Occupying an almost perfect location on the French Riviera, the city of Nice combines French sophistication with Mediterranean charm to make a destination like no other. One of the major cities of Provence, Nice is a cultural capital of the region and, along with the neighboring sovereign country of Monaco, a place where the international jet set go to let their hair down and enjoy incredible weather, great food, fascinating culture, and everything else you need for an amazing vacation.
Thanks in part to its exceptional weather, Nice also hosts several entertaining music festivals throughout the year. Whether you're looking to enjoy prestigious jazz festivals, free concerts, or the latest in electronic music, you won't have to search hard to discover incredible performances by famous artists and local musicians in this famous city. Drop off your bags at a luggage storage in Nice, and you'll be ready to dive into what the city has to offer.
Many of the best festivals in Nice are held in neighboring municipalities along the Côte d'Azur, so you should familiarize yourself with our guide to getting around Nice. That way, you'll be ready to enjoy the best summer music festivals in the entire region.
The Best Music Festivals in Nice in 2022
Festival Printemps des Arts de Monte-Carlo
Nice is known for its carnival, a lively street festival that celebrates the start of Lent and, in this southern city, heralds the arrival of the summer season. But the first festival of note on the Nice calendar isn't in Nice at all but in Monaco, just a short train ride away.
The Festival Printemps des Arts de Monte-Carlo has been running since 1985 and takes place in various venues around the old town of Monaco, including the Yacht Club and the Opera Garnier. Held this year from March 10 to April 3, the festival combines classical and contemporary music with dance, theater performances, and just about every other form of performing art for a unique encounter with what's new and exciting in the artistic world. For two weeks, the city hosts over 50 concerts, operas, and ballets performed by some of the world’s most prestigious orchestras, ensembles, and dancers. It's a fantastic start to the festival season on the French Riviera, and as the first event of the season, the Festival Printemps provides a great introduction to what's to come.
Jazz à Juan
A short train ride from Nice itself, the coastal town of Juan les Pins is famous as a holiday destination for the international elite. It's also famous for its highly regarded international jazz festival, Jazz à Juan. Running since 1960, this is one of Europe's oldest jazz festivals and one of the most prestigious jazz festivals in France.
This year's festival will be headlined by Diana Krall, Herbie Hancock, Van Morrison, John Legend, and Gilberto Gil. However, the organizers of this festival pride themselves on a varied program, so you can expect to also encounter some up-and-coming talent and some artists you might never have expected to come across at a jazz festival.
Taking place from July 6 to July 19, the festival also offers workshops and guided tours so you can learn more about the music and the behind-the-scenes efforts to go into staging such a major festival. Tickets are sold to each event separately, so you can pick and choose what you most want to see according to what works best for you.
Nice Jazz Festival
Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, the Herbie Hancock Quintet, Pharaoh Sanders, Django Reinhart, and Miles Davis. All these jazz greats and more occupy a place on the list of former performers at the Nice Jazz Festival. Billing itself as the first major jazz festival in the world, the Nice Jazz Festival has been running since 1948 and remains a major event on the international jazz music calendar.
However, you'll find more here to enjoy than just jazz. These days, the Nice Jazz Festival finds room on its stage for a variety of artists from the worlds of classical, hip hop, and electronic music as well as huge names in the jazz world. For instance, this year's festival features Neneh Cherry, Nile Rodgers, the Black Eyed Peas, and Jacob Banks. With an open-air venue on Place Masséna in the heart of Old Nice as well as a more intimate environment at the Theatre Verdure, Nice Jazz Festival is an event that seems to go from strength to strength every year and has something to appeal to just about everyone, no matter what their musical taste may be. Usually one of the biggest summer music festivals on the French Riviera, this is definitely not one to miss.
Fête de la Musique
This worldwide music festival, also known as World Music Day, began in Paris but has spread across France and around the world. For one single day, June 21st, cities across France celebrate music with live performances by hundreds of different artists in every kind of venue imaginable. Held on the shortest night of the year, the Fête de la Musique is a fantastic way to celebrate the summer season and enjoy artists you might never have heard of otherwise. Best of all, all events held as part of World Music Day are free for anyone to attend.
Large events take place on the Place Masséna, but you'll find smaller-scale concerts taking place in bars, restaurants, churches, theaters, and even the streets of the city. If you love live music of any kind, you'll have an absolute blast during the Fête de la Musique.
