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The Nice carnival and its flower parade

The “Battle of the Flowers,” vast floats, costumes and illuminated parades etc... The Nice Carnival is back in 2022 for its 149th edition - a flamboyant celebration inspired by this year’s theme, the “King of the Animals.” It is France’s largest carnival and one of the best known in the world, alongside Rio and Venice.


Every year during the month of February, spectators flock to Place Masséna to watch the parade of floats and see the King of the Carnival. For two weeks, the city becomes party central. After 18 months of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is time to celebrate with the public and enjoy the carnival parade. “The time has finally come to gather together at one of the world’s best parties and celebrate one of the greatest events in our Nice heritage,” enthuses Christian Estrosi, Mayor of Nice, President of the Métropole Nice Côte d’Azur and Deputy Chairman of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur Region, in a statement. This year, there is a new feature; Nice is hosting a foreign carnival, “Les Gilles de la Louvière” Belgian Carnival which will parade with its troops through the city.


What is the origin of the Nice carnival?


Originally, the carnival was a pagan festival that heralded the arrival of spring. The event also has links with the Catholic religion which marks the beginning of Lent.


The Nice Carnival is a tradition that dates back several centuries as the first mention of this celebratory event can be traced back to 1294. In that very year, the Count of Provence, Charles d’Anjou, the brother of Saint-Louis and the King of Sicily and Naples, made reference to the “happy days of Carnival,” during a visit to Nice. Since then, the city has celebrated the carnival every year, attracting thousands of spectators.


What happens during the Nice Carnival?


The Nice Carnival involves several different stages. First, an opening ceremony kicks off the carnival, with a magical show and a parade featuring the king, queen, bands and dancers. A variety of highlights are organized over the fortnight including the “Battle of the Flowers,” illuminated flower-decked floats, the “Parada Nissarda” and the final closing parade, resembling a farewell to the King who reveals the theme of next carnival.


What is Nice Carnival's defining characteristic?


The Battle of the Flowers is very specific to the Nice Carnival. Every year, nearly 100,000 flowers are distributed amongst the crowd from the flower-decked floats which parade around the Jardin Albert 1er park. The event is renowned for this flower throwing tradition. Mimosas, daisies, roses, lilies etc... Flowers of every hue are hurled off the floats, their bright colours contrasting with deep blue sky, delighting tourists and Nice residents, both adults and children alike. However, this isn’t Nice Carnival’s only defining characteristic.



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