The 61st annual Quebec Winter Carnival – also known as the Carnaval de Québec – will be held from January 30 to February 15, 2015. The Quebec carnival is the largest winter carnival in the world, and third on the list of all top carnivals behind Rio and New Orleans.
Experience the joys of winter at your choice of memorable and unique events taking place on the historic Plains of Abraham and adjacent Old Quebec City.
You can visit the magnificent ice palace and have your photograph taken with the carnival’s mascot, Bonhomme Carnaval, who personifies the joie de vivre of the winter celebration.
Observe and admire as sculptors from around the world take on the challenge of creating works of art from huge blocks of snow. Applaud the magic night parades, filled with creative and colorful floats, dance troops, marching bands and more. After the parade, enjoy Quebec City’s night life under the stars, with outdoor concerts and happy hour at dozens of sidewalk cafés and restaurants.
Family activities include horse-drawn sleigh rides, dogsled rides, ice canoeing, and snow
slides. One of the most popular events – at least for the spectators – is the snow bath which takes place on the final weekend of the carnival. If you are looking for an extreme experience, you can trade your parka for a swimsuit and participate in this once-in-a-lifetime event yourself. Should you be brave-hearted, you will need to register at the end of December on the carnival’s official website: www.carnaval.qc.ca. (You can buy tickets for other activities there as well.)
Accommodations are available for all tastes and budgets, ranging from quaint bed-and-breakfasts (often called auberges or gîtes in Quebec) to the elegant Hilton Quebec and Chateau Laurier hotels. The historic Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac blends the charm of its enchanting past (the hotel first opened in 1893) with modern luxuries including fine dining, a wine-and-cheese bar, and an exercise room. The Fairmont Chateau Frontenac will be hosting a fancy dress/black tie gala in its ballroom the evening of Feb. 13, 2015, in honor of the queen of the carnival.
Unfortunately, we must issue a word of warning here: Fancy dress gala aside, most of the Quebec Winter Carnival’s events are held outdoors. This means you must be prepared for Quebec City’s winter weather, which is decidedly cold and frosty. Temperatures can easily drop from 21° F. on a sunny day to -4° F. or less at night. Snowfalls are frequent and even though the weather is an important part of the carnival – you obviously can’t make snow sculptures in above-freezing temperatures – you will want to be prepared. Parkas, snow pants and warm boots are de rigueur (a requirement.) Since cold weather tends to drain the batteries of electronics, you will need to protect your devices with quality cases or bags. Personally, I like ecbc’s Pegasus Convertible Rolling Backpack, which comes with a portable power pack to recharge batteries on the go. What better way to avoid having a dead camera or cell phone ruin your enjoyment of the Quebec Winter Carnival?