Nice Carnaval

Nice Carnaval

January-February; three weekends before Shrove Tuesday
Dating back to the late 13th century and deriving, some believe, from ancient rites of spring, the Carnival celebration in Nice, France, is one of the Mediterranean resort town's most picturesque spectacles. It actually begins about three weeks before Shrove Tuesday with the arrival of King Carnival. The next two Saturdays and Sundays are filled with processions, confetti battles, and masked balls. The processions of floats, each accompanied by marchers or riders on horseback wearing elaborate costumes, draw large crowds. There are also parades of "big heads," large heads representing various personages made of pasteboard, and huge panels of light illustrating the year's theme decorate the Place Messena, the carnival grounds in the heart of Nice. During the last five days before Shrove Tuesday, a grand charivari, or street party, ensues with roving musicians, singers, and actors mingling with onlookers. On Shrove Tuesday, King Carnival is burnt in a bonfire on the shore and fireworks close out the long pre-Lenten celebration.
Flowers play an important role in the Nice Carnaval, for it is in the south of France that the flowers for French perfume are grown. During the festivities, there are several afternoons devoted to Bataille de Fleurs, Parades of Flowers, consisting of some 20 floats, all meticulously decorated with 4,000-5,000 fresh flowers.
CONTACTS:
Nice Convention and Visitors Bureau
BP 4079
Nice, 06302 France
33-8-9270-7407; fax: 33-4-9214-4649
www.nicetourisme.com/GB/som.html
SOURCES:
BkFest-1937, p. 120
BkFestHolWrld-1970, p. 33
BkHolWrld-1986, Feb 20
DictFolkMyth-1984, p. 192
EncyRel-1987, vol. 3, p. 101
FestWestEur-1958, p. 34
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