Carnaval de Nice
Though the largest carnival celebrations may be in Rio or Venice, Nice organizes a family-friendly schedule of celebratory events commemorating the festival. Ready to explore a significant section of Nice’s history and current claim to fame, I prepared for participation in the fête.
The origins of carnival celebrations are not clear beyond their pagan roots, as there are many explanations for the glutinous gatherings. A popular possibility, however, is that Christians adopted the parties to precede Lent. The days of carnival allow for freedom and liberation, peaking in Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. No matter the original reason, carnival is now a time for people to come together and find the fun in society, and more importantly, themselves.
Le Roi de l’Énergie
The theme of this year’s celebrations was the King of Energy, and my first event was the Carnival Parade. Though there are multiple showings of this procession throughout the festival week, I attended a weeknight production with the other students in my program.
Our cheap tickets sent us to a space to stand, closer to the action, while bleacher reservations were available at a higher price. It may have been the day of the week we chose to attend, but the seated spectators were stoic and dull despite the animated attempts of the carnival dancers to engage the crowd. I appreciated standing and dancing along the parade route, even though, by the end, I was partied out.
Civically proud, as the French are, many carnival floats portrayed political messages. Among the displays of the Green Queen’s clean energy and the renewable energy of love, Donald Trump made his way down the street as the world’s new oil captain in a “wind of change,” and the French presidential candidates continued along the route on their ceaseless, election cycle wheel.
Bataille des Fleurs
My second carnival activity was the Flower Parade. In addition to the entertainment that the flower-filled floats would provide, their deconstruction, in which flower bouquets would be thrown to the crowd, was another incentive for attending. Unfortunately, the floats were underwhelming, only adorned with flowers and not composed of them, as I had expected. And, though it may just have been by chance, but I didn’t get any flowers! You had to be 6 years old, 60 years old, or have a 6-foot-tall friend to catch a bouquet.
The Carnival Parade is worth the time, with reasonable expectations. I do not know how past festivals have been celebrated, but because of continuing terrorist attacks in France, Carnival has recently been adjusted to accommodate safety concerns. The Flower Parade, however, disappointed. Nonetheless, Carnival hosts many other events over its 10-day duration, so there are plenty of other celebrations to explore.
Paix, Amour, Nice,