The King of Space has come to Nice!
After the sun goes down, Place Massena comes to life. 17 decorated Carnaval floats light up the night sky, music blares, and over 1,000 dancers & musicians from around the world parade through the streets. This year, on day one, we joined in the fun at the Nice Carnaval Parade of Lights – always a spectacular event on the Cote d’Azur.
And for these 2 weeks in February, visitors flock from all over the globe to attend this event, one of the largest Carnavals in the world. To add to the excitement, each year the Nice Carnaval gets a new theme and this year it’s all about Space!
I have to say, this year’s theme may be my favorite. The imagination of the craftsmen is always spectacular with funny, mocking and dramatic designs. In addition to creating floats around the general theme of Space, they managed to incorporate historical, political and ecological events into these incredible rolling works of art.
Some of our favorite floats, besides the King and Queen, included #IloveNice, Cinespace, RocketBrexit and Programme Spatial USA. Lucy’s favorite float was Carnavalon and his “crazy” eyes.
Keeping the mood of the carnaval high, dancers and musicians entertain the crowds as they await the arrival of the next float. The B.A.T., made up of acrobats, musicians, dancers and circus artists, always put on a good show. The Mirror Family was a fun new act this year and were covered entirely in a mirrors reflecting the strobing lights. Another cool group of performers were the Astrobulles, enclosed in bubbles. Lucy loved “Colors”, a group of women in beautiful costumes that twirl in a sea of hues.
The Carnaval de Nice 2018 takes place February 17th – March 3rd.
Tips for experiencing the 2018 Carnaval de Nice:
- Security is tight, so plan to arrive 1 hour before the show begins. Thankfully, the lines moved more quickly this year than last. Bags are searched and you are required to walk through metal detectors before entering the venue. Avoid bringing a bag, but if necessary, try to keep it small. You must present your ticket for entrance.
- The entire parade route is enclosed for security this year. You can only enter through the secure access points.
- See the Carnaval Parades from special standing areas for FREE, when you wear full costume. Accessories and masks are not sufficient for free entry.
- The stands are located in Place Massena by the ferris wheel.
- See the program for all the 11 official events including the parades, balls, a breakfast and the Burning of the King.
- Special offer – Purchase tickets to the Carnival Parade or Parade of Lights + Flower Parade at a discounted rate!
- Children up to age 5 are FREE – but must sit in a parents lap while in the stands.
- Cans of silly string are prohibited at the event.
- Save money and purchase confetti outside of the venue at a store such as Carrefour. The kids WILL want to throw confetti!
- Take your Official Program to Fragonard to save 10% off your purchase.
- Other offers listed in the Program require you to show your ticket to save 10% on a ski discount and to get parking for 5€ at Port Lympia or Nice Etoile.
- Keep an eye on the Carnaval de Nice Facebook page for information and any changes due to inclement weather.
Another fantastic event during the Nice Carnaval is the Bataille de Fleurs. The Battle of Flowers is Lucy’s favorite parade. She loves the extravagant costumes and gorgeous flower displays. This unique event goes back to 1876 when young ladies dressed in their finest clothes and paraded down the Promenade in decorated carriages exchanging bouquets of flowers with each other and their admirers. If you’re still not sure this event is for you, see our photos that will make you want to see the Nice Carnaval Battle of Flowers. You might even catch some to take home, too!
Fun activities for kids:
· KITCHEN ON COURSE
· MANAN LITTLE BOATS
· CONFISERIE FLORIAN
· HARD ROCK CAFE NICE
· PERFUME MOLINARD
· LITTLE SHOP PAN WALL YELLOW
· KID’S CLUB
· THEATER THE ALPHABET “CARNEVALES ARRIBAT”
· WALKS IN SEGWAY
· ENVIRONMENT HOUSE
Where to eat:
The Hard Rock Café will have a family-friendly breakfast on February 25, 2018 from 9:30am – 12pm. Lucy and I were at Hard Rock for an event this weekend munching on mini burgers, chicken strips, coconut shrimp and wraps. The greatest feature of this Hard Rock is the location – you can enjoy lovely views of the sea while you dine.
Not sure where to eat before the festivities begin? I had dinner at Attimi located at Place Massena just steps from one of the Parade entrance gates. My pesto pasta (Trofie au pistou) was quite tasty and the kids always enjoy their pizzas there.
This was our 4th year experiencing the wonder of carnaval on the sunny French Riviera. We marveled at the cosmic floats and extraterrestrial big heads, danced to the music of groups from Europe and Asia, all while tossing confetti high into the air and cheering along with visitors from all over the world. It’s an event not to be missed!
Disclosure: We were guests of the Nice Tourism Office. As always, all opinions are 100% my own and may differ from others.