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Nice Carnival
Source of photo: en.nicetourisme.com

King of Energy will rule in Nice in February

Masks and Mardi Gras-style carnivals have a long association, stemming from the Middle Ages when the celebrations allowed oppressed peasants to mock the aristocracy.

Masks and disguises protected them from what might be a beheading offense.

The modern Nice Carnival dates from 1873 and continued with only brief interruptions for the more serious events of wars. Unlike the carnivals of Venice, there’s no real expectation that visitors should wear costume or masks. Far from grey skies and full of excitement, Nice at Carnival time is a riot of color and commotion.

Historical roots of the carnival in Nice

The Nice Carnival is reputed to be one of the World’s oldest continuously run festivals. The first mention of the «Nice Carnival» in history books dates back to the time of Charles Anjou the Count of Provence in 1294. The roots of this Mardi Gras festival lay in the traditional Catholic celebration of Lent, just before the period of 40 days fasting. It was generally a time of excess on the streets of Nice, with plenty of eating, drinking, dancing and God knows what.

Nice Carnival
Source of photo: en.nicetourisme.com

During the time when Nice was under the control of Italy, the carnival became influenced by the masked balls often celebrated at the Carnival of Venice. Then during the major political and military upheavals caused by the French Revolution and the First Napoleonic Empire, Carnival festivities were suspended. In 1830, a first cortège was organized in honor of King Charles-Felix and Queen Marie-Christine, rulers of Piedmont-Sardinia. Some thirty carriages paraded in front of the monarchs, announcing the future form of Carnival.

Until 1872, the fun was in the streets of Nice. According to individual inspiration: the crowd wore disguises and threw plaster confetti, flour and eggs at each other. In 1873, His Majesty King Carnival I entered his city: the modern Carnival was born.

Nice Carnival
Source of photo: en.nicetourisme.com

Until 1971, Alexis Mossa, then his son Gustav-Adolf, brought their special touch, a stunning grotesque mythical particularism in designing the most spectacular floats that ever paraded in Nice. On February 14, 1882, His Majesty «Triboulet», as he was dubbed, made a triumphal entrance into the City. This modest straw and rag puppet who had been content with simply watching the cortège go by on Place de la Préfecture participated for the first time in the parade, enthroned on the «Royal Float» as we know it today.

To mark the beginning of the century, great care was taken over the choice of themes and cartoonists and the creation of floats. The Carnivaliers have also integrated modern materials such as plastazote use new technologies and the work of sculptors.

Nice Carnival
Source of photo: en.nicetourisme.com

In tune with its time, a new impetus has been breathed into this event in order to produce a modern, high quality spectacle, particularly impressive in its nocturnal version, which becomes an authentic sound and lights show. Modernity and tradition are, more than ever, the key words of a third millennium Carnival. Modernity, with its innovative and creative procession, while remaining attentive to safeguarding the environment at the heart of all the activities in the town. Tradition, by maintaining strong symbols associated with the history of the Nice Carnival.

The carnival processions, comprising 17 floats work their way up to a crescendo of gigantic celebrations on the Place Masséna.

King of Energy in 2017

The Carnival King leads his Carnival Procession through the streets, with around twenty floats taking the theme of the year.

This year, the Nice Carnival starts on 11th February and will rule till 25th February. The King will be «King of Energy». A theme which opens all perspectives to imagination and that is still a topical subject… and will show his fans that he has many resources!

The King is accompanied by more than fifty giant-headed puppets, the Grosses Tetes. Making the papier-mache figures uses centuries-old techniques, and the painting is done by specialist craftspeople. Costumes are created to dress each character, the more flamboyant the better. Just one puppet can weigh over two tons and tower over the watching crowds at twelve meters high.

Nice Carnival
Source of photo: en.nicetourisme.com

A king must have a queen, and she is selected from a bevy of local beauties for the honor. Her duties range from posing for Carnival photos to throwing posies of flowers from a float for the Flower Parade. So she needs to be able to keep that lovely smile all day and into the night’s revelries.

These giant, colorful parades take place day and night, with entertainment provided by over 1,000 musicians and dancers from across the world

In a unique setting, the elegant «flower battles» are part of the carnival not to be missed. On floats decorated with the most stunning floral compositions, extravagantly dressed characters throw out mimosas, gerberas, and lilies into the public…

Nice Carnival
Source of photo: en.nicetourisme.com

For over 15 days, the city hums to the rhythm of this genuine, fairy-tale event… get a passport for the celebration and let the magic do its work… come and forget the dullness of winter and take in the sun on the French Riviera!

