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Riviera Pebbles Blog: Summer Festivals in Nice

Posted on 6th May 2014 in Nice News


Summer festivals

The music lover’s calendar swings into spectacular action on the Summer Solstice, when the whole of France becomes a giant open-air stage. Created by the French Ministry for Culture in 1982, the Fete de la Musique is now held on 21st June in more than 100 countries around the world, but nowhere is it celebrated with greater style and enthusiasm than its birthplace.

A completely free event, musicians of every genre from up-and-coming hopefuls to well-known talent perform in public spaces for everyone to enjoy. Squares, parks, museums, castles, even railway stations, resound to the beat. Nice has always been at the forefront of the Fete, with a huge concert taking place at its heart on the Place Massena, as well as at numerous other locations throughout the city, especially in the Old Town, where the bars and street venues compete for the largest audiences.

Hot on the heels of the Fete de la Musique comes Nice’s own Fete du Chateau. On the 28th and 29th June, the best of local music talent takes to the two stages set in the beautiful surroundings of the castle hill, overlooking the bay below. Hugely popular with residents of the area, this is a chilled-out mini-festival, at which groups of friends take the chance to lie back on the grass, enjoy the view and the company, and let the music wash over them.

For something completely different, head to Vieux Nice, the Old Town, during the Festival de Musique Sacree in June, when various churches play host to live concerts of choral and instrumental religious music, performed by international artists. The powerful combination of this traditional sacred music and Nice’s impressive cathedral and Baroque churches produces something hauntingly beautiful. Tickets for some performances are available at the door an hour before the concert, offering an opportunity for a unique, spontaneous experience.

It is hard to imagine anything more perfect than relaxing with a drink as live jazz drifts and dances on the balmy evening air. And fans on the Riviera are completely spoilt this summer as two of the world’s most legendary and atmospheric jazz festivals take place one after the other.

The Nice Jazz Festival runs from 8th to 12th July with a packed itinerary of concerts held each night in and around Jardin Albert 1er near Place Massena. Tickets cover the whole evening’s entertainment (typically six sets), and with crowds every year of more than 30,000 – and organisers hoping for record audiences in 2014 – the vibe is relaxed but lively until late. The big-name line-up features a quirky mix of different sounds, from the Gipsy Kings and Keziah Jones to Deep Purple and Metronomy. Even before the final notes of Nice’s famous event have faded away, the star-studded programme of the jazz festival at Juan-les-Pins, just along the stunning Cote d’Azur, is underway. Jazz a Juan is an internationally renowned festival built on the glamorous town’s historic connections with New Orleans. The hand impressions of past performers from Ray Charles and Little Richard to Fats Waller and BB King adorn the paving stones of the Boulevard Edouard Baudoin. Europe’s oldest jazz festival takes place from 11th to 20th July this year, with the legendary Stevie Wonder and George Benson, Nile Rodgers, Stacey Kent, Jamie Cullum and Joss Stone all taking to the stage in the mythical Gould Pine Grove. Return to Nice for 14th July, when the city is guaranteed to bring its characteristic style and flair to the national Bastille Day celebrations. Think breathtaking fireworks on the iconic Promenade des Anglais boardwalk, lighting up the night sky and the Mediterranean below – all accompanied, inevitably, by live music.

Then Crazy Week, from 16th to 20th July this year, is a rock-pop festival with a contemporary twist. Aiming to recreate the eclectic feel of the average MP3 player, where music from all generations and cultures lives side by side, it spotlights an exciting combination of famous artists and promising newcomers – for five evenings at the small Theatre de Verdure, just across the Promenade des Anglais from the beach. Simple Minds are headlining in 2014, with the magical melting pot of other acts including Morcheeba and Joe Satriani. And, of course, there is nowhere better than Nice for recovering from all those late nights. Head for the beach and take it easy on a sun-lounger under the shade of an umbrella, or stroll the streets to one of the many fabulous cafes and blast away that hazy feeling with a coffee shot that will set senses tingling!


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