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Every February in Nice, the arrival of spring is heralded with an incredible carnival. It’s a riot of colour, music and dancing - guaranteed to chase the winter blues away…

Kings and parades at the Nice Carnival France

Nice Carnival is one of the oldest in the world, records as far back as 1294 mention that the Count of Provence enjoyed “joyous days of carnival”. In those days it wasn’t an organised event, more like an unruly street party. However, in 1830, the King and Queen of Sardinia visited Nice and the city council organised the first carnival parade in their honour. As the royal couple sat on their balcony, fine Niçois ladies and gentlemen, dressed in their most elegant costumes, went past in their highly decorated carriages.

That parade was a tremendous success not just with the royals but with the locals in Nice and it was decided to make an annual event of it. In succeeding years, when the king wasn’t present, some of the locals created their own King out of straw and placed the figure on the royal balcony and the carriages when past before it. In 1882, they decided the make-believe King should participate in the procession and so began the Nice Carnival as we know it, always presided over by a gigantic, kingly character.

 Each year brings a different king who sets the theme for the entire event. In 2018 the theme is “King of Space”.

Two weeks of fun and mayhem

For more than two weeks there are parades every day and night. There are marching bands, musical groups, fabulous dancers costumed characters and performers from around the world. Floats galore make their way along the carnival route in the centre of town. It’s a joyous event, full of fun, laughter, loud music and confetti – a truly feel good outing.  

In Nice’s Place Massena, it’s beating heart, seating areas are erected for visitors to enjoy great views and watch the amazing floats and street entertainers, some on sky-high stilts. Drums beat, the music is uplifting, there’s lots of noise and lots of laughs, even if you don’t know your neighbours in the seats at the start – you will by the end.

There are also the famous Flower Battles to enjoy during Carnival time. A procession of bloom-covered floats rolls along the Promenade des Anglais, showcasing the huge variety of flowers grown in this region. Each float is manned by beautifully costumed ladies showering the admiring crowd with colourful blossoms – it’s a fabulous sight.

Any thought of winter weather and grey skies is chased away by the usually warm sunshine and deep blue skies.

Nice Carnival 2018 will take place from 17 February to 3 March.

Why not book one of our fabulous holiday rentals in the south of France and banish those winter blues and enjoy a winter break in the sun and a whole of fun at the carnival.

We recommend you book your Nice Carnival tickets in advance, this is one of the most exciting and popular events of the south of France and we don’t want you to be disappointed by not being able to enjoy it.

Tickets via the Nice Tourist Office

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