New route

There are though some innovations on the 2017 year: a new route is expected. A new route will be identical for all events in order to accommodate the spectators in a 100% secure enclosure, the route of the carnival corso as well as that of the battle of flowers have been completely redesigned. The two events will take place on a unique route: the floats will pass through Place Masséna and will turn around the Promenade du Paillon (see map). This new route involves the closure of the Promenade du Paillon garden before and during the duration of the event.

Nice Carnival

Parades take place on three or four afternoons or evenings a week during the Carnival period, and most are free, so you can save your cash for some luxury shopping or a more upmarket hotel. There’s always an admission charge for the Bataille des Fleurs, but it’s well worth shelling out for.

The final weekend of the Carnival includes a popular Bartenders Race, and the year’s Carnival King is burned in the sea on the last night, followed by a fantastic firework display.

The parade route changes slightly each year but usually follows part of the Promenade des Anglais.

Programand prices of the Nice Carnival 2017 (11-25 February)

Saturday 11th February
2:30 pm Flower Parade
26€ in reservedseating / 12€ entrance (Zone B)
9:00 pm Carnival Parade of lights
26€ in reservedseating / 12€ entrance (Zone A)/ 5€ entrance (Zone B)

Monday 13th February
2:30 pm Floral Naval Display

Villefranche sur mer

Tuesday 14th February
9:00 pm Carnival Parade of lights
26€ in reserved seating / 12€ entrance (Zone A)/ 5€ entrance (Zone B)

Wednesday 15th February
2:30 pm Flower Parade
26€ in reserved seating / 12€ entrance (Zone B)

Friday 17th February
12:00 (midday) Vira la Roda
Charity lunch on the Big Wheel
Price : 90 euros per person (Including wines, water and coffee)
Bookings : direction.generale@otcnice.com or by phone : 04 92 14 46 39

Saturday 18th February
2:30 pm Flower Parade
26€ in reserved seating/ 12€ entrance (Zone B)
9:00 pm Carnival Parade of lights
26€ in reserved seating / 12€ entrance (Zone A)/ 5€ entrance (Zone B)

Sunday 19th February
2:30 pm Carnival Parade – ParadaNissarda
21€ in reserved seating / 12€ entrance (Zone A)/ 5€ entrance (Zone B)

Tuesday 21st February
9:00 pm Carnival Parade of lights
26€ in reserved seating / 12€ entrance (Zone A)/ 5€ entrance (Zone B)

Wednesday 22nd February
2:30 pm Flower Parade
26€ in reserved seating /12€ entrance (Zone B)

Saturday 25th February
2:30 pm Flower Parade
26€ in reserved seating/12€ entrance (Zone B)
9:00 pm Carnival Parade of lights and burning of the King
Place Masséna
26€ in reserved seating /12€ entrance (Zone A)/ 5€ entrance (Zone B)

Special 2 event rate (excluding Saturdays):

  • 40 € reserved seating (Carnival Parade or Carnival Parade of Lights + Flower Parade)
Nice Carnival
Source of photo: en.nicetourisme.com

Children’s rates: 
Flower Parades:

  • Free entrance for children 0 – 5 years old (zone B) (free access to reserved seating on parents lap: 1 child/adult)
  • From 6 to 10 years: 10 € (reserved seating) or 5 € (entrance zone B)

Carnival Parades and parades of lights:

  • Free entrance for children 0 – 5 years old (zone A) (free access to reserved seating on parents lap : 1 child/adult)
  • From 6 to 10 years: 10 € (reserved seating) or 5 € (entrance zone A)
  • From 0 – 10 years : free entrance (zone B)

Persons in fancy-dress / Carnival Parade and Carnival Parade of lights: 

  • Free entrance Place Masséna (zones A and B)

Rates for the handicapped: 
(for the person holding an invalidity card and their accompanying person)

Flower Parades:

  • 11 € in reserved seating or reserved area (zone A)
  • 5 € in standing area (zone B)

Carnival Parades and parades of lights:

  • 11 € in reserved seating or reserved area for wheelchairs (zone A)
  • 5 € in standing area and reserved area (zone A)
  • Free entrance to standing area (zone B)

Information and bookings: resa.carnaval@otcnice.com
Sources: www.nicecarnaval.comwww.villakilauea.com and www.allexciting.com



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