Every year, starting at the end of January or beginning of February, Québec City turns into a winter wonderland. For 3 weeks, the city hosts the world’s largest winter carnival – Québec Winter Carnaval. This celebration started as a way for the city’s population to enjoy the cold winter months. It has since grown into a huge event that celebrates winter while highlighting the historic and cultural character of the city. Visitors from all over the world flock to Québec City to take part in various winter activities suitable for the whole family. Here are 6 must-see and do activities at Québec Winter Carnaval.
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1. Visit Bonhomme’s Winterland
Winter Carnaval is centred at Bonhomme’s Winterland. Located on the historic Plains of Abraham, this large area has something for the whole family. You can zip down an ice slide on a toboggan, lead your own dogsled team, watch snow masters compete in the annual snow sculpture competition, play a human-sized version of foosball, sample some authentic maple taffy poured directly onto a bed of snow, and ride the Ferris wheel to get an aerial view of the grounds.
2. Meet Bonhomme, the King of Quebec Winter Carnival
If there’s only one thing you do at Québec Winter Carnaval, it’s meeting Bonhomme, a living replica of the snowman and symbol of the festival. He’s the ‘King of Winter’, a rock star, and beloved by all Québecers. Cars will stop on the street to catch a glimpse, children scream with excitement when they see him, and people jostle to get a picture with him. When you meet him, you’ll fall instantly in love and you won’t be able to resist giving him a big hug. Just don’t call him a mascot. He’s an ambassador, travelling all over the world to promote Québec Winter Carnaval. He not only acts but speaks for the carnival.
3. Go to Bonhomme’s Ice Palace
If Bonhomme is the King of Winter, it seems only fitting that he should have a palace, right? But any old palace just won’t do. Bonhomme has his very own palace made entirely out of ice! If you’re hoping to meet the man himself, this is the best place to start. Every year his palace takes on a new shape and theme and comes with lounge areas and a pool table made completely out of ice. At night, Bonhomme’s ice palace transforms into an outdoor dance party, a perfect way to keep warm once the sun goes down.
4. Enjoy a Glass of Caribou
Speaking of staying warm, if you’re starting to feel cold, pick up a glass of caribou. It originates from the province when hunters and loggers used to mix a bit of caribou blood with whiskey to stay warm while working outdoors. Today, the recipe closely resembles mulled wine but includes maple syrup and whisky for an added punch. You can enjoy it hot or cold, the latter which is served in a glass made entirely out of ice.
5. Watch the Ice Canoe Races
If you thought canoeing was only a leisurely activity enjoyed in the summer, then wait till you see how Québec City includes it during the winter months. During Québec Winter Carnaval, teams from all over the world will compete in the finals of ice canoe races. Teams of 5 athletes compete to push their canoes across the frozen St. Lawrence River. It’s demanding and rigorous, and if you feel you’ve got what it takes, you can even try it out for yourself.
6. Check out the Night Parades
The celebrations continue well into the evening with night parades happening on the 2nd and 3rd weekends of Québec Winter Carnaval. For about an hour, dancers, marching bands, illuminated floats, and musical performers make their way in front of thousands of people cramming the streets. And if you haven’t yet set eyes on Bonhomme, you’re guaranteed to see him here!
Don't miss this year's winter fun! Book your flights to Quebec City online or talk to a Flight Centre travel agent today.