Monday, February 20, 2012

Vive Le Carnaval!

When you think of carnivals, the iconic destinations that come to mind include: Rio, New Orleans and Venice. But don't overlook Nice on the French Rivera. In the midst of frigid winter temperatures afflicting most of Europe, Nice holds its Carnaval festivities under mild clime and sunny skies. This year from February 17 to march 4, Nice will hold its 128th Carnaval and the theme is sport as a tribute to the upcoming Olympic Games in London in 2012.  As per tradition, a parade of some 20 dazzling and colorful flower covered floats will  take place day and night on the seafront along the famed Promenade des Anglais. Leading the way, is the King of Carnaval and its court made of traditional papier-mache. The unique characteristic of Nice Carnaval is the flower battle (bataille des fleurs) in which at top floats, armful of flowers (some 100,000) are thrown to the happy crowd. Nice and its surrounding region is a major producer of flowers and this is the occasion to showcase the quality and variety of its production. Ninety percent of the flowers used at the parade are produced locally --Jasmin, gladiolus, mimosa, daisies, carnations and roses. Of course,  Carnaval means music and dance. Thus,  musicians and theater groups from around the world accompany this joyful cortege. At the end of carnaval the King is paraded one more time then set afire while fireworks illuminate the night sky over the Mediterranean Sea. Long live Carnaval !!!

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