Menton Carnival / Fête du Citron

Every winter one of France’s most popular events is held in Menton on the French Riviera: the Lemon Festival, also known as the Carnaval de Menton or Fête du Citron. It is the second largest winter event on the French Riviera after the famous Carnival in Nice.

Entire buildings, clock towers, trains, and castles made from lemons? Yes. Each February, this is precisely the stuff that you find on the town of Menton in the French Riviera.

The Lemon Festival / Menton Carnival was founded in 1934 and attracts over 230,000 visitors annually. More than 300 professionals are involved, and 145 tons of citrus fruits are used. Each year the sculptures have a different theme.

During the Menton Lemon Festival, all kinds of events are available. There are the Golden Fruit Parades where giant sculptures roll down the street with musicians, folk groups, and majorettes. Then there are processions of the evenings, and then fireworks across the bay. The Biovès Gardens host the Light Gardens, which displays the artworks in light and sound displays. The Palais de l’Europe offers several exhibitions near the Gardens, including the Festival of the Orchid, in which you can pick up jams inspired by the citrus fruit, jellies, honey, soap, and perfumes.

Local bands play throughout the day, and the Palais de l’Europe is home to the night shows. There are various guided tours of the Palais Carnolès , the most extensive collection of citrus fruit in Europe, from pomace trees to kumquats. There are also several guided tours of the palace, for example, from the jam factory and the citrus grove.

Lemon Festival Highlights

The entire festival has four main parts: The Exhibition of Citrus Patterns, the Golden Fruit Parades, the Gardens of Lights, and the Evening Parades. Here are the details and schedule of each event:

Exhibition of Citrus Patterns

Biovès Gardens will be filled with many large sculptures made of citrus fruits, available to view throughout the festival. The sculptures are unbelievable, some of them requiring almost 15 tonnes of fruit secured in placed one by one. A tradition carefully preserved since the beginning of the last century.

Dates: February 13 to 28, 2021

Schedules: Monday to Saturday from 10am to 6pm; on Thursdays from 10am to 7pm; on Sundays from 9am to 7pm (NOTE: on February 13, opening hour is 2pm).

Location: Bioves Garden (main entrance in Casino Barriere)

Golden Fruit Parades

On Sunday morning, parade sculptures are driven down narrow streets, eventually meeting on the seafront. Expect confetti, entertainers, brass bands, and dancing groups among the splendid floats of citrus fruit.

Dates: February 14 and 21 and 28, 2021 (Sundays)

Schedules: Parades start at 2:30pm and end at approximately 4pm

Location: Promenade du Soleil (at the seafront)

Gardens of Lights

Light and sound displays at night light up the sculptues and make them even more striking. Be immersed in a world where the light and sound create a magical and delightful place of unbelievable splendor, and time seems to stand still.

Dates: February 13, 16, 19, 23, 26, 2021

Schedule: Open from 8:30pm to 10:30pm, the recommended time is around 9:30pm after the lights have been fully set-up.

Location: Bioves Garden (main entrance in the front of Casino Barriere), in central Menton.

Evening Parades

Time to party! Accompanying the parade are brass bands, bands, folk groups, dancers, and a spark of splendor add to the parade worthy of the most ambitious street festivals. And for a finale: fireworks!

Dates: February 18 and 25, 2021 (Thursdays)

Schedule: The parade starts at 9pm and ends at approximately 10:15pm. The fireworks on last day start at 10:30pm.

Location: Promenade du Soleil (at the seafront)

Video Overview of Menton’s Lemon Festival

Insider Tips for the Festival

Unfortunately, being smaller than NiceMenton is severely affected by the invasion of guests during this time. There are traffic jams everywhere, and crowds of people march down the narrow streets and along the promenade.

In case you think that this event is a big waste of food (we do too!), know that you can stock up on cheap fruit as it’s all for sale after the festival (there’s also plenty of citron-related products for sale throughout the festival).

If you are going to the parades, make sure you get there at least 90 minutes early as there are security checks and it’s tough to get around the city center, especially if you have a pushchair and children. 

Avoid the weekends, as they’re packed. The least-crowded times to go are weekday mornings.

2021 Fête du Citron / Lemon Festival Event Details

Event Details: Festival

Frequency: Yearly

Dates: February 13 to 28, 2021

Cost: Ticket prices vary. Get tickets here.

Contact: +33492417676

Social Media: YouTube, Facebook, Twitter #FeteDuCitron

Website: Official website

For more events, check out our complete Monaco & the French Riviera events calendar.

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