If Covid had the effect of dampening spirits in 2020 and in 2021 when some of our cherished festivals took a hit, then the opposite is shaping up for 2023. Some of our favourites are back with a vengeance to warm us up in this winter season. Two that we look forward to in February on our Monaco perimeters are battling it out for audiences overlapping around the same dates.
They are in Nice and Menton. We can’t wait. Both draw a little short of a quarter of a million visitors each and they are pulling out all the stops for 2023.
The Nice Carnival (10th to 26th February)
When craziness is combined with general merriment, an ideal tonic at the end of February. Imagine the welcoming atmosphere of a mini-Rio.
The artistic geniuses behind history’s great Carnival never disappoint. But the full panoply of the gigantic puppets (“Grosses Têtes”) are to be seen to be believed. It’s as if the creators’ imaginations were let loose without any constraint and went into a hallucinogenic orgy of animation and dramatic comedy aimed to please – a sort of Disney meets DaVinci and Klimt.
The Carnival’s history
This French Riviera festival may actually be the oldest Carnival in historic records — going back over 700 years, and most definitely Royal — visited by a Count and a King in its genesis. The Carnival of Nice is first mentioned in the 13th century when Charles of Anjou, Count of Provence and King of Sicily, trilled about the «Joyful days of the Carnival» during his sojourn in the city.
It is now a tradition for a mock version of a king to preside over the carnival on Place Masséna during the whole time of this scintillating celebration. On the last evening of the carnival, the effigy of the king is launched into the sea on a small boat and burned before the traditional fireworks in the Bay of Angels.
The Festival has metamorphosed from a giant party and lit version at night, a kaleidoscopic extravaganza in neon to also include in the day a flower parade of incredible sparkle and imagination – where beauty and craziness are combined with general merriment that families and kids all love.
Battle of the Flowers
So, not far away from Masséna Square, starts this iconic Flower Parade which dates back to 1876. The Parade is also called the battle of flowers since the performers launch flowers into the crowds.
For Everyone Who Enjoys A Party
Families, kids, teenagers, young and old – what are you waiting for? Take a ticket for the party and go and discover Nice Carnival with its colourful parades!
Special guest for this extraordinary edition: the Rio Carnival will join the celebrations for this first weekend.
There will be a carnival village to welcome you in Jardin Albert I with entertainment, gourmet stands, conferences and shows as well as the ticket office. The Théâtre de Verdure will also host shows throughout the festival.
Before each parade, check out the floats near Place Massena; additional grandstands are set up along the Avenue de Verdun.
The illuminated promenades will start at a more kid-friendly 8.30pm rather than 9pm, and will run for roughly 90 minutes.
The schedule of events will include an hour-long opening ceremony, starting at 2:30pm in Place Massena. This kick-off to the 150th edition will feature the king and queen, flower strewn floats, the carnival’s herald, standard bearers, musical entertainment, dance troupes, special guests and a sound and light show.
Another Unique Event In The World
The Fête du Citron (Lemon Festival) From February 11 to 26, 2022
Theme of the 2023 edition: «Rock & Opéra»
The Fête du Citron (Lemon Festival), also attracts more than 200,000 visitors every year. It’s simply Citrus Disneyland.
Be awed by the splendour and grandeur of a unique citrus show, featuring IMMENSE lemon and orange sculptures for its audience to admire.
For more than 15 days, go and enjoy the most zest-flavoured of Golden parades and Night-time parades (parades of citrus floats animated by groups of entertainers), admire the Exhibition of citrus patterns in the gardens Biovès (by day and/or night with the Gardens of lights); not forgetting the opportunity to visit the Crafts Fair and the Festival of Orchids with unforgettable scents. Go and discover this fantasy world, and move to the rhythm of a simply unforgettable event.
Everybody Loves a Parade
Citrus Parades to delight – which to this day remains the centerpiece of the carnival. Carts filled with flowers, oranges and lemons, true works of art, move through the streets, filling the air with a wonderful invigorating aroma. Actors, acrobats, jugglers, musicians and dancers create a great atmosphere. The sounds of fanfares and drums make the people rejoice and a rain of confetti pours down.