Since 1934, during the second half of February, Menton has hosted an internationally renowned event: the Lemon Festival.
The lemon festival of Menton
Also called Menton Carnival, the event brings together 250,000 people every year around a theme that is renewed annually. Menton’s corsos, or parades of citrus floats, compete each year with the most beautiful carnivals in the world. An event full of colors and flavors! In the 19th century, Menton was the lemon capital of Europe: the quality of its golden fruit was such that the city was already nicknamed the “Lemon Rock”. It will be necessary to wait until 1929 for the lemon to join the carnival. That year, a hotelier organized an exhibition of citrus fruits and flowers in the gardens of the Hotel Riviera. The success is such that the party will take to the streets the following year: carts planted with citrus fruits will parade along with charming Mentonnaises. The local carnival color finally imposed itself.
A six days’ festival
In 1934, the municipality gave it the name Fête du Citron®, which we still know today. In 1936, the celebration, which now lasts six days, takes over the Biovès gardens for a first exhibition of citrus fruits and flowers. François Ferrié was then responsible for designing the designs of the tanks in lemons and oranges and the patterns in the gardens, essentially flat patterns. After the war, which will mark a break in the organization, the patterns take on height and are erected in volume. In 1955, the parade became corso and henceforth adopted an annual theme.
The internationalization of the event
The 1970s marked the beginning of the internationalization of the event. In 1984, the first edition of the Orchid Show was held, a show that still accompanies the Lemon Festival® today. Since 1936, every day, for the duration of the festival, the Boviès gardens have hosted the exhibition of citrus patterns. From year to year, the exhibition aims to be more creative and more surprising. At nightfall, a change of atmosphere in the citrus decorations, it’s time for mystery and daydreaming : the gardens become Gardens of Lights. On the Promenade du Soleil, the corsos du fruit d’or make Sundays vibrate to the rhythm of brass bands and folk groups that criss-cross between the citrus floats of the parade.