Citrus, flowers and floats: 2023 French Riviera winter festivals
From Carnival in Nice to the lemon festival in Menton, vibrant festivals abound in the winter, with entire towns celebrating mimosas, violets, lemons and more!
Fête du Mimosa
8 to 12 February
Created in 1931, the Mimosa Festival has become an essential event during which we celebrate the bright yellow flower that has been the symbol for the city and more broadly for the French Riviera.
Parades, light parades, flower parades, children's carnival, entertainment, wanderings, exhibitions, lively squares, flowering of streets and markets, as well as the inevitable election of Miss Mandelieu. Five days of intense festivities that will allow the public to share, have fun and celebrate the mimosa symbol of the winter sun of the Côte d'Azur.
This year’s theme celebrates ‘The Great Race Around the World’ inspired by the film by Blake Edwards, released in 1965 and itself retracing cinematographically “The Great Race” an extraordinary race which linked New York to Paris at the beginning of the 20th century.
Places can be reserved online.
*Read our article on the history of the mimosa flower here.
Carnaval de Nice
Promenade des Anglais & Place Masséna
10 – 26 February
The biggest carnival in France and one of the most famous in the world never ceases to amaze its spectators. Two weeks of festivities bring the city of Nice to life – the “Carnival Parades” (“Corsi”) day and night, and the elegant “Flower Parades” are on the schedule for this unmissable event. Lots of floats decorated and presented under the season’s theme parade to the rhythm of street art troupes and musical groups from all kinds of backgrounds (from all over the world), all in a colourful, festive, family atmosphere.
This year, the City of Nice went all-out for its 150th anniversary, so if you’ve been before, it will be even bigger and better this year! The theme this year is ‘Roi des Trésors du Monde’, or ‘King of World Treasures’, so keep your eye out for fantastical displays of world wonders.
The full schedule, maps and tickets are available online:
Fête du Citron
Along the Promenade du Soleil and in the Jardin Biovès, Menton 11 to 26 February
Prepare to be awed by larger-than-life structures made of hundreds of thousands of citrus fruits.
The Menton Fête du Citron (Lemon Festival) is unique in the world! For 15 days visitors can admire the gigantic citrus structures, on display in the centre of the city. But don’t miss the out-of-this-world nocturnal parades, the Artisan craft fair or the Orchid Festival with its unforgettable scents.
With more than 200,000 visitors each year this beautiful and tasty festival is sur to leave you in awe. How about a 50-foot statue of Madame Butterfly made of lemons and oranges? Seeing is believing and you can see that and several others with this year’s theme of ‘Rock & Opera’.
Flower Parade In Bormes-les-Mimosas
18 19 February
The “Corso Fleuri” has been going for over a hundred years! 12 tons of yellow sprigs and 80,000 flowers (mimosa, white heather, windflowers, carnations etc.) to dress up about fifteen floats, such is the challenge that the Borméans take up every year to prepare and take care of the most antique and secret parade on the Côte d'Azur! The floats make their way around the streets of the village.
Admission 6€, children up to 10 free. Parade at 2.30pm.
Village centre, Tourrettes-sur-Loup
4 to 5 March
Each year, this medieval mountain-top village celebrates its symbol flower, the violet. The first weekend in March, the Violet Festival decks the town in purple fragrant flower and announces the end of the season for the growers.
It was created in 1952 by Victor Linton, an artist of Scottish origin who settled in Tourrettes-sur-Loup, with the aim of honouring the town's horticulturalists and their know-how. Over the years and thanks to its flower parade, the Festival of Violets has become a real institution. The makeshift bicycles and carriages used in the first editions have given way to imposing floats entirely covered with ﬂeurs and made by small hands and associations. The festival weekend programme includes a market of local specialties, culinary treats made with violets, live music and more. Full programme online.
For a listing of Carnival events on the Italian Riviera, click here.