From January 31 to February 16, the snow-covered streets of Québec will give way to the party and the joy of living. During the traditional city carnival, more and more residents and visitors are celebrating winter and its pleasures, as if to ward off the harsh Canadian climate. Put on gloves and mufflers, and jump into the parade as this year's slogan invites us ...
Melt the ice
During the long winter months, the Quebec thermometer easily reaches - Atlantic have learned to live with the cold. Far from all inevitability, some have made it a force, and while for the Rio carnival the glitter and the sun shine, the provincial capital is celebrated under the sign of snow and ice!
Every year since 1955, the Quebec carnival, a true hymn to winter, offers a clever mix of traditional activities and innovations. It invites spectators to take to the streets to follow a canoe race on the icy waters of the St. Lawrence River, participate in a sled dog race or learn about ice sculpture. During this 49th edition, we can also try the giant trampoline, or the table football on a human scale!
We warm up by following the night parades that imprint the city of lights and colors, or by drinking a good glass of the local magic potion, the caribou: a cocktail of brandy, vodka, sherry and port, that the 'we transport in hollow canes ... Let's not forget the mascot, a friendly snowman decked out in a red cap (the toque) and the sash that the ancients wore to tighten their waist and keep warm . Bonhomme, that's his nickname, is staying for the occasion in a sumptuous illuminated ice castle, built in a few weeks with nearly 6 blocks of ice: to visit on the Place de Assemblée Nationale.
Taste the pleasures of the snow
The festivities are spread over several sites in the city. At the Plains of Abraham Park, near the St. Lawrence River, you will find most of the winter activities to enjoy. And the choice is great! Horse-drawn carriage, dog sled or snowshoe rides, snow rafting, initiation to ice fishing to tease trout (ice fishing), sugar shacks, from which maple syrup flows freely in spring, and where you will be offered to taste the taffy (maple caramel poured over a bed of snow, then wrapped around a stick), etc. A site is specially designed for children with slides and an ice labyrinth ...
Elsewhere, the show is in full swing. On the Place d'Youville, near the Saint-Jean gate, we will take a trip back in time by visiting the 31th century market reconstituted for the occasion, with many extras in costume, stalls of chestnuts or mulled wine, and stories of the time. This is where the opening ceremony will take place, on the evening of January XNUMX, on an ice rink that local artists with evocative names (Mes Aïeux, Les Respectables) will warm up to music. During the rest of the carnival, it will be the setting for themed dance evenings (French song, folklore, etc.): a good balancing act!
Finally, for the more adventurous, an invigorating traditional activity: the collective snow bath, armed with a swimsuit and your courage ... February 15, on the Plains of Abraham.
Sublimate winter with art
At the Quebec Winter Carnival, celebrating winter also means turning it into a work of art. And since this is a major popular event, we might as well encourage the public to add their touch!
An international exhibition of ice sculpture brings together teams from all over the world; there is also a Canadian component (one team per province or territory of the country) and a Quebec component (one team for each region of the province). The public will be able to admire these ephemeral works for the duration of the carnival, on the Plains of Abraham. On Saturday February 1 and 8 from 13 p.m., we can even learn the basics of the technique with a block of snow, under the advice of a professional; it is on the place of the National Assembly that we will perhaps discover a new talent ...
A Painting Symposium will also bring together Quebec and European artists invited to work on the theme of carnival and winter. The public, involved, will be able to observe them at work and vote for their favorite painter. Place Québec (1, bd René Lévesque Est) on the 050th floor, from February 5 to 12.
There is no doubt that with the variety of programming, everyone will find their happiness and quickly forget the cold that is raging in Quebec at the moment. The fallout is also beneficial for the city, the self-proclaimed capital of snow: thanks to what is the largest winter carnival in the world, visitors discover a new aspect of a region usually prized during sunny days. Quebec, we think less often, is a beautiful destination for winter ...
Access to activities
For most of the entertainment, all you need to do is get the Carnival Effigy (CA $ 5, on sale in the streets). It gives access to many free activities, and a lottery coupon is offered with it.
Warning ! Clever little people have fun reselling the Effigies without the coupon: make sure the bag has not been opened ...
For key attractions, such as ice fishing or sleigh rides, low price to be paid on site.
Where to sleep ?
At carnival time, it's a bit difficult to find accommodation: arrive early (before 10 a.m.).
Auberge de la Paix: 31, rue Couillard. Phone. : (00-1-418) 694-07-35. AJ card not compulsory. Everything is already full for the weekends! Night at CA $ 19 (€ 14,10), breakfast included. Add CA $ 2,50 (€ 1,90) for sheets if you don't have a sleeping bag.
B&B La Marquise de Bassano (Bed and Breakfast): 15, rue des Grisons (intramural). Phone: (00-1-418) 692-03-16. Francis and Véronyc will make your visit to Quebec unforgettable. Excellent welcome and very reasonable prices (including a breakfast to die for). A very good address.
Where to eat ?
Le Petit Coin Latin: 8, rue Sainte-Ursule. Phone. : (00-1-418) 692-20-22. At noon, menu starting at Ca $ 13 (€ 9,60). Quebec specialties, quiches, salads and giant sandwiches. For those who are very hungry, the sugar pie (with maple cream) will leave you nailed to the ground for three days ...
Where to have a drink while listening to music?
Chez Son Père: 24, rue Saint-Stanislas, 1st floor. Phone. : (00-1-418) 692-53-08. Free entry, cheap drink. Concerts every evening (pop, folk and traditional Quebec music). It was the haunt of Quebec nationalists ... Warm and friendly atmosphere.
Photo credit: © Xavier Dachez
Take a look at the carnival website: you will find the full program there.
The official tourist site of the Government of Quebec invites you to discover the region's activities, and allows you to book your hotel online.