Carnaval De Quebec: Experience Quebec's Winter Carnival

Heading to Quebec in late January, or mid-February? Check out Carnaval De Quebec – the Winter Carnival.

Hotel de Glace, Quebec Photo © Pamela MacNaughtan

Location

Old Town, Québec City, Canada. Events centre on Parc de l’Esplanade.

Dates

Late January to mid-February (varies each year)

Description

Billing itself as the world’s largest winter carnival, the 17-day Carnaval de Québec was first created in 1894 as a way to beat the winter chills, though it only took on its current form in the 1950s.

You’ll find night parades, ice slides, dog-sled races through the streets of the city, snow rafting, an outdoor cinema (yes, Ice Age has been screened here), an international snow-sculpture competition and outdoor dance parties in the snow.

For the bravest (and there were less than 60 of them in 2007) there’s the snow bath, requiring three dips into the snow in your swimsuit. The carnival’s showcase event is the canoe race, in which competitors must paddle 3.2km across the St Lawrence River through a mass of ice, at times portaging their boats across frozen sections of river.

A ferris wheel lit up at night in Old Montreal, Quebec
A ferris wheel lit up at night in Old Montreal, Quebec. Photo credit: Getty Images/buzbuzzer

Level of Participation

4 – warm up the winter with a host of participatory activities.

Essentials

Bring lots of warm clothes (the average February maximum in Québec City is -10˚C) and organise your trip early, as accommodation in the city fills up fast during the carnival.

Other Local Attractions

Wander the old walled city jutting into the St Lawrence River – just about every building inside has some historical or architectural interest. Take a stroll along the cliffside Terrasse Dufferin for dramatic views over the river.

More Info: Carnaval de Québec 

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