When people in the U.S. think Mardi Gras they think New Orleans. Mardi Gras season is the festive period before Lent celebrated by Catholics. Internationally this time of year is known as Carnival. Carnival is most famously celebrated in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, but what is speculated to be the oldest Carnival celebration is an annual event: Carnival in Nice, France.
Nice’s population is only 350,000 but the city gets over a million visitors during Carnival in February. Nice’s Mediterranean climate makes it a good getaway spot for this time of year as the temperature is generally in the mid 50’s and it rarely snows. Like Mardi Gras in New Orleans parades are the focal point of the celebration. There are three general categories of parades: the Carnival Parades which are based on that year’s Carnival theme, the Flower Parades which as the name implies consists of floats decked out with thousands of flowers, and the Parade of Lights which are held at night and light up the city with floats and entertainment.
In addition to the parades there are boat races, fireworks, and the climax of the entire festival, the burning of the King. This tradition dates back over 100 years. The King float is burned in a giant bonfire. It is quite the sight to behold. There are also plenty of opportunities to sample the local food at the food stands. This being France the “fair food” is generally a cut above the rest. The small pastries and finger foods offered by the stalls will keep you full and occupied all day.
Carnival in Nice goes from February 18th to March 8th. Experience the premier Winter Mediterranean festival and arrange your car rental in France today!