Quebec’s Winter Carnival is a tradition that dates back to the early settlers bringing people together in the deep of winter. From those modest beginnings the celebration has grown to an event that draws people from across Canada and around the world.
Bonhomme Carnaval, the large red sash and toque wearing snowman, became the symbol of the festivities in 1955 and is still a mainstay of the parade and festivities. During the day thousands of people mill about Old Quebec City enjoying events like canoe racing, carriage rides, sleigh racing, snow sculpting to name just a few, ducking into crowded bistros and cafes for some warmth, good food and friends. Many events take place on the historic Plains of Abraham.
At night the city is alive with a light parade and dance parties at Bonhomme’s Ice Castle. Everyone dresses warmly but many can be seen with hollow canes or wine skins often filled with the traditional, but awful, fortifying drink called ‘Caribou’.
This is a fantastic trip for kids but great for adults too. There is Dancing Under the Stars and an Ice Bar complete with furniture and glasses made completely with ice. There are lots of great hotels and restaurants but be sure to book early. For the more adventurous, many Quebec families turn their homes into Bed & Breakfasts during Carnival which is a great way to meet locals and find affordable accommodation.
Be sure to bundle up and have a blast!