Why consider visiting France for Nice Carnaval? Festivals are a great excuse to travel around Europe and experience the local culture. Worldwide, Carnaval is one final celebration before the somberness of Lent is supposed to kick in. We visited the South of France for Nice Carnaval and experienced a long weekend full of flowers, streamers, and confetti. It doesn't stop here. Carnaval de Nice (as they say in French) is on for an entire month each year so there is no excuse not to visit this lovely corner of the world in February or March (dates vary with the Easter holiday). What did we learn at Nice Carnaval? 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 Carnaval Costumes Around Nice
Colorful costumes are a big part of the Nice Carnaval experience. 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 at Carnaval de Nice
There was so much confetti at Nice Carnaval! 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 Nice Carnival Flower Parade. 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 Nice Carnival Flower Parade
Parades with different themes run each afternoon at Nice Carnaval. There are two types of tickets: standing tickets and seats in the bleachers. We paid extra for seats for the afternoon Nice Carnaval 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 Nice Carnaval flower bouquet. I'd say I did pretty well for myself :-)
Light Up Your Imagination at the Nice Carnaval Night Parade
The Nice Carnaval Parade of Lights at night is definitely a highlight of the festival. 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 Nice Carnaval
At the end of the Nice Carnaval 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 Carnaval with a smile on our faces that evening! I've never seen anything like it!
Take a Break from Carnaval Festivities to Promenade on the Nice Promenade
After all the excitement of Nice Carnaval, we took some time for quieter and more reflective activities. Nice is great for a stroll (even in the rain) along the Promenade des Anglais. This was the place to see and be seen back in the 18th century when the English liked to winter in the South of France.
SIDEWALK SAFARI SPOTLIGHT: Looking for other ideas for places to see in France? Have you consideredt:
Escape from Nice 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 take a break from the Carnaval madness and spend a few hours strolling along the Mediterranean.
SIDEWALK SAFARI SPOTLIGHT: Looking for other day trip ideas from Nice? Why not take the public bus from Nice to Monaco and spend a day living like a high roller in Monte Carlo.
Nice Carnaval is an excellent winter city break destination from Dublin. What are some of your favorite European festival destinations?
Looking for more festival fun in the South of France? Menton's Fete du Citron (Menton Lemon Festival) happens at the same time as Nice Carnaval. Exploring options for the best festivals across Europe? Have you considered fiery Las Fallas in Valencia Spain?