Events: Carnival lovers hope the sun shines for event
Festival fun in Nice starts today
While most of our northern neighbours experience snow blizzards at this time of year while the Riviera is bursting with life and colour under an azure blue sky. However, this February's weather is colder and harsher than usual, with heavy snowfalls yesterday across the Riviera turning the ambiance of the pre-spring festivals upside down. Festival organisers are hoping for a let up in the weather so parades can go ahead.
All along the coast carnivals and festivals will take to the streets this weekend. Today Friday the 12th February 2010 is the kick off date for events in Nice, Menton and Mandelieu.
Nice welcomes international guests, to enjoy the most awaited event of the year when the carnival King reigns for two weeks. Menton celebrates its reputation as the citrus fruit capital with lemon and orange dressed floats and elaborate immense fruit sculptures in its gardens. At night the town buzzes with the moonlit parade to the rhythm of musicians, followed by impressive fireworks displays. While Mandelieu is a haven for lovers of the perfumed mimosa flower.
This year you would be forgiven for thinking the Nice carnival has a touch of King Kong terror to it. A guest appearance from a scary spider called Sid is not your usual attraction at this event and nor is he your typical itsy bitsy spider.Sid is a 30-foot high, bouncy crippy crawly puppet who will tramp larger-than-life through the city's streets and along the Prom.
Perhaps his presence has something to do with this year's theme "King of the Blue Planet" and maybe Sid is a grotesque reminder of the weird mutations in the animal world which await us if we don't start taking more care of our planet.
But aside from the environmental wake-up call Sid is there for the fun. This fuzzy friend promises to have you staring in awe and nervously laughing as you run from its lunging limbs and top-heavy head. The Riviera Times spoke to Sid's creator, English man Paul Miskin, who along with his partner Maysie Sharp founded the UK-based Neighbourhood Watch Stilts International & Soznak company fifteen years ago.
He is delighted to come to Nice. "It is a great gig that allows us to perform to very large numbers." And it seems Sid loves the attention, having recently performed to 100,000 people in southern Spain and as far flung as Beijing once upon a time. "Sid is a cast member of our show but he is very popular as a solo performer and is our most sophisticated puppet."
What inspired you to create Sid? "I think he is a kind of revenge for the bouncy castle. Instead of children bouncing on him, it’s his turn." When asked how the puppet works Paul jokes that it is thanks to NASA technology. Given the altitude Sid reaches I was inclined to believe him. In fact, one person operates each leg and in all it takes a team of 11 "to control the beast". He is fully mobile and mimics the gaunt of a real spider realistically.
It was natural that Paul fell into a creative profession. "My father spent much time painting in France. My mum had a big influence on me. When I was seven she made me a dragon costume from chicken wire and papier mâché with these incredibly real scrawny feet. I scared so many children they told me to take my feet off so I’d be less realistic!" Paul admits that the fun part is to scare as well as entertain. He is clearly a fun-loving child at heart.
Paul has been visiting the south of France all his life and speaks "un peu" of the lingo. No words needed for Sid though - he speaks for himself.
Riviera festival highlights:
Mandelieu La Napoule: Mimosa festival (12th - 21st Feb)
Flower parades: Sundays 14th & 21st from 2.30pm (2 hrs) on the promenade and avenue H. Clews.
Nocturnal parades:Saturdays 13th & 20th from 6.30pm along the promenade & from 7.30pm music at place Estérel Gallery.
Menton: Lemon festival (12th Feb - 3rd March)
Moonlit parades: Thurs 18th & 25th 8.30pm on the Promenade du Soleil
Parade of Golden Fruit: Sundays 14th, 21st & 28th at 2.30pm on Promenade du soleil
Nice carnvial (12th - 28th Feb)
Place Masséna & parades (1.5hrs) on the Promenade des Anglais
Friday 12th at 8.30 pm – Arrival of the King and Queen
Sat 13th, 20th & 27th flower parade 2.30pm & parade 9pm
Sunday 14th, 21st & 28th carnasocca at 11 am & parade at 2.30pm
Tuesday 16th (Shrove Tuesday) 11am to 5pm – Festive Fun Corner; at 2.30pm parade; 5-7pm children’s dance at place Masséna
Wed 17th & 24th - flower parade at 2.30pm
Sunday 28th 10.30am Bartenders race; 11am carnasocca; 2.30pm parade; 8pm Burning of the King parade & fireworks
You can find the best pictures in our picture galeries...