Winter tends to be a time when people like to stay indoors, watch movies, and perhaps warm up by the fireplace, however, this couldn’t be any further from the truth in Quebec City! This is one place where people embrace winter to the fullest especially during Carnaval de Quebec. I had the pleasure to spend a weekend here while the festivities were in full swing and here’s a taste of what that was like.
Enjoy the Carnaval winter activities
To join in the winter fun, make your way over to the Plains of Abraham which transform into a winter wonderland. Here you’ll be able to enjoy all kinds of winter activities like dog sledding, ice fishing, horse drawn sleigh rides, tubing, and snowboarding. There is even a spa area with hot tubs and a sauna should you want to warm up. The grounds are massive and there is a lot of fun to be had; the key to enjoying the day is bundling up and stuffing a few hot packs in your mittens! It’s also worth booking a hotel that’s within walking distance so that you have easy access to all the activities.
Visit the Hôtel de Glace
Just a short 15 minute drive north of the city, you’ll find the famed ice hotel. Whether you’re looking to spend the night in this one of a kind establishment, or you just want to tour by day, this is one spot you shouldn’t miss. The ice hotel is built from scratch every single winter and it truly is a site to behold. Enjoy a drink at their ice bar, walk down the aisle at the wedding chapel, and get a sneak peek at the rooms. If you want to spend the night, you’ll need to book well in advance because in spite of the cold, rooms sell out fast!
Meet the jolly Bonhomme
Bonhomme is the official mascot of Quebec’s winter carnival, and his Ice Palace is open to visitors. Drop by for a hug from this plump and jolly snowman who has come to embody the joyous spirit of the winter festivities. You know he is happy when he does his little kick.
Watch the ice canoe races
There are few sports as bold and daring as ice canoeing. Imagine the Saint Lawrence River this time of year; parts of it are frozen solid, there are some stretches of open water, but for the most part it’s jagged sheets of ice that float, turn, and bob with the current. Now picture a group of competitors charging into the water with their canoes in tow. If that doesn’t terrify you, you can try it for yourself with Quebec Ice Canoeing. This is an event unlike any other!
Go on a walking tour of the Old City
Quebec City’s newest slogan is “So Europe. So Close.” and it’s easy to see why; set foot in the Old Town and you’ll feel like you’ve been transported back to France. Visit the Fairmont Le Château Frontenac, wander along the Dufferin Terrace, and enjoy the views over the Saint Lawrence River. Lastly, make your way down the Breakneck Stairs and into Petit Champlain, where you can browse through shops or grab a bite at one of the many restaurants.
And that is just a taste of all the fun that is to be had. Carnaval de Quebec runs for 16 days and it has an action-packed program that includes plenty of concerts, parades, and dance parties – a great way to embrace winter!
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Have you been to Carnaval de Quebec?