Québec City’s Winter Carnival: A Touch of Europe in North America


All photos by Adam Leposa

When we woke up this morning, the scene outside our hotel window looked perfect for the Winter Carnival: lots of snow. Unfortunately, the storm also brought with it high winds that nixed our previous plans to go cross-country skiing on the Plains of Abraham. So, we set off to explore Québec City’s Old Town, as well as two unique hotels in the region.

Old Town

A UNESCO World Heritage site, Québec City’s Old Town is like a piece of Europe dropped into the middle of North America. The area is the only walled city north of Mexico that still maintains its original fortifications. The Citadelle de Québec is a half-star-shaped fortress that boasts the only original gate left in the city’s fortifications.  While it is only possible to stroll along the tops of the walls during the summer months, during winter the shops along rue St. Jean and St. Louis offer a range of boutiques all decked out for winter- during the Carnival, many shops even have an ice sculpture standing outside.

In addition to window shopping, our tour with Les Tours de Vieux Québec took us by the Château Fronterrac, near a clifftop path and terrace overlooking the St. Lawrence River. Also nearby is the Funiculaire, which allows travelers easy access to the portion of the Old City at the bottom of the cliffs, right across from the cruise terminal. While at the bottom of the cliffs, you might want to recommend your clients seek out Le Petit Cochon Dengue- they serve a mean cup of hot chocolate, the perfect way to warm up after a snowy trek around the city.

Hôtel de Glace

Next we headed to the Hôtel de Glace, a hotel made entirely of snow and sculpted ice that this year is only a fifteen minute drive from the Old City. This year many of the elaborate carvings in the hotel’s rooms and public areas are inspired by the legends of the First Nations. Guided tours of the property are available from Les Tours de Vieux Québec. Guests staying over can take advantage of the ice bar (serving specialty cocktails in glasses made of ice- no need to wash up!) and outdoor spa to warm up before diving into their cozy sleeping bag for the night. There is even an onsite ice chapel for full wedding packages.

For more information on the Hôtel de Glace or to book, agents should reach out to Brian Pellamb at 418-623-2888 ext. 116. Travel agent discounts off the starting consumer rate of CA$200 per night are available.

First Nations Hotel and Museum

Next, we headed to the First Nations Hotel and Museum, a boutique property by the St. Charles River that is both owned by and celebrating the local Wendake tribe. The shape of the hotel recalls that of a traditional smokehouse as well as the winding St. Charles River.

Inside, guests can explore the First Nations Museum to learn about the history of the Wendake and other tribes in Québec. For lunch we sampled the onsite restaurant serves dishes influenced by traditional fare, including smoked fish, elk, seal and bison. The winding, sinuous shape of the hotel allows every room to overlook the river, so there are no bad views.

Agents interested in this property should reach out to Director of Sales Isabelle Coté at 1-866-551-9222.

Right now we’re getting ready to head out to dinner at the Café de la Terrasse in the Fairmont Le Châteaux Frontenac, and then on to our first night at the festival- stay tuned to www.travelagentcentral.com for our ongoing coverage.

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