Every year from late January to mid February, Quebec City comes to life. Winter in this part of Canada is long and cold, very cold. The Winter Carnival is a breath of fresh air in an otherwise very dark and dreary time. Thousands of people flock to the city to take part in all the activities at Quebec’s Winter Carnival.
There are several venues around the city that host activities. Three parades are part of the entertainment. One, which occurs during the day, has inflatable floats. The other two parades occur at night. Check the official website for times and locations of the parades.
Bonhomme, is the mascot of the Winter Carnival. He can be seen walking around at all the different venues at specific times. He will be at the opening ceremonies to kick off the festivities. He is certainly one of the most recognizable figures not only in Quebec but in all of Canada. He resembles a combination of a snowman and the Michelin Man. Look for his iconic red cap and you will know that you are seeing the real thing.
There is so much to do at the Winter Carnival that it is necessary to have some type of a plan. If outdoor sports activities are what you are looking for, there is ice skating, sleigh rides, a toboggan run, dog sled rides, snow rafting and even a zip line. Be sure to dress very warmly because temperatures well below zero are common and expected.
If you are looking for a more Zen experience, there is an outdoor hot tub spa area called the Alpine Village where you can watch the ice and snow while soaking in streaming hot water or take a sauna to ease the aches and pains from all the athletic activities you have participated in.
There are competitions of all kinds from horse races to snow sculpturing. If you have always dreamed of creating an amazing sculpture, this is the time and the place to not only learn how to do it but to try it yourself. The Plains of Abraham will become a huge snow art gallery with competitors creating masterpieces in snow and ice.
There is entertainment at the Hydro Quebec Stage. Many different types of entertainment are planned. There will be fireworks in addition to lots of music.
Some special areas are designated for children with entertainment geared toward them. The Telus Interactive Game Area should be a big attraction for teens and tweens.
In Quebec, food is a large part of the festivities. Special breakfasts are planned and there are other meals to attend. The sugar shack is a favorite and offers all things maple. There is an outdoor barbecue at Place Desjardins as well. Beaver Tails are a sweet that is very popular at the Carnival. Be prepared, things can get very sweet in Quebec City.
For the truly brave, there is even camping offered on the Plains of Abraham. Book early no matter what type of accommodation you prefer. If you can not find a room in Quebec, think about going across the St. Lawrence River to Levis, it is an easy ride back to Quebec City and undoubtedly the rates will be lower. Be sure to try some of the local restaurants. Aux Anciens Canadiens in the Old City is a favorite of this author for true Quebecois cuisine. This is the restaurant to try a traditional meat pie or French Canadian pea soup.
The Winter Carnival in Quebec City is a great destination for the entire family with enough activities to keep even the most adventure loving vacationer satisfied.