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There’s a place in Provence that occasionally goes to war using Flowers

The Carnival King and the Battle of Flowers are a few reasons why this extravagant festival now attracts millions of people, as well as a host of filmmakers, journalists, and probably some bees too.

Carnival King

The most eye-grabbing part of the festival, especially towards to the end, is the Carnival King. After being dragged through the city for the parade and the Battle of Flowers (we’ll get to that later), he is set on fire at the beach, ending the carnival in flames and fireworks.
The carnival king has always been the monarch of something, but it’s not often the same thing. Here are the previous names that the king has been known under:

Here is the programme for the 2014 Nice Carnival

Battle of the Flowers

The Battle of Flowers commences during the parade of the King and the other puppets. Thousands of flowers are thrown from the floats and into the crowd around them.

We’re not sure if there’s as much violent intent as the name suggests, but then there may be pointy petals, thorns, or venom on them that we just haven’t discovered…nah.

It’s more like one of those jubilant and colourful battles, reserved specifically for this kind of festival.

Read more about Nice Carnival’s Battle of Flowers.

Festival Origins

If longevity is how you judge a festival’s worth, how is around 700 years?

It may be considered slow growth at this rate, but Charles Anjou started the festival in 1294, meaning it’s probably the oldest carnival in the Western world, if not all of it.

If, through some alternate history, Charles Anjou decided to do something other than a carnival, we may never had come up with the concept at all, meaning festivities would be potentially limited, but also that the idea of carnivalesque would not exist.

Here are things that involve carnivalesque:

  1. Shakespeare
  2. Lots of literature, from Russian classics to Angela Carter.
  3. Modern-day night life

What we’re saying, in no uncertain terms, is that Charles Anjou is responsible for Shakespeare, books and also night time.

Shakespeare_Cobbe_portrait_detail

What a guy.

The start of Motion Picture

As a testament to the fame of the festival, there was a short documentary filmed in 1903, showing the parade and carnival in glorious black and white.

We can’t find a copy of this documentary, but if you can point us in the right direction, we’d love to see it.

How does it stay popular?

There’s room to wonder on how these festivals stay so popular. With popular music festivals dominating the summer scene in most of Europe, more traditional festivals could be seen as taking a back seat in people’s minds, yet this one doesn’t.

A large part of that simply must be tradition and the sheer amount of history supporting this festival. It’s a fairly sure bet that Nice Carnival will be around for a while.

A Region of festivities

The amount of festivals, carnivals and events held in Provence are far above those of its neighbours, both domestic and international.

Read more about Provence culture

With the biggest film festival in the world, Festival de Cannes just a little further East, and the truffle festivals of Richerences are some of the biggest truffle-based events in the world, even having religious orders as part of the celebrations.