When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Or maybe host the world’s largest lemon festival!
This February, the 85th Fete du Citron gets underway in Menton on the French Riviera, between Monaco and the Italian border. The town is famous for its lemons and since 1935 has been wowing visitors with stunning tableaux in the town’s municipal gardens and an amazing parade of floats covered in lemons and oranges.Each year the festival takes a theme. In 2017 the theme was Broadway musicals; this year it’s Bollywood. Previous themes have included China, India, Jules Verne and ancient civilisations and have featured wonderful displays of pagodas, temples, castles, windmills, the Sphinx, Big Ben and the Eiffel Tower, plus a whole host of animals, from snails to dragons, all created in citrus fruit.
The main event of the festival is the Golden Fruit Parade which takes place on three consecutive Sundays. It sees a cavalcade of massive fruit-covered floats pass along the seafront accompanied by brass bands, stilt walkers, dancers and performers. There are night time parades too, and fireworks, and in the town’s Casino Gardens the spectacular displays are illuminated in the ‘Garden of Lights’.
Hundreds of people are involved in the construction of the displays and floats and the festival uses up to 145 tonnes of oranges and lemons. Half a million elastic bands are used to attach the fruit to wire mesh around the metal frames of the constructions and 240,000 visitors come from far and wide to enjoy the colourful show.