If you have chosen the South of France for a short end-of-winter holiday, don’t miss the chance to attend the carnival in Nice. This is one of the biggest and most popular carnivals in Europe. Here is a quick overview of this event and some travel suggestions for those who want to explore this beautiful part of the French Riviera.

Carnival time and place

The carnival takes place every year in Niece, in February. This year’s party time is from 11th to 25th February. The French Riviera, or Côte d’Azur, is the place where everything happens. The participants will roam around the city until they reach Place Masséna and put up exciting flower battles on Promenade des Anglais.

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Promenade des Anglais, Nice | Photo source: 20minutes.fr

Carnival theme

This effervescent carnival will impress you with its colorful figurines and beautiful costumes. The carnival’s main character is the ‘King’, a giant puppet who is always the leader of the procession. His loyal friends are the so-called ‘Grosses Tetes’, literally, the big heads, a suggestive name for the large-headed figures. This year, the novelty is that Nice will have a ‘King of Energy’, so get ready to be taken aback by an explosive show.

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The carnival’s King, Nice | Photo source: gayvoyageur.com

Carnival program

The carnival’s grand opening takes place on 11th February with the traditional flower parade and the carnival parade of lights.

  • On 14th February, you will enjoy the parade of lights, followed by the flower parade the next day.
  • On 18th February, both the flower parade and the parade of lights take place
  • On 19th February, the carnival Parade is the opening act, followed by Parade Nissarda
  • On 21st February, everyone is welcomed to the carnival parade of lights
  • On 22nd February, gather for another round of the flower parade
  • On 25th February, the carnival ends with three precious moments: the flower parade, the carnival parade of lights, and the closing festivities incineration
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The carnival parade of lights, Nice | Photo source: travelinsidermagazine.com

Carnival history

This is one of the oldest carnivals in the world. It was firstly celebrated in 1294 when the Count of Provence, Charles d’Anjou, enjoyed a memorable time in Nice just before the beginning of the Catholic Lent. In fact, the carnival’s roots are deeply connected to the period that anticipated this Christian custom. Since the Lent period meant 40 days of abstinence, people in those days used to indulge themselves in lavish meals and lively dancing right before sobriety took over.

Other attractions in Nice

You don’t have to come here in February to understand that Nice is a great destination. It is, in fact, one of the most popular places on the French Riviera. It has some of the finest beaches on the coast, a terrific scenery, and a bunch of attractions like the Matisse Museum, The Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, the Nice Cathedral, Notre-Dame de Nice, the Nice Observatory, the archeological site at Terra Amata, Parc de la Colline du Château, the Castle of Nice, Fort du Mont Alban or Parc du Mont Boron.

Die Notre Dame im Zentrum von Nizza, Frankreich, wirkt wie eine jahrhundertealte Basilika, stammt tatsächlich jedoch aus dem 19. Jahrhundert

Notre-Dame de Nice, Nice | Photo source: franks-travelbox.com

One of the best ways to get to Nice is sailing and the most accessible marina reservation choice here is Port of Nice. However, there are plenty other options that will allow you to take one step away from the crowd and discover the atmosphere of a traditional French Riviera settlement. Port of Villefranche Darse located in Villefranche-sur-Mer and Port de Saint Jean Cap Ferrat located in the commune of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat are two excellent harbors where you can book a berth and enjoy the picturesque landscape of this historic area. Another great spot to book a berth is Port de Beaulieu, located in Beaulieu sur Mer, a charming coastal village.

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Port of Nice

Talking about Nice and its fabulous carnival is nothing compared to actually living this exciting experience. If you have the chance to go there, make sure you don’t miss it. Nice is really one of those places that will always stick to your mind and heart.

And if you are interested in exploring the wonders of this French jewel, we invite you to take a look at our travel guide; it has useful tips and a list of the most fascinating attractions.