Festivals are a great excuse to travel around Europe and experience the local culture. Carnaval is one final celebration before the somberness of Lent is supposed to kick in. We visited Nice, France for Carnaval and experienced a long weekend full of plenty of flowers, streamers, and confetti. It doesn't stop here. Carnaval in Nice is on for an entire month so there is no excuse not to visit this lovely corner of the world in February or March (dates vary with the Easter holiday each year). What did we learn? The French know how to throw a fantastic party! In this post, I'll share some of our favorite memories from this festival city break in the South of France.
Spot the Costumes Around Town
Colorful costumes are a big part of the Carnaval experience in Nice. We had fun spotting Carnaval characters all over town and then seeing them come to life in the afternoon and evening parades.
Embrace the Confetti
So much confetti! Bags of confetti and streamers were on sale everywhere we turned. At first, I didn't buy any for myself but then I found a nearly full abandoned bag of confetti in the bleachers on the parade route. Despite the rain, the confetti kept things upbeat and colorful during the parades. We were shaking confetti out of our clothes days later but the camaraderie that it invoked was totally worth it. Anyone felt free to douse their neighbor in a colorful avalanche of paper (or silly string for that matter!)
Make a Bouquet at the Flower Parade
Parades with different themes run each afternoon. There are two types of tickets: standing tickets and seats in the bleachers. We paid extra for seats for the afternoon flower parade. The theme for the 2016 Parade was King of Media. Many of the floats in the parade stayed true to the theme, like this old-fashioned movie camera. People in colorful dress hung off the floats and threw bundles of flowers into the crowd. I definitely have the 'collector' instinct and made it my goal to collect and curate a bouquet. I'd say I did pretty well for myself :-)
Light Up Your Imagination at the Night Parade
The Parade of Lights at night is definitely the highlight of Nice Carnaval. Centered on Place Massena, impressive giant floats rolled past, all related to the King of Media theme. One thing that we noticed was that each parade we went to rolled past us twice. If you see something you like but miss that perfect photo, don't worry, you'll have a second chance.
Party with David in a Confetti Cannon Storm
At the end of the Parade of Lights, a huge group armed with confetti cannons lined up in front of the statue of David, an iconic landmark in Nice. After counting it down, the cannons all fired simultaneously generating a riotous atmosphere and covering us all in confetti and streamers. We all left with a smile on our faces that evening! I've never seen anything like it!
Promenade on the Promenade
Escape to Antibes for Lunch and a Seaside Stroll
Antibes is also just a short train ride away from Nice (about 20 minutes on the local train). This lovely seaside town is a great place to spend a few hours strolling along the Mediterranean.
Visiting Nice for Carnaval is an excellent winter city break destination from Dublin. What are some of your favorite festival destinations?