Culture & Arts

The Must-See Nice Carnival: Epic, Extravagant, Theatrical Pageant

The Nice Carnival is incomparable in the creative skill of its animators. They rise to the challenge this year with the theme Fashion. The artistic geniuses behind history’s great Carnival never disappoint. These classic “aristocrats” of the fashion world are a must-see.

But the full panoply of the 2020 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. And there are surprises in store because joining Yves Saint Laurent, Coco Chanel and the “Kaiser” Karl Lagerfeld are:

  • “La Mode est un Éternal Commencement” inspired by Louis XIV who undoubtedly shaped fashion but would either laugh or turn over in his grave if he saw the 2020 comedic version of his jester-drawn carriage conceived by the Carnival;
  • “La Reine du Vintage” Could that be Queen Elizabeth of England as nver before seen and her guards in their fashionable busby hats? We can almost hear her muttering Queen Victoria’s famous phrase “I am not amused!”;

Nice Carnival

  • “La Mode d’après Cruella parfois la mode peut-être cruelle”. We did say Disney has a bit-part in the Carnival and appears in the form of a Cruella – turbocharged by the Nice animators;
  • “XXS Taille Mannequin”. Are we supposed to conclude that models’ figures and sizes are a danger to our health. Definitely hallucinogenic and a little scary is this giant grinning skeleton;

Nice Carnival

  • “Le Diablo s’habille en Ratapignata. La Ratapignata fait son tour.” A cartoonist’s cocktail mix of the Devil and the historic “Ratapignata” representing the Niçois. A testimony to the people of Nice. Power to the people! France, Savoy, Italy and Provence – they have all wanted their share of this Mediterranean paradise where the Niçois rule.

The list goes on as the artists go to work on inspired giant landscaped images of bikinis and sneakers and “pret a porter” (ready to wear).

Nice Carnival

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.

The Carnival has been booming since 1830 when Charles-Felix, King of Sardinia and Duke of Savoy, and Queen Maria Cristina of Naples and Sicily came to Nice to celebrate the ancient carnival. To mark the royal occasion, the city held the first parade in their honour.

Nice Carnival

Interestingly, meat was traditionally eaten over the Carnival. The word «carnival» actually comes from the Latin «carnelevare» which means «to take out the meat». The medieval Church banned meat from the table during the whole period of Lent. So before Lent people had a ball creating Carnivals as it was their last opportunity until Easter to eat meat. The celebration was also a way to chase away the gloom of winter while awaiting the blessing of spring.

Carnival nowadays

It is now a tradition for a mock version of the king to preside over the carnival on Place Masséna during the whole time of this scintillating celebration – you decide if the King of Fashion is Karl Lagerfeld or Yves Saint Laurent. No matter because 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.

Nice Carnival

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

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. There is nothing even a little bit warlike about it, happily!

HelloMonaco was right at the centre of this the most elegant and fragrant Flower Parade on the Cote d’Azur. You fall in love at first sight after observing the incredible scenery of the parade with thousands of different blooms.

Nice Carnival Nice Carnival

The entertainment begins in the central square of the city at the fountain. After the countdown, the dancers in sparkling multicoloured robes with huge firecrackers in their hands give the start to the carnival! Then the parade opens with a spectacular horse show, where powerful horses demonstrated standing on their hind legs. And then, the first of the multitude of “flower carts” headed towards the public. Each wagon was spearheaded by cosmic princesses, whose most important role was to offer bouquets of Lilies, Mimosas, Orchids, and Roses to the public. Some lucky visitors to the Carnival manage to return back home with beautiful decorative blossoms.

Nice Carnival

For Everyone Who Enjoys the 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!

Tickets range between 5-26 euros per grand event.


Start: February 15, 2020

End: February 29, 2020

Cost: €5 – €26

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