Quebec City is one of those places you need to visit more than once.
The city is transformed as the seasons change. The residents of Quebec City embrace the winter and the cold. They realize that if you’re going to live in a cold climate, you may as well enjoy it! As a result, there are many new experiences to have as the snow falls on the city. Throughout the winter months, there are a variety of activities and events that just don’t happen in the summer. Here are some suggestions to plan the perfect Quebec City winter getaway.
Hotel de Glace
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Photo Credit: Clément Belleudy
Staying at an ice hotel is one of those elusive bucket list items. Thankfully, there is an ice hotel in North America that’s fairly accessible to Canadians and Americans alike. You can find this frozen wonderland at Hotel de Glace, or Quebec’s Ice Hotel. It’s the only hotel of its kind in the continent. From year to year, the property gets a complete makeover and is constructed from scratch. For 2016, the theme is “Rivers”. Allow your visit to take you on a wondrous journey along imaginary rivers made of ice and snow. There are themed suites with fireplaces, relaxing spa experiences, and even an ice chapel for weddings. Hotel de Glace is only open from the beginning of January through the end of March, making it the perfect addition to a Quebec City winter vacation.
Quebec Winter Carnival
Bonhomme has worked behind the scenes all year long to plan a spectacular Winter Carnival event for you! It’s an annual celebration of winter, snow, and ice. In 2016, Quebec Winter Carnival occurs from January 29th to February 14th and it’s not to be missed. Ongoing activities include a sugar shack, ice slides, winter sports, hot tubs, and drinking at the ice bar. Admire the enormous ice palace in front of the Parliament building. For those daring folks, there’s a snow bath – are you adventurous enough to wear your bathing suit in the snow? Marvel at the snow sculptures, participate in the night parade, watch the challenging ice canoe race, and keep warm by attending the outdoor dance party. Be sure to give Bonhomme a hug for me!
Village Vacances Valcartier
Village Vacances Valcartier is the largest winter playground in North America. You’ll find snowy fun here for the whole family. Visitors can enjoy more than 35 snow slides, skating paths, snow rafting, a children’s playground, a high speed rafting course called “Himalaya”, and a swirling rafting course called “Tornado”. For thrilling winter outdoor excitement, Village Vacances Valcartier is an attraction that you must visit.
Pentathlon de Neiges
Photo Credit: Active Steve
The Pentathlon de Neiges is a new winter sport and everyone is welcome to participate. It’s similar to a triathlon, except there are five different disciplines: biking, running, skiing, skating, and snowshoeing. There are events for solo participants or for those working as a team. Even beginners are encouraged to join in the fun for healthy competition and exercise. There are events for schools, families and friends, and corporate challenges, in addition to the races for competing athletes. Perhaps we could see this become an Olympic event in the future! The Pentathlon runs this year from February 19 – 28, 2016.
Red Bull Crashed Ice
Red Bull Crashed Ice is an extreme winter sport where athletes plummet down icy hills and speed around sharp corners. The skating track flows through the urban centre of Old Quebec, and over 50,000 people attend the event. It’s very exciting to experience the races in person, and I encourage you to check it out. In 2015, Red Bull Crashed Ice came to Quebec at the end of November, though we can expect it to return to the city again in the years to come. Check out our full review, along with a video of Red Bull Crashed Ice.
German Christmas Market
The Quebec City Christmas Market unites a German tradition with Old Quebec. The outdoor event runs from the end of November until just before Christmas. You’ll find vendors selling unique handmade wares, yummy treats, delicious mulled wine and other beverages, and Christmas decorations all around. Learn more about this holiday tradition in our article about the Quebec City Christmas Market.
Wander Around Old Quebec
Old Quebec is equally as charming in both the winter and summer months. There’s something even more enchanting when Quartier Petit-Champlain is covered with a light dusting of snow. In December, the Christmas decorations adorn the buildings and homes all around town. Grab your camera and take a stroll around Old Quebec in the winter for a magical experience. Check out my photo essay: Christmas in Old Quebec.
Montmorency Falls is stunning during the summer months, but it’s a fascinating destination in the winter, too. The waterfall freezes over and eventually forms an impressive ice cone at its base, dubbed the Sugar Loaf. It’s a massive mountain of ice that you can only witness in the winter. The icy falls are lit up at night, making this majestic scene even more magical.
Photo Credit: Active Steve
At Dufferin Terrace near the Chateau Frontenac hotel, there’s a steep toboggan slide that’s an annual tradition. This long luge is one of the oldest attractions in the city, running since 1884. There are three runs side by side, and up to four passengers can ride a toboggan at a time. Feel the cool breeze as you fly down the icy hill, approaching speeds of 70 km/hour.
Each winter, there is an outdoor skating rink at Place D’Youville. There’s even a system in place to keep the rink frozen during some warmer periods of time. The ice rink is free for everyone to use, and there are skate sharpening and rental services on site.
Maple Syrup and Sugar Shacks
Once March rolls around, it’s maple syrup season! Indulge in this tasty Canadian treat at one of several sugar shacks in the region. You can learn about how maple sap is harvested from the trees and transformed into maple syrup. Be sure to taste maple syrup as it’s poured and rolled on top of the snow.
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