Citron festival models

Gill Harris looks ahead to the fabulous Fête du Citron, now in its 87th year

February may seem like forever away, but you’ll want to book up early if you fancy visiting the world-famous Fête du Citron in the French Riviera town of Menton next month.

Some 240,000 visitors are expected to descend on the town for the 87th year of the festival, which takes place from February 15 to March 3.

This year, the theme is ‘Festivals of the World’, with the magnificent sculptures and parades drawing inspiration from the likes of New Orleans’ Mardi Gras, Mexico’s Day of the Dead, Oktoberfest, St Patrick’s Day and more.

In the Biovès Gardens, you will find awe-inspiring statues made from 15 tonnes of lemons and reaching 10m into the sky. Every year, it takes thousands of hours to create these ephemeral sculptures, with the fruits painstakingly placed in position one at a time. Previous spectacles have included everything from dinosaurs to the Taj Mahal.

By day and night, there are gloriously golden parades and, if that’s not enough to float your boat, don’t forget to check out the crafts fair and the Festival of Orchids, with its unforgettable scents.

The Menton lemon has enjoyed PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) status since 2015 and is one of the pillars of the local economy. Its history dates back to the 15th century and, impressively, by 1495, it was already being exported all over the world.

The eco-minded among us will be pleased to know that this most yellow of festivals is also green: after it’s all over, the metal structures are dismantled and recycled, while the fruits and flowers are sold to the public. In the space of two weeks, the Fête du Citron disappears completely – so don’t miss it!

Packages are available for the various events – book online at here.


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