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Nice Carnival

Last updated: 09 March, 2024

The biggest winter event on the Riviera calendar, Nice’s carnival is considered by the cognoscenti as second only to Rio’s.

Every year, enormous, animated satirical floats cover a different theme, cruising through the city in daytime (Corso Carnavalesque) and night parades (Corso Illumine) – along with a ‘Battle of Flowers’ parade, where floral floats skim along the iconic Promenade des Anglais waterfront and blooms are hurled all over.

Too tame? Then get egged and floured at the anarchic Carnaval Populaire in Place Garibaldi. On the final night – always a Wednesday – the Carnival ends with a big firework display and a bonfire of floats on the beach, both of which are free to watch.

Logistics

Price: Free
Minimum age: 0
Age suitable: 8+
Frequency: annually
When: February to March
Duration: 2 weeks

Getting there & doing it

Find dates, ticket prices and more on the official Carnival website.

The ‘tribunes’ (grandstands) are in Place Massena, in the centre of Nice, with the best lighting, music and animation (live commentary), although at ear-shattering volume. Tribune seats are numbered. Book early for seats, especially for the last Tuesday and Wednesday parades (Flower Parade and Parade of Lights).

You’ll also need tickets for standing room in Place Massena, though anyone who dons head-to-toe carnival finery will get in free to the Place Massena for the day or night Carnival parades. The rest of the route is free (and more fun) – enter via the Promenade des Anglais. For the Parade of Flowers, arrive early to get a good spot, and catch a bouquet hurled from the floats.

Kids will love it, too: under 6s go free on parents’ laps, while children aged 6-12 get reduced entry.

When to do it

The carnival spans a 2- to 3-week period between mid-February and the first week of March.