Les Plages Electroniques
Just a short train ride from Nice, the coastal city of Cannes is perhaps best known for its legendary film Festival. However, this is a city that takes the performing arts seriously, and so it's also home to a major festival of electronic music that dance lovers shouldn't miss. Held on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, this festival is a gigantic three-day beach party attended by some of the biggest names in modern dance music.
This year, the festival will be held from August 5 to August 7. Tickets start at €120 for a three-day festival pass, or you can buy single-day tickets beginning at €50. Confirmed headliners include David Guetta, Paul Kalkbrenner, and Charlotte DeWitt. You also have the chance to see up-and-coming artists on smaller festival stages, and may well discover some new favorites. Either way, you'll be guaranteed a fantastic time at this lively festival, so get your tickets early to make sure you don't miss out.
Held this year from the 8th to the 11th of September, Nice's Crossover Festival represents one of the biggest electronic music events in the region. Held at the prestigious Théâtre de Verdure, which hosts many of the biggest shows held in Nice, this music festival is the place to dance the night away to an eclectic mix of live music from around the world.
This year, the lineup includes Boris Brejcha, Laylow, and Chilla, among others. For four days, the beachfront Promenade des Anglais will be rocking to the sound of DJs performing and whipping up the crowd at this legendary rave. A four-day pass costs only €80, which is very reasonable for all the entertainment you'll be getting, especially in a city not usually known for its great bargains.
In recent years, the festival has featured an increasing number of "crossover" events, which mix different genres and styles to create unique experiences. These have included everything from a performance of Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring with accompanying breakdancing to a jazz concert in a Monaco palace. But whatever you get to see, you're bound to enjoy the music and the setting of this always popular Festival.
Menton Music Festival
Just outside Nice lies the town of Menton, which plays host to its own annual music festival in early August. The Menton Music Festival features classical concerts held in historic churches and palaces around the town. With its beautiful architecture and Mediterranean setting, Menton is the perfect place to enjoy some classical music surrounded by stunning scenery. In fact, despite the small size of the town, this venerable festival has grown to become one of the most prestigious in all of Europe. With the incredible venues the city offers and outdoor performances taking place under starry skies, it's not hard to see why some of the biggest names in classical music are so eager to play here.
This year's festival will be held from July 29 to August 13. Confirmed performers include Nobuyuki Tsujii, Beatrice Berrut, and Natalie Dessay. You'll be able to enjoy solo performances and full orchestral works at this eclectic Festival, and the scenic beauty of the town makes sure it will be a memorable experience for any lover of classical music.
Held in November every year, Nice's MANCA Festival is a celebration of contemporary classical and other forms of music that focuses on cross-pollination between art forms. You'll find the music you just won't find anywhere else, like full-scale operas combined with cutting-edge electronic music or dance performances scored by notable classical musicians from around the world. Rather than chasing musical trends, this eclectic festival focuses on exploring links between all forms of music and performing arts to create something truly unique.
CIRM, the organization behind the MANCA Festival, presents concerts, workshops, lectures, and exhibitions in Nice throughout the year. But MANCA is when they curate the most ambitious program of artistic collaboration. This unique festival has developed a strong following among music lovers. And while you may not recognize any big names on the program, you are virtually guaranteed a journey through music that you won't get anywhere else.
Planning to stay a few more days in Nice?
There are so many reasons to plan a visit to Nice. Reliably warm and sunny weather plus the incredibly clear water of the French Riviera make the city a summer destination that compares favorably with any other around the world. Plus, the incredible food and rich history and culture represented in amazing museums make this a fascinating city to explore. Nice is also a wonderful place to do some shopping, if you have the budget, that is. And beyond Nice itself, neighboring towns like Antibes, Juan les Pins, and Cannes - to say nothing of the principality of Monaco - make this region a deeply diverse and exciting place to visit. With so much to do in the area, consult our guide for 3 days in Nice to alleviate the stress of planning your own itinerary.
But in case you needed more reasons to visit this jewel of Provence, the music festivals held in and around the city make it an even more desirable location to see for yourself. No matter what kind of music you prefer, chances are good you'll find it being played somewhere during the festival season in Nice. So pack your sunscreen, plenty of water, and some comfortable dancing shoes, and get ready for an unforgettable summer season in Nice. With so much live music to explore, you may find you never want to leave this incredible city.