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What's on in Antibes Christmas & New Year 2018

Our guide to this festive season in & around Antibes

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| Jo Morgan, Antibes Reporter | Published

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What's on in Antibes Christmas & New Year 2018

Antibes is an absolutely gorgeous little town at Christmas time, with its cobbled streets strung with blue and white lights, its spinning Ferris wheel and quaint Christmas villages lighting up the port and its jumble of medieval buildings shining below a stunning backdrop of snow-capped Alps. In this beautiful setting, Antibes offers a wonderful lineup of festive Christmas activities for visitors and locals alike.

There are plenty of Christmas-themed events planned for December, including a Santa fun run on December 21st, lots of activities for children and English and French carol and Christmas services. When it comes to New Year’s Eve Antibes is really rather quiet. There are pockets of activity and a few restaurants offering set menus and events, but those looking for a wildly festive atmosphere of crowds and fireworks should look to Cannes or Nice. However, there are some activities scheduled on New Year’s Day in the area, with a communal beach swim at the Plage de la Salis, a New Year’s Day concert and a fireworks display in the adjoining town of Juan les Pins.

Here’s our summary of the most exciting events to attend during your Antibes Christmas and New Year getaway.

Christmas Villages

When it comes to Christmas villages, the town of Antibes is a bit of a show-off, so you can wander between three festive hubs set up in different parts of Old Antibes, each one with a different appeal.

The Esplanade Pré des Pêcheurs, the large open square in front of the ramparts, is transformed into a gloriously pretty Christmas village with gourmet chalets selling handicrafts, Provencal gifts and delicious festive treats such as mulled wine, roast chestnuts, and gooey Nutella crepes. There’s also a 27m Ferris wheel by the superyacht port offering spectacular views of the Mediterranean coastline with its carriages revolving slowly above the twinkling lights of the Christmas village, a 450m2 ice skating rink (gloves compulsory) and a carousel for the little ones. Santa will get his mail at the North Pole thanks to Santa’s mailbox. Live music and dance performances will take place on a stage.

The second Christmas village is set up in right in the heart of old town Antibes, on the Place Nationale. It offers children’s rides, music, and gourmet stalls filling the square, as well as plenty of workshops for kids to take part in. Finally, the Christmas village on Place de Gaulle is always a big hit with the younger kids, with a huge interactive display with automated characters dancing about. Children get to enter the giant scene and participate, while adults can watch with a mulled wine bought from one of the village stalls.

Christmas Eve & Christmas Day

For those wishing to attend a local hymn and carol service on Christmas Eve, there are Catholic services at several churches and three masses at the Antibes Cathedral, one of them, at 20:30, in English. Those looking for an English speaking COE service are welcome at the Holy Trinity Church in nearby Cannes. Christmas Day is very quiet on the streets of Antibes, although you’ll spy many people out for a walk down by the beach in the late afternoon if the weather’s nice. The Christmas villages are open from 14:00, offering rides, market stalls and children’s workshops.

New Year's Eve

Well, there’s no point in saying it any other way: Antibes on New Year’s Eve is almost a ghost town. The majority of restaurants and bars are closed and the streets are empty and quiet, except for the sound of French locals having their own private parties (so that’s where they go). There’s often a little cluster of activity down near the port where you’ll generally find a happy little group of yacht crew and tourists down this way. If you’re looking for a special meal in Antibes for New Year’s Eve, the Michelin-starred restaurant Le Figuier de Saint-Esprit puts on a ‘Saint Sylvestre’ special menu for the occasion, as does Les Vieux Murs on the ramparts. 

If you’re hoping for a really festive atmosphere on NYE, I’d recommend heading a bit further afield to Cannes or Nice for the fireworks displays and party vibe. But be aware that transport back to Antibes after midnight from either of these places might pose some problems, as taxis are both as rare and quite expensive in this part of the world.

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New Year's Day

The year starts in Antibes with a beach swim. Yes, it’s the depths of winter in the icy Mediterranean but a group of brave fools welcomes you to join them for their New Year’s Day swim at Salis Beach, the ‘Bain du Jour de l'An', with the fun beginning at 11:00. Afterwards, the Regional Orchestra of Cannes-Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur will celebrate their New Year Concert. Works by Johann Strauss, Jacques Offenbach, Franz Lehar and Leroy Anderson are included in the programme. There will be two showings at 11:00 and 16:00 at the Palais des Congres in Juan les Pins.

The French tradition is to celebrate New Year’s Day, rather than the Eve, with a seafood feast with family and friends. You’ll find some restaurants putting on set menus for this occasion but be sure to book ahead as many restaurants are closed. Finally, at 18:30, there’s a fireworks display over the beach in Juan les Pins, a lovely event to go to as many people gather on the seafront to watch. 

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More inspiration...

This is just a small selection of the events taking place in Antibes and Juan les Pins during Christmas and New Year. Check out our event listing for the full programme and take a look at our Events Calendar to see what's happening in the surrounding villages.

Events Calendar for Antibes