Quebec Winter Carnival
Activities and attractions
The most famous attractions of this winter festival are the night-time and daytime parades led by mascot Bonhomme Carnaval. The parades wind through the upper city, decorated for the occasion with lights and ice sculptures.
Numerous public and private parties, shows and balls are held across the city, some of them outside in the bitter cold, testimony to the Québécois' fabled joie-de-vivre.
Other major events include:
- A masquerade ball with up to 400 participants at the grand ballroom of the Château Frontenac.
- The opening and closing ceremonies taking place at the Ice Palace before thousands of participants, Bonhomme and the mayor of Quebec.
- Outdoor sport events (snowboarding, ice canoe, snowshoes, hockey, dog-sledding, etc., some of them part of World Championship tournaments) inside and outside the city.
- Free outdoor public banquets (brunch, breakfast, etc.).
- The Canadian, Québécois, International and Student artist snow sculpture contests on the Plains of Abraham, the main setting of the carnival. The Plains are a public city park and stay open for leisure activities, including snowshoeing and cross-country skiing trails, during carnival time. Part of the Plains around the Citadel is transformed into an outdoor winter amusement park with various family-themed activities, including the display of the three main snow-sculpting contests (Canada's provinces, Quebec's regions, International) and the traditional bikini snow bath event (bain de neige).
Outdoor dance parties are held at the Ice Palaces.
- Kiosks and other outlets in the city sell the Bonhomme effigy tag that grants admission into most of the events, although some are free outside the main site.
- Most commercial main streets are decorated and some bars and restaurants set up a winter patio in front of their establishments.
- Bonhomme – short for bonhomme de neige ("snowman") is the official ambassador of the festivities, the castle lord of the Ice Palace. Bonhomme is a large snowman sporting a red cap, black buttons and a ceinture fléchée.
- It's traditional to drink Caribou, a hot alcoholic beverage, to keep warm.
- The public auction is a fundraising event in aid of the carnival. This auction features many goods and services donated for silent auction and live auction.
About feasts and restaurants:
- The Business Leaders' Luncheon, organized by the Québec City Chamber of Commerce.
- The Calgary Stampede Flap Jack Breakfast. In 2008, carnival-goers were served by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
- The 'Restaurant Partners' Campaign is a 179-day promotion during which Québec City restaurants offer customers a special menu for a fixed price throughout the carnival (including appetizer, soup, or salad, a main course, and a dessert).
About races and tournaments:
- A sleigh race in which drivers and their horses take part in a single- and double-harness race on the Plains of Abraham.
- An Ice canoe race on the St. Lawrence river.
- The Québec International Pee-Wee Hockey Tournament (not officially part of the carnival program since 1977).
- The Snowboard World Cup in Quebec City (not part of the carnival official program).
Also not part of the official program but worth a visit or a stay, the Quebec City Ice Hotel (Quebec) is open every year from early January to late March with its bar, nightclub, exhibition galleries and cere.
- Official website
- Quebec Winter Carnaval virtual tour in panoramic photography