12 enchanting experiences at the Carnaval de Québec this year

Baby, it’s cold outside! But it’s not too cold to enjoy the Quebec Winter Carnival. It’s 69e year of the Quebec Winter Carnival, and the event is one of the largest in the world. Thousands of people will turn out to watch nightly parades, snow and ice sculptures, canoe races and other iconic winter activities, food and drink. This year’s theme is Get angry the pompomsuggesting that people celebrate exuberantly.

As in previous years, the Carnival mascot is Bonhomme, a cheerful snowman. Bonhomme spreads magic wherever he goes – and it’s considered a chance to meet him! Take a look at the festival program to see where it can be found throughout the celebration.

This year’s carnival takes place from February 3 to 12, 2023. To enter the carnival, you will need to purchase and wear a Effigy of Bonhomme (this is your ticket). Most activities are included in the admission price.

Key activities and events

1. Quebec Carnival parades

If you don’t do anything else, plan to see one of these two night parades. The Charlesbourg Nocturne Parade will take place on February 3, the first day of the carnival, just after the opening ceremony. The Upper Town Night Parade will take place on Thursday, February 11. The parade routes are here.

A view of the ice sculpture

Photo credit: Audet

2. The ice sculptures

You will definitely want to visit the iconic Ice Sculpture Route. Enjoy 100 snow and ice sculptures scattered around the city. Be sure to attend one of the professional ice sculpting demonstrations at Zone Loto-Québec daily.

ice sculptures

Bonhomme’s Palace

Photo credit: Audet

3. Bonhomme Ice Castle

The Fellow The ice castle is fleeting – it melts, so every year a new one is made. Opposite the parliament building, the Ice Castle hosts a variety of activities, as well as an ice bar. Plus, the Bonhomme Ice Slide is a frigid way to enjoy this area.

Pro tip: Go at night for incredible LED lighting.

4. Great Carnival Food and Drinks

Winter certainly doesn’t limit the availability of comfort food and carnival drinks! Originally, the winter carnival consisted of eating and drinking copiously before Lent. Cheese fries is a favorite, with beaver tails, maple taffyand the signature carnival drink, Caribouserved in an ice glass in an ice bar.

canoe race

A view of the canoe race

Photo credit: Audet

5. Ice canoe races

This iconic event takes place on the first Sunday of Carnival. This year it is February 3. The crews avoid the chunks of ice while descending the St. Lawrence River.

Pro tip: The best views are at river level.

Ice Hotel

Lit fireplace at the Ice Hotel

Photo credit: Anne Richard / Shutterstock.com

6. The Ice Hotel

This fabulous Ice Hotel has 44 themed rooms and an incredible lobby, as well as a beautiful crystal clear chapel. Everything inside the hotel – even the chandeliers – is made of ice. You can buy a ticket for the visit of the Ice Hotel here.

7. Winter sleigh rides

Want that old-world feeling? Take a horse-drawn carriage through Old City. A blanket will keep you warm while enjoying the best views.

8. Saint-Hubert Snow Bath

This is where you can put on a bathing suit and dive into a snow bath, but only if you’re very brave, over 18, and maybe a little crazy. None of these things? You can visit the Saint-Hubert snow bath on Sunday, February 12, where half-naked lunatics can be seen trying to dunk themselves in freezing water. Truly? What are they thinking?

9. Tube and toboggan rides

How about a 300 foot icy descent? The subway ride on the Christie North Slope is actually quite smooth. Or visit the tube park at Valcartier Vacation Villagewhich offers everything from puppy races to daredevil getaways.

If tobogganing is more your style, you’ll appreciate the Toboggan. Located near the Château Frontenac, this century-old carousel can reach speeds of up to 43.5 mph (70 km/h). When your eyes aren’t closed, enjoy the magnificent views as you zip down. Tickets are $3 per person.

10. Ice Skating

Even if you’re not a “glitter toe”, you’ll enjoy ice skating on one of the beautiful carnival ice rinks. The skating rinks are Plains of Abraham and Place d’Youville in the Old Town.

11. Dog sledding

Feel the invigorating wind on your face as an enthusiastic team of sled dogs pulls you through the snow. Don’t like mushing? You can watch the popular dog sled race. This race attracts competitors from all over the world.

Musical show

One of five evening musical shows

Photo credit: Audet

12. Musical performances

There will be five evening musical shows and a winter fun laboratory in the Loto-Québec zone, which is the site of Palais Bonhomme. This year, the theme of the palace is “Bonhomme’s laboratory”. You will be invited to experiment with ice instruments and participate in musical workshops.

The Hilton Quebec

Exterior of the Hilton Quebec building

Photo credit: Marc Bruxelle / Shutterstock.com

Tips for a good visit

1. Where to stay

If you want to stick with the Carnival ice and snow theme, book a stay at Ice Hotel, the only ice hotel in North America. You can even choose a themed room where everything is made of ice!

The Hilton Quebec, near every carnival venue, is one of the best hotels to stay. You will enjoy a breathtaking view of Quebec City from your room. Other major hotels include The Manor of Auteuil, Nomadic Hoteland Hotel Le Clos Saint-Louis. For a real treat, stay in the historic Chateau Frontenac, with a breathtaking view of the St. Lawrence River and the old town. Check Vrbo and Airbnb for more alternatives.

2. Things to bring and wear

It is important that you wear your effigy (ticket). It must be seen by security to access Carnival events. As with most winter activities anywhere, layer up and wear comfortable, sturdy shoes. It won’t hurt to bring wet wipes or hand sanitizer. You’ll thank me for this advice after eating a sticky treat or using a potty.

3. Ways to make your visit more enjoyable

It would be difficult to see the whole carnival in one day. Your effigy/ticket is valid for all days of the carnival, so spread out the activities.

You will quickly realize that porta-potties are disgusting. Plan ahead (as much as you can) using facilities at places you eat or your nearby hotel room.

The parades attract thousands of spectators! You can find a good seat at the start of the route, but you’ll still have to leave early.

Hand and foot warmers are not just for winter football games and camping trips. Get some before visiting the carnival (and some spares)!

Some areas of the winter carnival are steep and icy. Ice cleats for your shoes can really make a difference!

4. How to get there and get around

You can fly in the Montreal-Trudeau International Airport (YUL) or the Toronto Pearson Airport (YYZ). Surprisingly, the winter carnival is very walkable. It’s a pedestrian’s paradise! If you stay in the city center you will find that it is much more convenient to walk than to drive a car and park.

Want to know more about visiting Quebec City? Take a look at these The journey awaits you articles:

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