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Nice carnival returns after two-year break caused by Covid

Tonight’s opening ceremony is expected to welcome 5,000 people. This year’s carnival has an animal theme

Floats taking part in a previous Nice carnival

In previous years, the Nice carnival has attracted 20,000 people per day, but this year it is expected to see around 12,000 Pic: litchi cyril photographe / Shutterstock

The Nice carnival is returning today (February 11), in “almost-normal” conditions, two years after it was shortened and then cancelled due to Covid-19. Around 12,000 people are expected to attend every day.

The event in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur city will run from today until February 27. This year’s theme is “Roi des Animaux (King of the Animals)”.

It was shortened in 2020 and cancelled in 2021 due to the health crisis. 

Read more: Nice's carnival replaced by… a giant blue Covid sculpture 

This year is the first that it will go ahead “as normal”, although only 12,000 people are expected to attend per day, compared to the 20,000 seen in previous years. Attendance requires people to wear a mask and show proof of vaccination. 

The opening ceremony, which begins at 18:30 today in Place Masséna, will have 5,000 people in attendance. Tickets are free, but reserved for local residents. 

Floats have already begun to be installed, ready for the event to begin.

‘No guarantees’

Nice mayor Christian Estrosi explained that there had been no guarantees that the event would go ahead this year, and that the decision to proceed had been made at a late stage.

He said: “We envisaged all possibilities, depending on the state of the pandemic. But in the past few days, we’ve seen [cases] drop massively. Conditions came together, but a month and a half ago we didn’t know if they would. 

“And we’ve also been really lucky with the weather.”

From tomorrow (Saturday, February 12), 9,000 people will be welcomed, while 12,000 people will be able to attend from Wednesday, February 16. Spectators will be able to watch standing up.

Caroline Constantin, carnival director, said: “We are applying government measures strongly. The site is so well done, as it’s in the round, so we have been able to spread people out so they are safe.”

The event is estimated to be worth €30million to the Nice economy.

‘Meeting people again’

One local resident, Gabrielle, told FranceInfo: “Covid made us all stay at home, so I think it’s great to be out meeting people again. It’s pretty, it’s festive!”

Another resident, a young woman who is set to dress up as a deer to take part in this year’s theme, said: “We are very very happy that [carnival] is going ahead this year. It allows us to meet actual humans; otherwise, how can we see them?” 

The Nice carnival is one of the only events of its kind to go ahead this year so far – in France and internationally – after both the Dunkirk event and the world-famous Rio de Janeiro carnival have both been cancelled, due to continued Covid pressure.

Related articles

Nice's carnival replaced by… a giant blue Covid sculpture 

Creating carnival works of art is full-time business 

Dunkirk carnival 'seagull cry' contest has new winner

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