Each February the streets of Nice are filled with the fun and excitement of their lavish winter carnival. The main winter event to take place on the French Riviera and one of the largest carnivals in the world, the Nice Carnival 2017 is ready to offer you an unforgettable experience.
The 2017 carnival takes place from 11th to 25th February with the theme 'King of Energy' (Roi de l'Energie), so it is sure to be a lively affair! With over 1000 musician, dancers and characters to enjoy this is an event not to be missed.
How to get there
Without a doubt, the easiest way to get to Nice is to arrive at the International airport situated just 7km outside of the city centre. With numerous International, European and local French flights landing here every day you would be hard pushed not to find a convenient flight to suit your needs (have a look at our flight finder to find the right one for you). Once you have arrived at the airport a 20-minute bus ride will take you straight into the centre of town.
If you were considering driving here then think twice before you do so. Apart from the traffic getting in and out of the city at this busy time of year, you should remember that several of the main streets in the heart of Nice will be closed to traffic during the carnival so navigating the city by car could be difficult. Parking in the centre will also prove challenging during the three weeks of the event. If you are driving then you can use the Parcazur car parks and take the tramway to reach the city centre.
Another quick and convenient way to get to Nice is by train. As the main train station on the Cote d'Azur, the Gare de Nice Ville is connected to the rest of the France via the SNCF train network, with the TGV (France's high-speed rail service) running daily, direct from Paris.
Where to stay
Being a cosmopolitan city and France's fifth largest city means that you will not be short of accommodation options. From the Grand Dame hotels of the Promenade des Anglais, filled with character and history, to the budget hotels of the city centre and the charming Provencal style B&B's, you'll be spoilt for choice. But do remember that February is a busy time. The Nice Carnival rivals Rio in popularity so you will need to book well in advance for some of the more specialised accommodation or boutique hotels. Luckily you will always be able to find a last minute room in one of the many city hotels.
If you fancy making more of a romantic weekend out of your trip - the event does take place over Valentine's Day - then why not consider a spa retreat or boutique hotel in one of the nearby villages? St Paul de Vence, Eze and Grasse all have a selection of beautiful chateaux style retreats that are only a short train ride away from the heart of Nice.
Booking for the Carnival
The actual Carnival parades take place on the Tuesday and Saturday nights over the three-week long festival, with an additional Sunday afternoon parade taking place on the 19th February. The flower battles take place on the Saturday afternoons (11th, 18th and 25th February) as well as on Wednesday 15th & 22nd February. Tickets are best bought in advance for all of these events, especially if you are wanting to get tickets for the reserved seating area. You can book tickets in advance on the official website from mid-December and print yourself an E-ticket.
Tickets will also be available from the start of January 2017 at the Office du Tourisme et des Congrès in the Jardin Albert 1er. If you are more of a last minute kind of person then you can take your chance before each event and purchase tickets at the ticket offices located near the site - if there are any left! This is definitely more of a risk and not advisable if you are planning to attend the opening or closing events.
It is possible to make group bookings but you will need to contact them directly in order to make this arrangement. You should also contact them directly if you or anyone in your party is disabled and needs special assistance or access. This can be arranged by prior notification.
If you are travelling with young children then it is worth noting access is free to both standing and the reserved seating for children under the age of 5 years. There is a reduced entry fee for children up to the age of 10 years of age.
Want to get into the spirit of things? Spectators wearing full fancy-dress have free access to the standing area Place Masséna for the Carnival parades (however a simple accessory or mask is not sufficient and there is no free access to Flower Parades).
Where to eat
The city of Nice has no shortage of good quality cafes and restaurants and you will find the majority of them situated around Vieux Nice. This area is particularly convenient for the Carnival as the parade passes through neighbouring Place Massena and along Boulevard Jean Jaures and Avenue Felix Faure. Restaurants in this part of town are likely to be busy on each of the carnival days as families and groups of friends flock to the area for lunch or for dinner. Advance reservations will certainly make your life easier and save you wandering the streets looking for food. Start planning now.
What else to do in Nice
Coming to Nice in February means enjoying the Cote d'Azur as it was first intended, as a winter destination. Until the 1920’s, the French Riviera was exclusively a winter-time resort, with royals, artists and celebrities drawn here by the clarity of light and the mild winter climate. The never ending sunshine means that you can forget those winter blues and enjoy some sightseeing in the beautiful city. With galleries and museums open all year round you won't be short of places to visit and even the outdoor attractions such as the Fort du Mont Alban and the Colline du Chateau are a pleasure to visit in the mild weather. The traditional markets in Cours Saleya continue throughout the winter months with seasonal produce and delicious peppery Socca as a warming winter treat.
Dont' forget to check out our Events Calendar to see what else is on in Nice during your visit.