Christmas 2017 : Festive events and activities on the French Riviera

The Zone B school holidays over the Christmas period run from 22 December and finish 7 January so it’s a good time to use the fortnight’s break to partake in some festive activities.

As well as the usual Christmas markets that pop up each year in every town, there are themed activities and shows with plenty of options to choose from that will suit all ages.

Here are some ideas for things to do during the Christmas period on the French Riviera:


From 15 December, the Antibes Christmas markets will be open with small animations and stands at Place de Gaulle and Place Nationale with a larger market area at Esplanade du Pré des Pêcheurs opposite Port Vauban.

The ice skating rink is back!  Very popular, it’s located in the Christmas market area opposite Port Vauban, opening hours are from 10.30am to 8pm daily (until 10pm on Saturdays).  From 18-22 December, it is reserved for school groups during the day so the rink is open to the public from 5pm to 8pm.

The Antibes ice skating rink is free entry for 2 to 10 years; €3 for adults or kids older than 10 years.  You must take your own gloves as they don’t supply or rent gloves.  Skate hire included on entrance and there are a few skating support aids for young skaters/novices.

(image: Jacques Bayle)


Cannes Christmas festivities will run the entire school holidays.   The traditional Christmas market is based at the Allées de Liberté opposite Vieux Port and open daily.   Santa’s House will be located in a chalet here where kids can meet him from 2pm to 6pm on 16, 17, 20, 23 and 24 December.

This area also hosts kids craft workshops in a chalet there – until 20 December, the workshops are open weekends and Wednesdays from 2pm to 6pm.  From 22 December, kids workshops are on every day during school holidays from 2pm to 6pm.  The types of things that kids get to make are Christmas lanterns, key rings, mini chocolates.

christmas market cannes

Marché de Noël in Cannes (image: ©Mairie de Cannes)

For theme park rides, a big area is set up right beside the port with arcade games, dodgems, bouncy castles etc and open daily from 2pm to 10pm. There is a cost for each ride, generally around €2,50 to €3 for a single ticket or the cost reduces if you buy a few tickets.

On 24 December, Santa and his sleigh will parade down rue d’Antibes at 3pm.

The Cannes ice skating rink is open daily from 1pm to 8pm (open until 10pm on Fridays and Saturdays).  Note:  From 10am to 1pm daily, the ice skating rink is exclusively just for kids aged 4-10 years, free entry but €3 for accompanying adults.  After 1pm, the rink is open to everyone for 1-hour sessions and a cost of €3 per person including skate hire.

There will be a number of shows held at the Cannes ice skating rink (therefore the rink will close to the public), the show dates are:

  • Friday 15 December :  Live music on ice with Blue Ice Cocktail
  • Saturday 16 December : Generation Top 50 with DJ Max and Charly la Voute
  • Friday 22 December :  ‘Frozen’ with Elsa, Anna and Olaf
  • Saturday 23 December : Christmas Party with Santa and his elves
  • Friday 29 December : Crazy skating party with DJ Mozart, fancy dress compulsory
  • Saturday 30 December : Disco party
  • Friday 5 January : Snow storm party with mascots
  • Saturday 6 January :  ‘Break the Ice’ demonstration of freestyle skating
patinoire cannes

Cannes ice skating rink with host a number of shows over Christmas (image: Press Agence)

There will be fireworks on New Years Eve from 11pm in the bay of Cannes.


On Saturday 23 December in partnership with the Belles Rives Ski Nautique Club, Père Noel arrives by water ski at 10.30am.  He lands on the beach by La Jetee / Reve Plage and hands out a chocolate/bon bon to each child.

pere noel ski nautique juan les pins

Père Noel arrives by water ski each year in Juan les Pins (image: Centre-Ville en Mvmnt)

From 24 December to 30 December, there will be free pony rides and a mini farm set up at Pinede Gould with rabbits, sheep, goats etc.  It is open from 10.30am to midday and 2.30pm to 5.30pm.

On Saturday 30 December, floating lanterns will be released from Ponton Hollywood at 5.30pm.  (Ponton Hollywood is the concrete jetty by Café plage).

On New Years Day, the public fireworks display starts at 6.30pm in the bay of Juan les Pins.


On 17 December at Parc Carol du Romanie from 10am to 5pm, a Christmas day with Père Noel, candy floss machine, Christmas stands and a show at 3pm

All through December until 1st January 2018, Nice will celebrate Christmas with the theme ‘Dans l’Espace’.

The main Christmas festivities are centred around Jardin Albert 1er, place Massena and Promenade du Peillon and open daily from 11am to 8pm (9pm on Fridays and Saturdays).  Here you’ll find the Christmas chalets, the ferris wheel (open 11am-11pm), carousels (paying) and pony rides.   The Apollo fountain will be illuminated, there will be 6 illuminated rockets and Christmas trees decorated in keeping with the space theme.  A giant Christmas tree 20-metres high will be placed at Promenade du Peillon.

marche de noel nice

Christmas in Nice is centred around place Massena, Jardin Albert 1er and Promenade du Peillon (image:

The ice skating rink has moved this year from below the ferris wheel to the Fontaine des 3 Grâces.  Ice skating is €5 including skate hire and sessions go for one hour at the following times 11am, 12.30pm, 2pm, 3.30pm, 5pm and 6.30pm.

Santa’s House is located at Theatre de Verdure and open daily during school holidays from 2pm to 7.30pm until Christmas Day.

chrismtas in nice

Marche de Noel in Nice (image: Nice Matin)


Santa’s House will be located at avenue Charles Dahon where kids can get a souvenir photo from 2pm to 6pm on 16, 17, 20 and 24 December.

22 December – There will be a Christmas parade from 5pm on avenue Charles Dahon.  Espace Botta will have a mini farm for kids to see animals.

29 December – At the Salle des Fêtes there will be a marionnette show ‘Pierre et le loup’ at 4pm.  Entry is just €1. Limited places, book via the Office de Tourisme, Phone 04 93 49 28 28,  2 Corniche d’Or, 06590 Théoule sur Mer.

noel theoule sur mer

Pierre et la Loup marionnette show in Théoule sur Mer over the festive period

On until 7 January, every day during school holidays a santon fair at the Espace culturel will showcase crèche decorations, painted figurines and miniature Provençal houses.

This is not an exhaustive list for activities over the Christmas school holidays, just simply some inspiration to enjoy some of the French Riviera’s programme over the holiday period.  Access Riviera wants to wish everyone a safe and enjoyable festive season!

Joyeux Noël !