display to music over the Baie des Anges, the soaring fireworks reflected in the waters of the Mediterranean.
More InformationCarnaval de Nice 2011 website (French only)
Getting tickets to Nice Carnaval 2011 Events
Many of the events around Nice Carnaval are free, but there are charges for the parades and it’s worth it to get the best view. Tickets range from 10 euros standing to 25 euros on the seated stands.
Book online (French only)
5 Promenade des Anglais
Tel.: 00 33 (0)8 92 70 74 07
Tourist Office website
Open daily 9a.m.-5:30p.m.
Staying in Nice
Nice gets very full during Carnaval, but you will be able to find hotel rooms.
Visiting Nice during Carnaval
There’s plenty to see and do in Nice. Check out these possibilities: