Carnaval de Nice, Nice Carnival – Parade of Lights 2024

Bonjour! Welcome to the colorful and vibrant Nice Carnival! It’s the most popular winter event on the Cote d’Azur and one of the world’s renowned carnivals, alongside the ones in Rio De Janeiro and Venice. Nice Carnival takes place each year, around mid-February, for 2 whole weeks. During that time thousands of people visit the city to experience the event’s electrifying atmosphere and to see dozens of colorful floats decorated under the season’s theme parade moving to the rhythm of festive music.

Each year a different theme is featured. Over the last decades, there have already been themes like King of Fashion, King of Fools, King of the Mediterranean, King of Gastronomy, King of .comMedi@, or King of Space.

In 2024 the spirit of the Carnival was found in pop culture (King of Pop Culture), meaning a form of culture transmitted via the mass media (movies, TV shows, music, books, video games, etc.). 

Carnaval de Nice, Nice Carnival 2024 - Parade of Lights 2024
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Created by Sonia & Wojtek

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Nice Carnival short history

First mention of Carnaval de Nice dates back to 1294 but it grew bigger only at the end of the 19th century. In 1873 a festivities committee was founded to promote Nice and attract wealthy visitors who came to the area to escape winter. And that’s when the parade of floats and costumed performers made their appearance and the carnival became a real spectacle.

Separate flower parades entered the scene in 1876. The King (one of the main sculptures/floats) was introduced to the parade in 1882, the Queen followed in 1893 and the prince (Carnavalon) arrived in the 1930s.

Nice Carnival 2024 - The King
Nice Carnival 2024 - The Queen
Nice Carnival 2024 - The Prince "Carnavalon"

Parade of Lights during Nice Carnival 2024

Parade of Lights is the main Nice Carnival event and a truly spectacular one! The parade takes place outdoors by night, on Place Massena and around the Albert 1er Garden. It includes giant extravagant floats with impressive animated sculptures (12m tall on average), as well as dozens of various performers like entertainer Big Heads or music/dance groups. All of them bring their own magic to the event. The Parade of Lights lasts about 90 minutes.

During each Parade of Lights, you can admire the King who traditionally parades at the beginning, the Queen in the second position, and their child – Carnavalon in the third place. After the royal family goes their loyal subjects, all following the theme of the year with humor and imagination. If you want to learn more about this fascinating Nice Carnival royal family tradition visit website.

Nice Carnival - Parade of Lights 2024 - Super Mario Bros
Nice Carnival - Queen 2024
Carnaval de Nice - Haribo Boy
Carnaval de Nice 2024 - The King starting the Parade of Lights

Giant heads, each measuring approximately 2.5m, follow the floats and entertain the crowd. Like the floats, they follow the theme of the carnival. There are around 100 of them, alongside street art and musical groups from all over the world.

If you choose to take part in the closing parade, you’ll also witness fireworks and… burning of the King. It symbolizes the end of winter and the arrival of spring.

The 2024 King of Pop Culture theme featured many amazing floats, with figures especially well known to the younger generations, probably mostly millennials and Gen X. There were Jedis, Harry Potter, Super Mario, Indiana Jones, Minions, Haribo, Barbie, Wonka, Matrix, or Elon Musk just to name a few!

Carnaval de Nice - Willy Wonka float
Nice Carnival 2024 - Indiana Jones and Jurassic Park
Nice Carnival - Walt Disney World
Nice Carnival 2024 - Car float
Nice Carnival - Parade of Lights 2024 - Barbie World

Official site and tickets

To learn more about carnival, current dates, additional events, and ticket prices be sure to visit Nice Carnival official website.

Our video from 2024 Nice Carnival

Our opinion about Parade of Lights 2024

We experienced the Nice Carnival in February 2024, during the second Parade of Lights. After the not-so-great Golden Fruits Parade during the Menton Lemon Festival, we went there without any special expectations and… we had a blast! From the first minute to the last, we had such an amazing time. What’s more, it turned out that the 2024 theme was just perfect for us – we went down a lovely memory lane to our childhood/teenage years.

Carnaval de Nice is a truly one-of-a-kind event that we think everyone should see at least once in a lifetime. Such an amazing vibe, and such cool energy! Also, we’re super glad it lived up to the hype. We’ll definitely come back for the next editions!

Nice Carnival - Parade of Lights 2024 - Popular TV seriesjpg
Nice Carnival - Parade of Lights 2024 - Anime float
Nice Carnival - Parade of Lights 2024 - Matrix and Elon Musk
Nice Carnival - Parade of Lights 2024 - Barbie Pink World

Our advice for you? Looks like Parade of Lights is much more fun than its daytime counterpart so we’d recommend choosing this one. Also, remember to book your tickets about 2 months in advance. We chose seats on Place Massena in the first row on the Jean Jaures stand (close to the fountain) and we’re glad that we did! We had a great view. Select your tickets and… just have an amazing time during the carnival!

Happy Little Travelers during Nice Carnival

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Carnaval de Nice, Nice Carnival - Parade of Lights 2024

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