What to Do in May in and around Nice – 2024

May is a month of glamour on the French Riviera, with the world’s most prestigious film festival, the Cannes Film Festival and then the the world’s most famous racing event, the Formula One Monaco Grand Prix!

fermeThe month starts with May Day on May 1st, which is Labor Day in France, meaning that almost everyone takes the day off!  It’s the one day a year when there are no buses, no trams, and all the museums are closed.

In fact, May is chock full of French public holidays, where banks and post offices are closed, buses and trains are on a reduced holiday schedule, and taxis charge double (…but not Ubers!)  Here is the holiday schedule for 2024:

  • May 1               May Day/Labor Day (No buses, no museums)
  • May 8               V-E Day (WWII Victory in Europe)
  • May 9               Ascension
  • May 19/20       Pentecost/Whit Monday

May is also a prime month for transport strikes; between the high-profile events, the weekend holiday travel, and plus Mother’s Day at the end, it’s like catnip to French transport workers.  Just an FYI…

But in between the closures and chaos, the most glamourous events in the world are taking place up and down the coast, and you can take part if you know the insider scoop.

The infamous Cannes Film Festival , from May 12-25, 2024, is a badge-driven industry-only festival, but if you know the inside tips on how to do it, you can experience parts of the Cannes Film Festival, including seeing films without a badge and star spotting.  If you are here during these 10 days, don’t miss the experience of seeing this mythic crazy glamour first hand.

Monaco Historic Grand Prix  May 10-12, 2024.  Step back in time with a Grand Prix of vintage racing cars, run on the same 2-mile circuit through Monaco as the Formula 1 Grand Prix.   The Formula 1 race cars and others are from every era, and the Saturday parade features some real stunners. Friday is free day for the practice trials, and a new race starts for different categories every 30 minutes from 11am to 6pm.   Saturday has qualifying trials from 8:15am to 4pm, with a 4-lap car parade in the middle at 12:50-13:20.  Sunday is the finals, and you can find the complete program here.

Monaco Grand Prix posterMonaco Grand Prix – May 23-26, 2024  It’s the most glamorous and prestigious racing event in the world, and even if you can’t afford a prime seat, there is a free fan zone.  And here’s a secret: the Monaco Grand Prix has a discount day!  for the qualifying trials on Thursday, you can sit in the normally super expensive seats for a mere pittance!

 

On the less glamourous side, here are a bunch of other happenings for May:

Fete-des-Mai-Nice

Nice May Folklore Festival – Free – The 1st of May and every Sunday in May, the Lu Fete des Mai takes over the Jardins de Cimiez to celebrate the debut of springtime… just as they’ve done every May for hundreds of years.  With free entry, a family atmosphere and celebrating all-things-Niçoise, this centuries-old festival under-the-olive-trees features traditional dancing, costumes, roving musicians, animations and folklore, plus local food (socca, pissaladieres…), traditional games (pétanque and pilou), and lots and lots of picnicking!

Outdoor Festival 06 – free – May 3-6, 2024 – The village expo ‘Outdoor Camp’ is based in Cannes but the free outdoor activities are being held at over 140 sites throughout the entire territory.  Discover more than 60 activities, participate in workshops, try out gear and products.  The only catch is that you need to sign up before it all fills up, and sign ups start April 1.

The Blues Brothers touring stage production (produced by Dan Aykroyd and Judith Belushi) and starring Brad Henshaw live at the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco for one night only May 3, 2024.  Tickets start at 39€

The little FREE port ferry boat, Lou Passagin, starts service on May 6th, and goes from 10am-7pm 7/7 until late September.

VE Day Celebrations – Free – May 8, 2024   WWII Victory in Europe is celebrated with a gathering at the seaside across from the old town at 8:15am, then a march around the point to the majestic cliff-carved Monument aux Morts overlooking the port, for a military ceremony at 8:45am.

Yoga Rose Giant Outdoor Yoga Class – Sunday May 12, 2024 –  9:30am at Square Leclerc in the Promenade du Paillon gardens (tram stop Opera).  Dress code is pink, and bring a mat or towel.  Reserve your spot online and the 12€ fee goes to support breast cancer awareness and prevention.  For more on outdoor yoga (in English!) see my Yoga page.

Nice Rainbow Festival – FREE – Saturday May 18, 2024 Rainbow Village in the Albert 1 gardens across from the seaside.   A light-hearted celebration of the LGBTQ community, including a drag show cabaret picnic at lunch time, an afternoon self-defense workshop at 3pm, and at at 6:30-7:30pm a high-heel foot race followed by a purse throwing competition, followed by a DJ apero going until 11pm.  Sunday features a solidarity march starting at Place Massena at 3pm.  Tram stop Massena

Nuits Musées/Museums by Moonlight – FREE –  Saturday May 18, 2024.  All the museums stay up late (9 or 10pm for some, 11pm for others…) with lots of animations, special tours, music, performance art, and surprises.   They’re all free from 6pm this night, so target your museum choices then bounce from one to another!

