If you’re looking for the perfect winter getaway, look no further than Quebec. It’s a city that captures the magic of winter, with a historic old town, tons of snow and plenty of twinkling lights. Every year, the Quebec Winter Carnival takes over the city for two weeks at the Place de l’Assemblée-Nationale — a magical winter wonderland that you need to visit. So bring your warmest socks and get ready to celebrate this Jan. 26 – Feb. 11! We’ve rounded up the best activities, foods, drinks, and events that you simply cannot miss.
The Quebec Winter Carnival has nearly 200 awesome activities to keep you busy. Some of the most popular activities include sporting events such as freezing-cold canoe races and the carnival’s famous sled races, where teams of dogs are harnessed to sleds and race to the finish line along Quebec’s icy roads.
Meanwhile, the star event of the carnival is the International Snow Sculpture Competition that will be back for the 46th consecutive year. Canadian artists battle against international artists from eight other countries to create incredible snow sculptures that will make your jaw drop. Judges will evaluate the sculptures according to their technical and creative merits. The snow sculpture competition will take place from Jan. 30 to Feb. 4 and the finished sculptures will be on display until the end of the carnival.
Other awesome activities include a snow bath, where partygoers frolic in the snow in their swimwear, an ice palace that looks like something out of Disney’s movie Frozen, an ice slide, and fun photo opportunities with the carnival’s mascot ‘Bonhomme’ — a giant snowman with a cheeky grin. The full schedule will be announced on the Quebec Winter Carnival site in January, ahead of the carnival.
Food and Drink
At Quebec’s winter wonderland you can expect to see plenty of stalls selling hot drinks to warm you up, such as boozy hot chocolates (with a shot of rum or brandy) and Caribou, which is made from red wine, brandy, cinnamon, anise and Canada’s most popular condiment – maple syrup. Meanwhile, to keep your tummy full, expect hot pies, roasted chestnuts, deadly grill cheese sandwiches, hot dogs, candy canes and mince pies.
The carnival’s main showstopping events are the night parades that take over Quebec’s snow-covered streets. The parades feature colorful floats and fun characters dancing to music. It’s a truly magical experience for all the family. The carnival parades will be held on Feb. 3 in the streets of the Charlesbourg neighborhood and on Feb. 10 in Upper Town.
Yes, it’s true, there are tons of winter-themed wonderlands and events that take place in most of the countries in the Northern Hemisphere. However, what’s special about the Winter Carnival in Quebec is that you are almost guaranteed to see snow, as the city is known as the world’s capital of snow. In states in the US and countries in Europe, snow can be likely but isn’t guaranteed — so if you’re looking for the perfect winter event, this is the festival for you!
Top Tips: Beat The Cold
It’s absolutely freezing in January and February in Quebec — so you need to come well-prepared. Dress in lots of layers and don’t forget to bring a hat, scarf, and gloves. If you really feel the cold, be sure to bring extras such as hand warmers and feet warmers. There are several ‘warming tents’ located throughout the carnival venue, so be sure to warm-up in the tents every hour or so.
If you’re looking for a place to crash after drinking too much mulled-wine at the carnival, or just want a nice apartment for your family to stay in, we have every type of accommodation option for you in Quebec.