Revive the Carnival Spirit!Every year, thousand of people travel to Nice to experience Carnival… the biggest party on the winter calendar. Italians corme en mass over the border, Nice Airport is occupied with familles travelling in from throughout Europe, and Frenchies converge with their costumed-up children bearing countless cans of silly spray. Yet, for the people of my y demographic (25-45 year old English-speaking people) the Nice Carnival appears to hold less charm. So, I ﬁgured that perhaps it’s time we erevive the Carnival spirit and take advantage of everything this ancient festival represents.
First, a bit about the Carnival:
The Carnival theme this year is the Mediterranean Sea, hence the little orange octopus logo. Over 20 days the Mediterranean’s history, nature and astounding diversity will be explored. The Carnival will also have a guest of honour, Italy, in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the uniﬁcation of the Kingdom of Italy. So we can expect even more visitors from our border country this year! Each parade will include groups from Italy and special events will be held in their honour.
As well as being an ecologically sensitive carnival, this year’s event is also now politically correct, with the all-important Carnival King welcoming his Queen by his side as they make their grand entrance on the Promenade des Anglais.
Everything else that’s fun:
While we are not a particularly religious bunch nowadays, we can take advantage of the revelries. Carnival traditionally signais the last opportunity for indulgence and excess before the forty-day fast of Lent. For hundreds of years, people indulged in rich and fatty cuisine during this two-week period. So, why not put that calorie counter aside and start eating! Use this opportunity to indulge in rich French cuisine, particularly that which you have never tried before — raclette, fondue savoyarde, foie gras, duck conﬁt, tartiﬂette, andouillette, French cheeses, crème caramel, macaroons, soufﬂé, and tarte tartin. Splash out and purchase a a good bottle of French wine or champagne. After ail, this is ail about v indulgence!
[pullquote_right][/pullquote_right] Carnival was also a time when ail excesses were authorized by the church; when people could mock everything and everybody behind the o safety of a mask. What a wonderful excuse to host a masquerade party! Masks can be purchased from a variety of stores throughout Nice, including Festival on rue du Lycée.
Every Sunday throughout the Carnival at 11am, there is a local brunch called Carnasocca. There’s no entrance fee, just an abundance of this Nice speciality, made with chickpea ﬂour and olive oil. it’s a unique opportunity to ‘tear bread’ with the locals and carnival crew.
Coinciding with Carnasocca on February 20th is the Carnival Dip at Ruhl Plage, where decidedly daring (or dim-witted) folks take to the water for a winter dip in the Mediterranean. Grab some friends and head to the shore and see who is brave (or still intoxicated from the previous night) enough to hit the water ﬁrst!
The Carnival itself may be popular with families, but anyone with an interest in the arts will ﬁnd the street parades fascinating. The giant papier mâché ﬁgures are created using ancient techniques, and some of the ﬁnest artists and costume makers are called in to bring them to lite.
The ﬂoats’ designs can vary from contemporary to downright bizarre, like a giant ﬂying gunwielding, cigar smoking, Sicillian godfather octopus; a few interpretations of the tourist; the balls of Picasso; and a long-legged, big-headed blonde from Saint Tropez. The ﬂoats and big heads are only on public show during the parades, so why not fork out the 10E entrance fee and see for yourself why this is considered one of the top carnivals in the world.
The Carnival ends in a spectacular show of ﬂames and ﬁreworks on March 9th. lt seems quite a dishonourable end to the Carnival King, being incinerated just metres from where he made his almighty entrance.
Even more impressive is the Château, illuminated by numerous ﬂashing red and white lights, and strategically placed smoke machines, creating the illusion that Nice is under attack! And of course the ﬁreworks are fun, no matter what your age.
The Nice Carnival is one of the largest, most respected festivals in the world. So why ﬂot take one, or ail, aspects of this celebration and have some fun? You’ve got 20 days to be true te the Carnival spirit!
8:30pm Friday 18 February, Promenade des Anglais
2:30pm: 19th, 23rd, 26th, 2nd, 5th
2:30pm: 20th, 22nd, 27th, 1st, 6th
9pm: 19th, 26th, 5th
Carnasocca (local brunch)
11am every Sunday
11:00am Sunday 20th February
Closing Night Tuesday 8th March
8pm – Incineration of the King