Stand up Comedy in English – Sunday, May 5, and Sunday May 19 – The new Bobar Comedy Club in Old Nice does twice-monthly stand-up comedy shows in English  ‘Spill the Tea’, at 5:30pm and cover charge is just 8€ or 5€ students.  27 rue Benoit Bunico, tram stop Cathedrale.

Giant ‘Apero’ Street Party on Rue Delille – Friday, May 24, 2024 – Rue Delille closes to traffic and from 6:30pm to midnight throws a giant annual ‘Apero’ street party.  The 15€ entry fee includes the periodic waves of finger food provided by the surrounding restaurants (which are promptly swarmed),  drinks are just 4€ each, and the there is dancing in the streets with music by DJ Pablo Discobar.   Last year the tickets sold out fast so buy ahead of time from any restaurant on rue Delille.  Tram stop Garibaldi

Fete de la Vœu – Third Sunday in May, May 19, 2024 – FREE – In 1832 a Cholera epidemic swept through France, and local residents prayed to the Virgin Mary that if she saved them they vowed to not only build a church in her honor but they would also give her an annual procession.  Well, apparently she came through, and now Nice keeps its vow with a procession from Place Saint Francois to the Church of the Vow, followed by a fun celebration in the orange grove in front of the church, and spilling out into the Promenade du Paillon.  The procession starts at 9:50am, and then food stands, music, and lots of animations all afternoon.  Tram stop Cathedrale or Garibaldi

Blind Date?  Here’s an out-of-the-box idea, a Blind Dinner on May 15, 2024. Blindfolded before being lead to your table, you’ll experience your meal in a way you will never forget!  Tickets for the 3-course blind dinner are 60€, and you select your surprise 3-course menu based on meat, fish or vegetarian.  Starts at 8:30pm at Ornato Restaurant 54 blvd Jean Jaures, tram stop Massena or Opera.

Music

Catch one of the eclectic Candlelight Concerts at the Nice Observatory on May 24/25/26 2024.  The themed concerts range from Vivaldi to a classic take on Queen or Coldplay…  all in a one of a kind concert venue in a historic (but still operating) observatory lit only by a thousand candles… and at the end the cupola opens up to the stars.  Tickets start at 47€ and the Observatory is a bit complicated to get to, but worth it for a unique concert in a truly magical ambiance.

Dinner on the Stage of the Nice Opera!  May 7, 2024  Experience an unforgettable dinner experience in the most majestic setting, while being feted by musicians and dancers from the Nice Opera.  The limited number of tickets are super expensive at 250€ per person, but it’s an exclusive and unique event that you will never forget.

Garden concert at the Villa Massena – May 15, 2024 at 7pm – A magical garden to experience Vivaldi – The Four Seasons, with dancers like garden sprites.  The hour-long concert finishes with a Champagne toast for everybody.  Tickets 20€

Jazz/Blues/Rock Concerts in Nice  Besides nightly concerts at local jazz clubs and rock bars, there is also a robust monthly concert schedule with Nice Music Live;  the concerts at Theatre de Verdure, Black Box, and Stockfish, all have easy tramway access.

Sunday Orchestra Concerts – FREE – Every Sunday at 3:30pm the Nice Orchestra d’Harmonie gives a free concert in the either the Church in the Port (tram stop Port) or the Basilica Notre Dame (tram stop Jean Medecin).  Click here for this week’s concert program.

Classical Concerts in Nice – There is a whole slate of at least 10 classical concerts every month by different Baroque and Classical ensembles performing in Nice’s fabulous Baroque Churches.

The Nice Opera has all kinds of events going on every week: Here is this month’s schedule

  • Insider Tip:  The Nice Opera ticket office has a last-minute ticket line, where one hour before the performance, unsold tickets drop to half-price …and for students and under-30s tickets are just 5€! 

Flower Festivals

Fete de la Rose at the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild in Saint-Jean-cap-Ferrat – May 4/5 2024 – Roses were Beatrice the Baroness of Rothschild’s favorite flower, and it shows in this magnificent celebration in the elegant gardens.

ExpoRose in Grasse – May 8-12, 2024 – tickets 5€-  The perfume capital of France honors the majestic rose in this weekend festival.

Les Floralies Antibes Juan-les-Pins en Fleurs –  May 27-29, 2024, free

Free Parc Phoenix Weekend for local residents – Free – The first full weekend of each month Parc Phoenix nature park/arboretum is free to local residents (but you need to bring proof: a recent phone or electric bill, or tax notice).  Right after lunch is the busiest time with a line to get in so mornings or late afternoons are best.  Tram stop Parc Phoenix

See Related Pages:

  • What to do on Sundays in Nice – free afternoon orchestra concerts, free museum days, special family-friendly concert matinees at the Opera House, and of course numerous Catholic masses to choose from…
  • Nice by Nite – concerts, jazz clubs, salsa and tango venues, pub quiz nights, English-language theater and movie venues…

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