This coming weekend is your last chance to visit the 84th edition of the famous Fête du Citron (Lemon Festival) in Menton. This year the event started on the February 11th and ends on March 1st. With general admission just 10 euros to The Biovès Garden, it’s definitely not one to miss!
What started out as a modest fruit show in 1928 has grown into an internationally renowned event drawing in close to 250,000 visitors each year, all coming to experience the joyful atmosphere and take in the impressive citrusy structures. The festival, also known as the Carnival of Menton, is primarily a celebration of the simply unique Menton lemon; with its elongated structure, richness in essential oils and incomparable taste. Since the 15th Century the city has been one of Europe’s biggest producers of lemons, which is why the structures on show are almost entirely made of carefully placed citrus fruits.
The festival has a fun twist: each year there is a new theme, making every edition a new experience. This year it’s ‘Broadway’; a chance to rediscover some of the most famous musical comedies that have graced the stages of New York since the 1930’s. This theme is the second feature in the new trilogy chosen by the Menton Municipality to highlight artistically important cities, such as last year’s focus on Italian cinema. The festival pays tribute to world-famous musicals such as The Lion King, West Side Story, The Wizard of Oz and An American in Paris, each structure uniquely decorated and spectacularly represented.
The pieces take about 15 days to create; the 145 tons of citrus fruit originating from the South of Spain are individually bound to the metal netting with elastic bands, 500,000 bands to be exact! You can’t help but be amazed by the time and care taken to complete the intricate designs for the public admiration – works of art that are sadly impossible to preserve. In fact, if you’re wondering where all the fruit ends up at the end of the celebration, the lemons and oranges are sold at low prices in the locals markets to ensure nothing is wasted.
As you walk through the paved garden, the aromatic fragrance of lemons and oranges enhances the visual aspect. Each figure includes a mechanical touch and is beautifully accompanied by classic musical pieces from the corresponding shows, giving the art movement and making it come to life.
The Lemon Festival also gives you the chance to rediscover the ‘Tastes of Menton’ with various stands dotted around the park offering traditional Provençal products and delicacies – with tasters of course! Products featured are olive oil, honey, jams and of course citrus-based products such as limoncello, orange wine, lemon tapenade, “tarte au citron” and many more.
The peaceful square at the end of the garden is the perfect place to sit and take in your surroundings and enjoy some fresh orange or lemon juice, flavoured tea or wine and crepes.
If you want to see more than just the citrus fruit structure garden, you can also buy tickets to the various afternoon or evening Golden Fruit Parades that showcase all that the festival has to offer. An extraordinary event; the streets are lined with talented performers and musical troupes where you’ll discover the complete series of citrus fruit structures, including floats dedicated to the musicals Grease, Cats, Mary Poppins, and many more. A true sensory explosion, with the sound of the drums, the impressive colourfully dressed dancers and festive confetti falling from above. A treat for all ages!
On certain days the garden also comes alive at night as the citrus decorations are magnificently lit up and music is played, creating a real fairy-tale atmosphere for a magical moonlit promenade. You get a whole new perspective under the starry sky. The evening parades are even topped off with a fireworks display for all to enjoy!
It is clear why the Fête du Citron in Menton is always such a great success, so go and experience the dazzling hues of yellow and orange for yourself and get ready to be inspired by the colourful creativity.