Nice has more festivals than most cities have streets. There is always a festival around the corner. From the famous Nice Jazz Festival to the grand Carnival of Nice, there is something for all tastes.
Nice Jazz festival, which used to be held in the historic surroundings of the Roman site at Cimiez but has since moved to the city centre, is one of the three major Jazz events in Europe drawing more than 500 musicians. Held every July, it brings together music from the full jazz spectrum, from gospel and blues to fusion and urban funk. Jazz festivals like this one are known to have more contemporary musicians, such as rock bands. It is worth checking out the programme, as it sometimes contains surprises. The Jazz festival in Juan Les Pins, also held in July, is another very popular festival that attracts equally famous artists.
Nice comes alive each June with the Fete de la Musique, which is a huge outdoor music event. Everyone that can sing or play an instrument stakes out a street corner and entertains the huge crowds that gather before wandering onto the next artist. The Old Town gets so busy it’s hard to move, with bars sporting competing bands to keep punters from drifting too far. Every possible type of music is catered for, and you are sure to discover something you have not heard before.
The Carnival de Nice is a centuries-old celebration that brings together concerts, parties and numerous parades. Held every February, the Carnival is 10 days of fun for all the family. Dating back to the middle ages, people from all over the globe have been descending on Nice each year to cut loose and have fun. Music parades, mock battles and street music will entertain you for hours. Nice’s bars and restaurants are as busy during the carnival as they are in August, as hundreds of thousands of people descend into Nice. Entrance fees for a handful of the sea-front carnivals are €10 for standing and €20 for a ring seat. The Carnival, which has a different theme each year, attracts well over 1m visitors. The torch-lit flower parade is one of the most beautiful events of the Carnival.
The Festival Internationale de Music Milataire, the brainchild of Mayor Jacques Peyrat, is an annual festival showcasing military music from all around the world. An extraordinary event, it attracts close to 10,000 military enthusiasts, veterans, historians and music-lovers of all kinds. Held in such locations as Place Massena, Theatre de Verdure and Cathedral St. Reparante, all of the concerts are free.
The Vieux-Nice Baroque Concert is a tribute to the Baroque period that has marked Nice’s architecture and culture. Gilbert Bezzina, first violin and director of the Nice Baroque Ensemble, has brought a newfound musical glory to the area’s many churches and chapels. Lasting from October to April, this series of concerts give music-lovers the chance to appreciate Baroque compositions in context. For tickets, go to FNAC.
The annual Fete de la St. Jean is held on the longest day of each year. Wood fires are lit on the beach and a torchlight procession snakes its way through Nice. Folk dances, kid’s shows and food stalls of local specialities are the main activities.
The Fete de la musique sacre is where music blends with architecture. The churches of the old town are filled with the classical sounds of Bach, Mozart and Couperin. Organ and choral music are the main attractions, given the quality of the music.
The Orchestre d’Harmonie de la ville de Nice plays concerts every Sunday from the bandstand in Jardin Albert 1st. From December until March, concerts are held in the city’s churches and auditoriums.
Bastille day, a national holiday held every July 14th, brings a stunning fireworks display on the Promenade, which can be seen for miles.