What to Do at Québec City’s Winter Carnival


All photos by Adam Leposa

High winds last night meant that the planned fireworks display had to be postponed, but today dawned sunny and beautiful at the 58th annual Winter Carnival in Québec City. Travel Agent was on location at the Carnival grounds on the Plains of Abraham to check out what there is to see and do at this family-friendly destination.

Our first stop was Bonhomme’s Palace at the Place Loto-Québec, a giant palace made of ice that takes festival workers three weeks to build. Inside, ice sculpture demonstrations are available from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m., and at night it becomes a discotheque.

Outside the Palace, the Carnival boasts a wide variety of family-friendly activities. Just off the Place Loto-Québec is an outdoor Ferris Wheel that offers a birds’-eye view of the entire festival. Just up the hill above the Place, giant inflatable sleds offer entire families the chance to go careening down the hillside together. Down Place Desjardins, travelers can enjoy a seemingly endless array of snow sculptures crafted especially for the festival. There is also an ice slide and, for the adventurous, a chance to relax in a hot tub at the Artic Spas. The M. Christie / KRAFT Village is an area designed especially for children. Here an outdoor stage plays host to live kids’ shows from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m., including a “Star Transformation” contest hosted by Ketchup the Clown, a collective creativity session by the famille Muse en folie and games by Rose and Guy-Mauve.

To warm up, the Espace Hydro-Québec offers an outdoor and indoor heated terrace. At Le Bistro, travelers can enjoy cheese plates, panninis and local specialty Caribou- a special Québec-style mulled wine. Be careful: according to local lore, this spirit has no real effect so long as the drinker remains outdoors, but once inside the heat can have a stunning effect.

After exploring the Plains of Abraham, we headed to the Old Town, where parts of the winding streets had been roped off and packed with snow to host a snowshoe race and a dog sledding race. Dozens of contestants raced along the four mile course, which wound along the rue de St. Louis, the Grand Allée and the Plains of Abraham. Tip: for the best view, recommend your clients try the Porte St. Louis. It’s much less crowded than the start and end point at the Château Frontenac, and the site of the contestants racing through the gate in the picturesque walls of the Old City is not to be missed.

Agents interested in booking the Carnival should check out the Winter Experience Passport, which offers industry-specific discounts off the Carnival Pass, as well as a complimentary program and traditional arrowhead sash for adults. Reach out to [email protected] for details.

Tonight we’re headed off to the fireworks display, which had been postponed due to yesterday’s weather, and then on to a dance party at Bonhomme’s Palace- stay tuned to www.travelagentcentral.com for further updates.

Visit www.carnival.qc.ca/en

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