Nice's annual extravaganza of musical fun, circuses and festivities exploded into life on Saturday (2 February).
S/CU Man talking to person in pig costume
SV Band marches past
GV Tiger float passes crowd (3 shots)
GV Carnival characters along street (2 shots)
GV Float carrying carnival queens
SV Carnival scenes man being thrown into air on blanket
GV Jazz band float
GV Elephant float followed by real elephant (2 shots)
GV Donkey float
GV Crocodile float followed by Rhino float (2 shots)
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: Nice's annual extravaganza of musical fun, circuses and festivities exploded into life on Saturday (2 February). Thousands flocked into the streets to watch the traditional carnival procession.
SYNOPSIS: Gaily-decorated floats and bands along the central avenues of the town, set the mood for five days of celebration. The carnival provides a chance for revelry before the calendar moves onto the solemn religious period of Lent. The carnival king, seated astride a tiger, headed the parade.
Many of the participants were decked out in elaborate costumes. Work on the floats and extravagant fancy-dress often begins at the end of the previous year's carnival, but each time the celebrations have a different central theme. This year the crocodile is the central figure. And of course beautiful girls are a compulsory attraction of any festival.
Preparations for this year's carnival have been surrounded by controversy. A caricature of Iranian religious leaders Ayatollah Khomeini had been constructed to form part of the parade. Iranian students attending Nice University protested against the plan, saying it was an insult to their religion. The French foreign ministry persuaded the carnival organisers to remove the model as an expression of French courtesy in view of the Ayatollah's ill-health.
The uninhibited enjoyment of the carnival characters however gave nothing of previous tensions. Circus animals and clowns are a traditional feature of the festivities. The climax comes on Wednesday (6 February) with the famous "Battle of the Flowers" along the Promenade des Anglais.