Don’t miss the 2013 Nice Carnival, which runs from Friday February 15th to Sunday March 6th. It’s fun, free, surprising, and worth the effort… IF you follow Best of Nice Blog’s Insider Carnival Tips that will make all the difference for your Carnival experience.
Here the video from last year to give you an idea what’s in store…
1. Pick up the Program. It’s worth it to swing by the Tourist Office to pick up your free Official Program Guide, even if you are not buying a ticket. This will give you the inside track on decoding the humor and ironic meanings of the more esoteric floats.
2. Don’t pay for a seat. You’ll pay 10-25€ and be stuck for hours subjecting your ears to the painfully loud MC as the floats crawl past at a glacial pace. Better to head straight for the free zone, which is much more fun and covers 80% of the route. Avoid Place Massena altogether and enter the Carnival via the Prom.
3. Stick to the Free-Zone. You can get free entry into the paid standing area if you wear a costume, and in year’s past even a lame face-paint or silly hat would work: No more! The rule for 2012 is a good costume, head-to-toe. But don’t bother… the free zone is much more fun!
4. Keep it short. Once in the less-crowded free zone, walk the route clockwise. Don’t just stand on the sidelines… jump right into the parade path and walk against the float flow, where you’ll be dodging silly string, big heads, and float tentacles; it’s really fun! And the best thing about this strategy: by walking against the flow, you keep moving and see all the floats in 30-45 minutes instead of nearly 2 hours… a much more enjoyable Carnival time frame!
5. Don’t wear leather …or that silly string could become a lasting souvenir when it fuses with your favorite leather jacket.
6. Decode. Now that you’ve beat the crowd and are covered with silly string and confetti, go have a drink somewhere and decode the hidden and ironic meanings of the 18 floats…
7. Secret skybox. If you really have your heart set on sitting but can’t shell out the 20-25€ for a seat, go to the McDonald’s at the Hotel Meridien, head upstairs and sit at a window table, and have a slow meal of fast food… it’s the low-budget skybox!
Note that these tips apply only to the Corso parades, the daytime Corso Carnavalesque and the spectacular Corso Illuminé Night Carnival. The Bataille de Fleurs is something else altogether, with different rules and different tips… so click here for Best of Nice Blog’s insider tips for the Bataille de Fleurs Flower Parade.
Here is the schedule for attending the events or avoiding downtown, depending on your preference. Day events start at 2:30pm, and nighttime at 9pm:
- Saturday afternoons: Bataille de Fleurs on the Prom
- Saturday nights: Corso Illuminé
- Sunday afternoons: Corso Carnavalesque
- Tuesday afternoons: Corso Carnavalesque
- Wednesday afternoons: Bataille de Fleurs on the Prom
- Wednesday nights: Corso Illuminé
- Final Sunday closing ceremony at 8pm, with the burning of the King, then fireworks at 9:30pm
Click here for the Official Nice Carnival site in English
Nice’s ‘Other’ Carnival
You know about the ‘official’ Carnival, but do you know about the unofficial one, the rough-and-tumble Carnaval Populaire? It started in 1990 in reaction to the city-sponsored festivities, which were perceived by locals as a hollow tourism marketing ploy.
In contrast to the official Carnival, this one started with no funding, the so-called floats roll on ‘borrowed’ supermarket carts, the music alternates between boom-box and makeshift drum corps, and the ‘costumes’ are sheets, face painting and flour bombs But this Carnival has heart, a grass-roots spontaneity, community spirit …and really rocks. Actually, it rocked a little too much, and so now the city has gotten involved and provided some funding in return for less bad behavior!
A major difference with this flip-side festival is that instead of the adorable urchins spraying silly string and throwing confetti, here you have merry pranksters wielding stockings filled with flour and throwing the occasional raw egg …so dress accordingly. Flour-flogging is actually a very important Carnival tradition going back to its medieval roots: In the middle ages, Carnival was a period of church-sanctioned debauchery designed to let the repressed underclass let off a little steam in order to diffuse political unrest. But whereas a costumed peasant could anonymously mock and insult the ruling class without fear of repercussions, if too many villagers showed up sans appropriate attire the rabble-rousers could be easily identified. Hence, we have the tradition of the instant white costume for any killjoy neighbors. For more on Carnival lore, check out French Riviera Traveller
Be there if you dare!
Related Page: Inside scoop on the Bataille de Fleurs
Related Blog Post: The Flip-side of Carnival: Police, Tear Gas and Arrests