The Best Free New Year’s Events
The French Riviera/Cote d’Azur is the place to be for New Year’s Eve. With celebrations all along the coast, you can indulge in numerous choices of parties, feasts, drinks, dancing, and creative firework displays.
In many households, New Year’s eve celebrations begin with a nationwide screening of “les vœux présidentiels”. At 8pm on the 31st the French President reflects on the year gone by, and lays out his vision for the one to come. The speech is broadcast live from the Élysée Palace. Then it’s time to se metre sur son 31 (‘dress up like it’s New Year’s eve’) and head out for dinner and dancing!
New Year’s eve is otherwise known as La Sainte-Sylvestre in France, because it’s Saint Sylvestre’s feast day. Perhaps that explains the the country’s focus on fine food and drink during New Year festivities. Many restaurants across the region serve lavish multi-course set menus on New Year’s Eve. These are invariably followed by seafood lunches paired with fine champagnes on New Year’s Day.
Everyone loves a New Year fancy dress ball with confetti, streamers and kisses under mistletoe at midnight. Unlike elsewhere in Europe, in France mistletoe is a New Year’s rather than a Christmas tradition. Similarly, locals usually send greetings cards to celebrate New Year rather than Christmas. Pretend you’re a local and send your cartes de voeux du nouvel an on or after 1st January.
Here are the best free events:
Free New Year’s Celebration Events
These events are subject to change or cancellation due to COVID19, so please double-check the latest status with the local tourism office.
At 5pm, you can see the New Year’s Parade, which departs from the Courbet roundabout (old pier) towards the Pinède where activities are planned with the artists of the parade (and distribution of Christmas-themed masks to children) from 4:30pm to 5pm).
At 6:30pm, watch the New Year’s fireworks display in Juan-les-Pins bay (Promenade du Soleil side).
Monaco and Monte-Carlo
A DJ dance party with two DJs and two separate stages will rage from 9pm to 3am. The stages are located in the Christmas Village – one near the roller rink and a smaller one at the foot of the Big Wheel.
The Christmas Village and food stalls will be open until 11pm on New Year’s Eve, while midnight skating at the roller rink will be possible thanks to a 2am curfew.
For New Year’s Eve, the Casino at Cafe de Paris is offering a festive evening complete with adrenaline, jackpots and an electric atmosphere for you to enjoy all night long. Celebrate New Year’s Eve in the heat of the gaming action, with dancers and free champagne at midnight!
The Casino de Monte-Carlo is pulling out all the stops for the year-end holidays, including a spectacular light show, 3D projection mapping on its facade. The theme? Games, of course! See the Casino de Monte-Carlo like never before, with magnificent colors and projections tracing every line and curve of this architectural wonder.
There are numerous options where to celebrate New Year in Nice, France. Still, the main place for the celebration will be Promenade des Anglais , where you can watch the fireworks at midnight on New Year’s Eve. Also, there will be a street party in Place Massena .
During the day, join the locals around long trestle tables set up on the waterfront for their famous ‘Grande Anchoïade’ – anchovy dip served with crusty bread and an aperitif.
A Note About Fireworks
As much as we want everyone to cherish the New Year in the French Riviera, we do not think that the noise from fireworks are a good thing, because fireworks are harmful to human health and very destructive to birds and wildlife. In Italy, they have made their fireworks silent and have set them to classical music, and Monaco sometimes swaps old-school fireworks for lit-up drones. We hope that everywhere else will soon follow suit.
We hope you enjoy the French Riviera New Year’s celebrations!